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, a myth-shattering look at drug abuse by the author ofBeautiful Boy. Based on the latest research in psychology, neuroscience, and medicine, Clean is a leap beyond the traditional approaches to prevention and treatment of addiction and the mental illnesses that usually accompany it. The existing treatment system, including Twelve Step programs and rehabs, has helped some, but it has failed to help many more, and David Sheff explains why. He spent time with scores of scientists, doctors, counselors, and addicts and their families to learn how addiction works and what can effectively treat it. Clean offers clear, cogent counsel for parents and others who want to prevent drug problems and for addicts and their loved ones no matter what stage of the illness they’re in. But it is also a book for all of us — a powerful rethinking of the greatest public health challenge of our time.
The statistics are sobering: drugs kill more than 300 people in the U.S. every day. Almost 10 percent of Americans older than 12 are addicted to drugs. About 90 percent of those who require treatment for addiction never get it. Sheff evaluates our nation’s approach to the problem of drug abuse and finds it sorely lacking. Drug addiction is a chronic illness—like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease—but doesn’t get treated as one. It doesn’t afflict only bad people or just those who lack willpower. It is treatable and preventable. Once we acknowledge that drug addiction is indeed a disease, our public policy, research, and treatment will profoundly change. Sheff chronicled his oldest son’s drug addiction in the memoir Beautiful Boy (2007). Here he lashes out at “the pseudoscience, moralizing, and scare tactics that characterize the current system.” He shares addicts’ stories and information from researchers and experts and reports on his visits to treatment programs. Sadly, no surefire treatment presently exists for all types of addiction. In Clean, Sheff advocates not for punishing drug addicts but for treating them. ~ Booklist
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