Kirkus Reviews QR Code
CLEAN by David Sheff


Overcoming Addiction and Ending America's Greatest Tragedy

by David Sheff

Pub Date: April 2nd, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-547-84865-5
Publisher: Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

An enterprising treatise on drug abuse and addiction intervention.

During the time when Sheff chronicled his son’s “hellish” heroin and methamphetamine addiction (Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction, 2008), his desperate attempts to gain a compassionate understanding of the nature of drug dependency educated him thoroughly. This follow-up to that research defines the roots of addiction with clean, accessible language, examining the classic patterns of abuse from the first hit to full-blown dependence and from denial (“anosognosia”) to treatment and recovery. Sheff offers new, sustainable solutions to a problem that has reached epidemic levels in this country (nearly 1 in 10 Americans has a drug problem). Among the many precepts the author lists is a belief that the drugs themselves are a “symptom” and not the sole cause of an addiction. He addresses the sciences of drug dependency, risk factors, the broken addiction-treatment system in place today and a family’s crucial role in prevention. In terms of recovery, Sheff compares drug (methadone) versus drug-free (AA) routes toward achieving sobriety and eliminating relapses. Particularly fascinating is the author’s profile of a Chilean doctor’s observational research on the relentless behavioral patterns of fruit flies and mice exposed to alcohol mist, which demonstrates the seductive and ultimately irresistible nature of drugs like alcohol and cocaine. Sheff veers away from labeling addiction as a lost cause and rather offers new models, strategies and alternative therapies for abuse intervention and promising reform.

Intelligent and thought-provoking views into the complexities of addiction and recovery.