* Clean by David Sheff

Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy is written by the author of Beautiful Boy, in which he described his son’s struggles with alcohol and drugs. I found the memoir interesting, but this new book was puzzling. First, the intended audience and message are not clear: is it an opinion piece on how to treat addiction or a practical handbook for parents and families of addicts seeking treatment? The book seems to waver from one to the other, losing the reader’s interest. Second, the book makes repeated statements without justification, such as the weird noises heard by gas-hufffing addicts are the sounds of brain cells popping. Really, now? We don’t expect the author to be a scientist but it would be good to consult one before making baseless statements. Third, and perhaps most important, the main thesis of the book is that addiction is a disease and should be treated as such, rather than as a failure of self-control. Fair enough, but I found myself (maliciously?) looking for counter arguments on every page. If it is nothing more than a disease, then why do behavior-modification programs work, at least for some people? And for that matter why recommend long rehab cycles?

A bust, at least for me.

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Filed under Non fiction

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