Award-Winning Neuroscience Author, Journalist & Mental Health Advocate
Maia Szalavitz is an award-winning author and journalist who covers addiction and neuroscience. Her latest book, the New York Times bestseller, Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction uses her own story of recovery from heroin and cocaine addiction to explore how reframing addiction as a learning disorder can transform prevention, treatment and policy. It was published by St. Martin’s Books in April 2016, with paperback forthcoming in 2017. Read More >
America's Anti-Drug Laws Aren't Scientific
Why Addiction is A Learning Disorder & Why It Matters
In this dynamic presentation, Szalavitz explores why understanding addiction as a learning disorder can advance drug policy and end stale arguments about whether compulsive drug use is a crime or a disease. By seeing addiction from a new perspective, we can increase compassion and reduce drug and drug policy related harm. Read More >
Can also include personal story of addiction and recovery if desired. Read Less ^
This presentation explores common myths about addiction and shows why better understanding the condition can radically improve prevention, treatment and policy. Myths vary from misperceptions about the nature of addiction itself to the idea that there is only one way to recover and the notion that people must not be “enabled,” and need to “hit bottom” and experience “tough love” before they can improve. Can also include my personal experience with addiction and how these myths interfered with my own recovery.
Through a warm, moving, emotional narrative, Szalavitz shows how being taught to clean her needles with bleach not only protected her from HIV, but helped her move towards recovery because of her outrage at the failure of society to care for people with addiction. This presentation explains why harm reduction— far from “enabling” or extending addiction— is actually the best way to spur health and recovery.
"Thank you so much for the work and energy you put into your presentation for our staff at DESC. It was so great and one of our staff’s favorite in-service trainings of all time!"
"Maia Szalavitz is a standout among speakers on addiction because she uses her moving personal story of recovery from IV drug use as a case study to explain the science of addiction. An addiction survivor and a neuroscience journalist, no one is better positioned than Maia to speak to us knowledgeably and insightfully about the current state of addictions and addictions policy. She speaks in a disarmingly direct way about the most difficult, controversial subjects. In our community, she addressed six different groups in two days and audience members universally reported feeling touched, uplifted, and inspired to take action. I tweeted her, "What fights addiction?" and she replied: "Love, evidence & respect." Maia, herself, embodies all three."