April 9th, 2009

Chris Keeley

Doctor and Drug Abuser in Yearlong Tête-à-Tête

Doctor and Drug Abuser in Yearlong Tête-à-Tête

THE ADDICT

One Patient, One Doctor, One Year

By Michael Stein

275 pages. William Morrow. $25.99.

“Once my name was on her bottle, we were linked,” Dr. Michael Stein writes, delivering one of the stranger quasi-romantic pronouncements you may ever find on the printed page.

The woman in question is 29-year-old Lucy: fetching (“When she smiled, the corners of her eyes crinkled”), scared, defiant, vulnerable and uncontrollably addicted to Vicodin, America’s most widely prescribed painkiller. Dr. Stein, who has spun his intimacy with Lucy into “The Addict,” a protracted two-person drama set in a small, claustrophobic medical office, is prone to obsessive behavior of his own. When confronted with a visitor like Lucy, Dr. Stein cannot seem to resist playing power games with his patient while trying to cure her.

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