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Book Review: Clean

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Addiction can take your life away whether it’s with an overdose, illness or constant and chronic relapsing; the disease of addiction is a progressive and sometimes fatal illness. With David and Nic Sheff, their lives have been made very public in dealing with the struggles of addiction. During the past five years, they have each written a small collection of memoirs revolving around Nic’s fight with substance abuse. Nic, who is now 31-years-old and currently sober, has written two books and his father David wrote the best seller Beautiful Boy.

David Sheff recently wrote Clean, which is not so much a memoir but a guide for those just starting to deal with addiction; an issue that David Sheff is extremely familiar with. The disease of addiction is chronic, progressive and can be treated. In the book Clean, he discusses how as with other illnesses, the methods that are most probable to work are based on science. These facts are the basis of Clean; the book that is a paradigm-shifting view of drug abuse. This book is a jump beyond the customary approaches to prevention and treatment of addiction and mental illnesses that typically go along with it; due to recent research in medicine, psychology and neuroscience.

Twelve step programs (AA,NA,CA,etc.) and rehabs, our current treatment systems, have helped several, but David Sheff gives details as to why it has been unproductive at helping many others. He has spent time learning how addiction works and what can successfully treat it by spending time with doctors, counselors, scientists, addicts and the families affected by addiction. Clean suggests a strong and persuasive message for parents and others who want to avoid drug problems and for addicts and their loved ones no matter what phase of the disease they are in. This book is an influential reconsidering of the highest public health issue of our time and can help anyone.

Readers who are looking for a clear-cut reference on the best available treatment may be let down by this book. But in spite of his ringing calls for scientifically confirmed substitutes, he is often caught short when it comes to particulars. He states that the treatment for addiction is not like treating other illnesses. Given the state of the science, “sometimes there’s no clear course forward even for those being advised by highly skilled doctors.”

When it comes to addiction, I have seen and been through a lot of different situations with a parent who was an addict, siblings and other family members who suffer from this disease and the only solution I have found to work is working a program of recovery in the rooms of a 12-step fellowship following treatment in a rehab facility. I’m not saying that works for everyone, but for all the addicts and alcoholics I have encountered this has been the only thing to work for them. I personally, tried everything else and nothing else worked. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free 1-800-951-6135.


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