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Heal Thyself

A Doctor at the Peak of His Medical Career, Destroyed by Alcohol--and the Personal Miracle That Brought Him Back

Olivier Ameisen, M.D.

Sarah Crichton Books

Alcoholism claims three hundred lies per day in the United States. Until six years ago, it looked like it would claim the life of Dr. Olivier Ameisen, a gifted cardiologist with an undeniable addiction. Forced to give up his practice, he tried every available treatment, from long-term stays in rehabilitation clinics to naltrexone. Nothing worked.

Searching for a cure, he happened upon baclofen, a muscle relaxant that had been used safely for years as a treatment for muscle spasticity. Ameisen prescribed himself the drug and experimented with dosages until he finally reached a level high enough to free him of any craving for alcohol. That was more than six years ago.

Heal Thyself is both a memoir of Ameisen’s struggle and a call to action. In the past years, a growing number of researchers and doctors have been inspired by Ameisen and begun prescribing baclofen and lobbying for wide-scale studies into how the drug works. Last spring, the leading medical journal Alcohol and Alcoholism endorsed the book. Hailing Dr. Ameisen as “a remarkable medical researcher,” it summed up its assessment strongly and directly: “This book is to be recommended. It provides ample literature [for physicians and] . . . is a useful educational resource for those who work in the addiction field.”

This updated version includes a new preface by the author, twenty discussion quesions for new readers and health professionals, and extensive case studies regarding successful baclofen treatments.

BOOK EXCERPTS

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1. Moment of Truth

I CAME TO MY SENSES and took stock of where I was: in a cab, with blood streaming down my face and spattering my trench coat. I looked out the window and in the glow of the streetlights saw the cab was on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan, waiting for the light to change at 76th Street. The church on the corner reminded me it was Sunday, and I looked at my watch. It was almost midnight. The few people on the street were buttoned up against the late winter chill, but it was warm in the cab.

My apartment was not too far away, on East 63rd Street between York and First

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REVIEWS

Praise for Heal Thyself

“You have discovered the treatment for addiction.” Jean Dausset, M.D., winner of the 1980 Nobel Prize in Medicine
 

“This is not your usual memoir of addiction, degradation, and redemption.”— The Boston Globe

 

 

“Brave, insightful and sure to be significant.” —Publishers Weekly

 
“In this remarkably candid memoir of crippling alcoholism, cardiologist Ameisen’s passion for curing addiction is palpable, at times gritty, and, in the end, hopeful.”—Booklist
 
“WOW! . . . This is a wonderful book . . . Ameisen may be responsible for making a signal discovery much like, but better than, that of George Cotzias, [the first to show that L-dopa could alleviate Parkinson’s disease,] in that so many more patients may be involved.” —Jerome B. Posner, M.D., George C. Cotzias Chair of Neuro-oncology, Department of Neurology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
 
“This book is . . . the story of the dazzling discovery of a cure that could soon be within reach of all. If you or someone close to you suffers from alcoholism or drug dependence, you must read this book.” —David Servan-Schreiber, M.D., Ph.D., author of The Instinct to Heal and Anticancer

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Olivier Ameisen, M.D.

  • Olivier Ameisen, MD, inaugurated the position of official physician to the prime minister of France. He came to the United States in 1983 to join the prestigious cardiology team at New York Hospital and Cornell University Medical Center, where he became an associate professor of clinical medicine and an associate attending physician. He is currently Visiting Professor of Medicine at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center.
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Heal Thyself

A Doctor at the Peak of His Medical Career, Destroyed by Alcohol--and the Personal Miracle That Brought Him Back

Olivier Ameisen, M.D.

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