Dr. Olivier Ameisen, a French cardiologist, made international headlines with his claim that a muscle relaxant cured his alcoholism. In his new memoir, "The End of My Addiction," Ameisen offers insight into his personal story and puts out a call to action to research the drug he believes ended his alcohol dependency.
Read an excerpt of his book below.
By completely suppressing my addiction, baclofen saved my life. I believe it can save and improve the lives of many others by completely suppressing their addictions, and I have written this book to that end. It is in effect an extended self-case report on the etiology and course of my illness, including the severe anxiety that troubled me from early childhood, my descent into alcoholism in New York City and Paris, the fortunate circumstances that made me aware of baclofen before alcoholism irreversibly damaged my health or killed me, my decision to test baclofen on myself and then to break my anonymity as a physician with addiction and publish the results, and my efforts, in both concert and conflict with some of the world's leading addiction researchers, to further understanding of this valuable medicine and make it available to others.
In what follows I draw on my personal experiences with the aim of illuminating common themes in both the experience and treatment of addiction. For reasons of privacy I have changed some names and identifying details.
This book is not a self-help manual, and it is in no way meant to be a guide to self-treatment. Addiction is a serious illness, and anyone suffering from it should seek qualified medical advice and care. Likewise, baclofen, a prescription drug, should be taken only as prescribed and closely supervised by a licensed physician.
My apartment was not too far away, on East 63rd Street between York and First Avenues, but I needed medical attention. I asked the driver to take me to the emergency room at New York Hospital, at 68th Street and York Avenue. He seemed oblivious to my condition, and I wondered what had happened. Had the cab braked suddenly so that I hit my head, or had I been injured in some other way before I hailed it? I knew I'd been drinking, but not where or how much.
As the cab pulled up in front of the hospital emergency room entrance, a memory of the evening began to come together. Around 8:30 p.m. I had visited my friend Jeff Steiner, the CEO of Fairchild Corporation, to ask his advice on running my cardiology practice, which I'd started two and a half years before. I'd been introduced to Jeff in the late 1980s by a mutual friend, another physician.