A myth-shattering look at drug abuse and addiction treatment, based on cutting-edge research
Addiction is a preventable, treatable disease, not a moral failing. As with other illnesses, the approaches most likely to work are based on science — not on faith, tradition, contrition, or wishful thinking. These facts are the foundation of Clean. The existing addiction treatments, including Twelve Step programs and rehabs, have helped some, but they have failed to help many more. To discover why, David Sheff spent time with scores of scientists, doctors, counselors, and addicts and their families, and explored the latest research in psychology, neuroscience, and medicine. In Clean, he reveals how addiction really works, and how we can combat it.
“A guide for those affected by addiction, but also a manifesto . . . for America as it confronts its drug problem. [Sheff] has performed a vital service by compiling sensible advice on a subject for which sensible advice is in short supply.” — New York Times Book Review
“As a journalist, father, and clear-eyed chronicler of addiction, David Sheff is without peer.” — Sanjay Gupta, M.D., chief medical correspondent, CNN
Reviewed by Hunter R. Slaton. Sheff's bestselling Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction flipped the script on the traditional first-person addiction memoir, painting an agonizing portrait of what one family went through when its "beautiful boy," Nic Sheff, descended into years of methamphetamine addiction, deceit, and relapse. By the final page, he had been clean for a full year. But while the story may have ended for Sheff's family, the tragedy continues for the 20 million Americans who are currently addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. Thus, Sheff the elder is back; in his latest, he takes a macro look at the micro problem detailed in Beautiful Boy, to examine the state of addiction and addiction treatment sadly lacking, he finds in the U.S. today.As Sheff sees it, the chief impediments to preventing and treating addiction are the same ones that existed when Alcoholics Anonymous was founded 78 years ago: the stigma associated with addiction, and the belief that drug abuse is a choice, rather than a disease. Sheff once held this belief, but his thinking evolved over years of grappling with his son's addiction. Clean is at its best when the author grounds his conclusions in real-life trials and tribulations, whether his or others'.Unfortunately, the book is at times too thinly peopled, descending into rote lists of best practices and expert opinions, as exemplified by the chapter "Beginning Treatment": "All support staff working with patients should be well trained and closely supervised"; "Programs should evaluate whether it would be beneficial for family members to be involved in treatment"; and so on. These passages are a perfect illustration of why a writer should always "show" rather than "tell."But when Sheff lets recovering addicts and their families make his case for him, the story is gripping and vibrant Luke Gsell tells about finding himself in rehab on the night before his 15th birthday, gobbling down stolen Dramamine: " Everything snapped,' Luke said. I thought, This is my one shot and I'm getting high. I was tripping on seasickness pills in rehab... I recognized that I was an addict. I said, I'm done with this.' " The book is not this vivid or cathartic throughout, but Sheff makes his case methodically and convincingly, finishing with a stark look at the failure of the War on Drugs and a comparison to the far more effective wars on cancer and AIDS, fought with the weaponry of "education and prevention, changing public policy, and improving treatment," rather than "interdiction, arrest, prosecution, and eradication." "The war must be ended," Sheff concludes and a new, more benevolent approach, outlined in a set of cleverly rewritten "12 Steps," begun. Hunter R. Slaton is an editor at the TheFix.com, an online magazine about addiction and recovery. He lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.
I could not put this book down the first time I started to read it. Sheff really goes in depth with this book giving you statistics on addiction and really explains what causes addiction. Both in society and genetically. This is a great read if your interested in addiction. I would recommend this book to anyone!
A must read!!
After reading Beautiful Boy, I was hooked on David Sheff! A wonderful writer with experience in the areas in which he writes about. He has a way with words and provokes thought. This book is amazingly well written and a fascinating look at how addiction works, why its hold is so tight and how we may be able to prevent it. If you're an addict or your loved one has been lost in the dark shadows of drug abuse, this will open your eyes. Even if you do not have addiction in your life, this is a great look into scientific, psychological and biological aspects of the human mind.
Thank you for writing this book. I read Beautiful Boy in the midst of my own addiction and this one at the beginning of my recovery. Thank you David Sheff.