HarperCollins Speakers Bureau

Lance Dodes, M.D.

Internationally Recognized Addiction Expert


  • Breaking Addiction: The 7-Step Tools for Ending Any Addiction
  • The Heart of Addiction: Understanding the Psychology Behind Addiction
  • Psychological Treatment of Addiction
  • The Respective Roles of Psychology and Brain Chemistry in Addiction
  • Myths of Addiction
  • Compulsive Gambling
  • Sexual Addiction



Lance Dodes, M.D. is a Training and Supervising Analyst with the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute and assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He is the author or co-author of many journal articles and book chapters about addiction, as well as the groundbreaking book, The Heart of Addiction and his latest book Breaking Addiction: A 7-Step Handbook for Ending Any Addiction (both published by HarperCollins). A sought-after speaker, he has been invited to speak about the treatment of addiction at symposia across the country.

In his Heart of Addiction talks, Dodes offers a new way to think about and control addictive behavior. Rejecting pat explanations of alcoholism as a disease, he instead explores the underlying emotions that drive addictive behaviors. In his practice and research, Dodes has found that virtually every addictive act is preceded by a feeling of helplessness or powerlessness. The addictive behavior - be it drinking, gambling, or compulsive sex - serves to repair this feeling. The paradox is that the out of control behavior actually gives the addict a sense of being empowered or in control. But the addiction is a substitute for some other, more useful response. With compassion and deep understanding, he provides audiences with the keys to mastering their addiction by helping them uncover why they feel the impulse, why they feel it when they do, and what they can do to address their emotional needs in another, healthier way.

In his Breaking Addiction talks, Dodes presents a comprehensive guide outlining seven critical steps to overcome addiction, based on the theories outlined in The Heart of Addiction. In his straightforward style, Dodes incorporates case stories to illustrate the common emotional factors underlying all addictions, and the process of self-examination that allows addicts to recognize these factors at work in themselves. When they learn how addiction works, and the emotional purpose the addiction serves, Dodes shows them that they can take back control of their lives.

An enormous group of people are hungry for an approach that digs addiction up by its roots. Since the publication of The Heart of Addiction, Dodes' ideas have been incorporated into the practice of therapists and treatment centers around the country, and are taught at major addiction treatment centers, training centers for clinicians, and universities. Dodes also offers tools for loved ones who suffer with addiction, and for treatment professionals, to provide a new comprehensive, in-depth understanding of addiction.

Dodes has been the Director of the substance abuse treatment unit of Harvard's McLean Hospital, Director of the Alcoholism Treatment Unit at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital (now part of Massachusetts General Hospital) and Director of the Boston Center for Problem Gambling. He is Chair of the annual discussion group The Patient with Addiction in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis at the winter meeting of the American Psychoanalytic Association. Dodes has also been honored by the Division on Addictions at Harvard Medical School for "Distinguished Contribution" to the study and treatment of addictive behavior, and has been elected a "Distinguished Fellow" of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry. He is or has been a reviewer or editor for many professional journals including the American Journal of Addiction, the Journal of Gambling Studies, and the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse.

Dodes lives in Massachusetts.

Praise for The Heart of Addiction:

"In this courageous and pioneering text, Dr. Dodes has produced a depth analysis and new way of understanding addictions for patients and clinicians alike. Dr. Dodes legitimately argues that in the majority of cases of addiction, traditional treatments fail because clinicians and patients fail to understand its causes. The subject matter in this book might be hard to sustain, especially if it involves you. Dodes, however, makes it easier because he really understands addictive drives and lucidly and empathetically conveys this understanding to his readers. Mostly, he does this through the patients' powerful accounts and his analysis of their experience in trying to control and losing control of their addictive behaviors. The narratives that Dr. Dodes offers are very readable and compelling. It will significantly serve the reader in what they need to know in understanding and relinquishing their addictions, whatever form it takes."
-- Edward J. Khantzian, M.D. Clinical Professor of Psychiatry Harvard Medical School

"The Heart of Addiction is a masterful analysis of addiction that is destined to become a classic guide to understanding repetitive, excessive and self-destructive behavior patterns. The illustrative cases are riveting, entertaining and illuminating. Dr. Dodes has crafted a very meaningful map to understanding and resolving addictive behavior. The Heart of Addiction avoids blaming addiction on addictive drugs and focuses instead on the impulses and inner conflicts that energize vulnerability to addiction. This book marks a revolution in self-help. In fact, this book belongs on the shelf of every treatment professional facing patients with addictive behaviors. By providing a deeper insight into the dynamics of addiction, patients and providers alike will be armed with an understanding of addiction that will transform them."
-- Howard J. Shaffer, Ph.D.; C.A.S. Director, Division on Addictions Harvard Medical School

"This book is a revolutionary advance in understanding how addictions work, and how people can master their own addictive behaviors. In a highly readable way, with compelling real-life examples, Dr. Dodes guides the reader toward a new way to understand and control the very behaviors which can seem uncontrollable. Besides containing many new ideas which stand old notions about addiction on their head, The Heart of Addiction distinguishes itself from other self-help books by not trying to supply pat, superficial answers. Dr. Dodes is an empathic clinician who respects the intelligence and ability of his patients to be thoughtful about themselves, and he brings this attitude to his writing. It is easy to be caught up in the often moving stories as Dodes recounts his patients' journeys to toward understanding and mastering their addictive behaviors. I have no doubt readers will be able to apply these unique ideas to their own lives."
-- Edward Hallowell, M.D. author of Driven to Distraction, Worry, and Connect

"In a field rife with misinformation, obfuscation, intimidation, and exploitation, this book represents a bright beacon of light that can pierce the fog and help save lives . . . The book is written in a very personal and personable, conversational style that makes it as convincing as it is easy to read . . . chapters are informative, heuristically stimulating, and quite practical . . . I recommend it wholeheartedly."
-- The Psychoanalytic Quarterly

"Dodes shares his refreshingly new insights into treating addictive behaviors. Rebuffing shallow explanations of these problems (such as categorizing addictions as diseases), Dodes instead explains the emotional underpinnings of addictive behaviors . . . Filled with realistic case examples, this new approach challenges the prevalent thinking in professional practice while explaining why people feel an impulse to engage in unproductive addictive behavior and what they can do about it."
-- Library Journal

"Dodes is a psychoanalyst with considerable therapeutic experience with alcoholism, gambling, and other addictions, and he offers a compelling new approach to them . . . Relief comes not from the drink or the bet but from the decision to drink or bet. Dodes cites many case histories illustrating this displacement and how a patient's realization of it can lead to control and power. "No addiction is fundamentally motivated by a search for pleasure," Dodes says, and furthermore, addiction isn't a disease. Exploding many other misconceptions about addiction, Dodes stresses that each addict must be treated separately and that the causes of helplessness vary greatly."
-- Booklist

"Dodes makes a cogent case for a new way of looking at addictions. Rejecting many commonly held and rarely questioned beliefs . . . he clearly and convincingly explains the errors and limitations of these beliefs. In a highly readable style, using many pertinent examples from his practice, he shows that the underlying psychological issue of addiction is always an overwhelming feeling of helplessness or powerlessness. . . Dodes offers an original voice to the recovery field and a fresh look at a formidable problem for individuals, families and society."
-- Publishers Weekly

"The Heart of Addiction is one of the five most meaningful and helpful books that I have read in the field of psychotherapy and the most helpful in terms of working with people who have addictions. Dodes ... writes with an uncommon profundity without using professional jargon and intellectual arrogance. ... While most of the treatment programs take an anti-symptom approach of using various tactics and techniques to stop the addiction, Dodes ... seeks to help the addicted person to discover the underlying meaningful order in the clinical disorder of one's addiction. This is inherently a prophetic book that challenges much of the establishment thinking."
-- Journal of Pastoral Care