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Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America's Greatest Tragedy

3.89  ·  Rating Details  ·  669 Ratings  ·  106 Reviews
Addiction is a disease; it is preventable and treatable.

It is 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. Those facts are the foundation of "Clean," a new paradigm for preventing drug abuse and treating addiction and the mental illnesses that usually accom
ebook, 304 pages
Published April 2nd 2013 by Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2013)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,986)
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Erin Cataldi
Jun 25, 2013 Erin Cataldi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
This was definitely one of the hardest books I've read this year, not because it was badly written but because the subject matter was very personal and not at all comforting like I hoped it would be. I'm not going to go into details in this book review but those of you who know me, know why I find this subject hard. It's something that I never would have guessed would affect me or anyone I care about, but who am I kidding, this is the 21st century. Addiction is more prevalent then ever.

Prior to
Oct 16, 2013 Bev rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just started this book and find it very encouraging. There was a comment though that Mr. Sheff made early on that has bothered me. He said that he became addicted to his son's addiction. Having experienced addiction in our family I know what Mr. Sheff meant or at least I think I do. Words are tricky. Addiction is a disease. Mr. Sheff knows this, the medical community knows this, most people know this and yet the word 'addiction' or 'addicted' is many times used incorrectly. It's my humble opinio ...more
Lorianne DiSabato
I’ve recently finished David Sheff’s Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America's Greatest Tragedy, which I found a bit disappointing. My expectations were probably too high, as Sheff’s Beautiful Boy—a memoir of his son’s meth addiction—was both heartbreaking and hauntingly human. It’s clear that Sheff’s experience as the father of a recovering addict has shaped his thinking, making him sound urgent and at times almost quaintly old-fashioned: Ward Cleaver after watching Reefer Madness. Where ...more
Andrew Shaffer
Apr 19, 2013 Andrew Shaffer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clean starts off with a well-meaning premise that grabbed my attention: “Addiction is a preventable, treatable disease, not a moral failing. As with other illnesses, the approaches most likely to work are based on science.” Sheff (Beautiful Boy) provides ample evidence and expert opinions in his quest to prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that addiction is an illness and not a moral failing on the part of users. When he sticks to science and statistics, Clean delivers; when Sheff digresses into ...more
Apr 27, 2013 Audrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was good. He has a couple very strong messages - one being that addiction (like alcoholism)is a disease, not an indication of weak moral structure, and not simply poor judgement. This is not a new message for me, but it is for many people. What was a new idea for me is that we need to TREAT addiction the way we treat other diseases. It seems obvious, but yet it doesn't happen. And he made me look at why. Lots of reasons, addiction carries great stigma and people don't talk about it. It's di ...more
Kristen Hernandez
It was so refreshing to read a very well-written book that actually agrees with my specific thoughts on substance abuse. I have been constantly told that people who do substance abuse are just selfish and could stop if they really wanted to or that we should just legalize every drug that there is. People do not seem to understand that this is not just an individual's problem, this is a societal issue! With more authors, like David Sheff, we could slowly change the worst domestic issue that we ha ...more
Todd N
Jul 14, 2013 Todd N rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people with longer attention spans than I have
Shelves: on-hold, kindle
I had high hopes for this book after hearing the interview with the author on Fresh Air, but ultimately I couldn't finish it. It's just too meandering and filled with too many personal stories and the bits that dig into the science of addiction and recovery feel secondary to the personal stuff. Too bad.

I have more than a passing interest in this topic, but I didn't feel this book was worth the slog after 70 pages or so. There are some interesting bits though, like only one out of ten addicts sta
Jess Dollar
May 16, 2013 Jess Dollar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm really glad I read this. I heard the author on Fresh Air, so when I saw the book at the library I figured I would give it a try. I have a lot of experiences dealing with addicted people, and this book helped me understand addiction and addicted people in a more comprehensive, objective way.

I also think this a great book for parents to read as it talks about how especially damaging drug use and abuse can be on young people and how to help your kids navigate their teen years without alcohol,
May 08, 2013 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting book by someone who knows of what he speaks. David Sheff watched his son Nic spiral into a horrifying drug addiction. He spent years worrying, enabling and desperately trying to help his son. Nic, at the time of this writing had been five years clean, and still is as far as I know. But, the point of this book is to inform people of the risk factors related to addiction, preventative programs that are being implemented, different types of treatments for addiction, and to explain ...more
David Cooke
As the parent of a child battling addiction, I am drawn to books that share common or similar experiences. David Sheff wrote a very powerful story, "My Beautiful Boy" which chronicles his experiences with a son's addiction. This book is designed to shed light on the issue of drug abuse in this country. Sheff clearly shares the pain and frustration that most parents experience regarding the stigma of abuse. Most people, until it hits home, sees addiction as a choice people make and have little em ...more
Patricia Baker
This was a hard book to read as it contained a lot of information about addiction. I had read his other book about his son's addiction and thought it had some merit to discussion addiction and treatment.
I have to agree with Mr. Sheff that addiction is a medical problem, that it needs to be addressed as soon as it is suspected as a problem. I agree with him in that addicts should not be labeled bad people, they are just ill people. I'm not sure that AA or NA is the way to go because of the loss o
Shelley Fearn
May 06, 2013 Shelley Fearn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I doubt anyone would deny that this is an important book for the lay person. Sheff clearly expresses his premise that addiction is a disease and not a moral failing. What he subsequently writes elevates this book from the usual nonfiction book on addiction written for the lay reader.

Sheff, in a very orderly and forthright manner, describes the science behind the change from treating addiction as a fault to treating it as a disease. He covers the possible causes of addiction, its trajectory, and
Kalem Wright
"Clean" is David Sheff's prescription for ending the addiction crisis in America. He explores the state of the research through interviews with recovering and active addicts, family members, researchers and service providers and explores failings in the system in educating consumers and providers, access to quality and evidence-based care, philosophically harmful and moralistic treatment models and implementing best practices.

He illustrates the impact of drugs on the developing and developed bra
Nov 03, 2013 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-work
Read this book! Clean is a wonderful introduction to the world of addiction and recovery. Sheff wrote an earlier book, Beautiful Boy that chronicled the son's struggles with addiction. In clean, Sheff demonstrates that addiction is a disease and not a moral failing. Sheff also discusses what some of the current treatments are for addiction. He also discusses various myths and preconceptions some people have about drug abuse. He pays special attention to the the misperceptions people have about m ...more
JoAnn   W.
May 13, 2013 JoAnn W. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wish everyone would read this book. Unfortunately, Goodreads has it listed by the wrong title. "The Thirteenth Step" is not its name. "Clean" is its name.

One out of twelve Americans has a problem with drug/alcohol addiction. This is one out of twelve Americans OVER TWELVE! Yes, that's right. Mr. Sheff reports that 90% of all who battle substance addiction began using BEFORE AGE 18 and 95% began using before age 21. These addiction statistics cover all regions of the country and all social and
Angela Fitzsimmons
The idea that addiction is a disease is not new but it's a hard one to internalize and embrace. Sheff is working hard to cast addiction as a public health crisis in our country, which I believe it is, but titling his book "Clean" does something to undermine this. If an addict isn't "clean" then s/he must be "dirty." That implication still feels stigmatizing to me.

Sheff's personal experience with addiction has evolved from a narrative retelling of his own family's story (in Beautiful Boy) to a jo
May 20, 2016 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was just so helpful. I am the parent of an addict and have been learning a lot about this topic over the last several months. This book is filled with evidence based research and makes some excellent recommendations. And it isn't necessarily the same advice you get anywhere. Most people say you have to let the addict hit rock bottom, but he drives home the point that, particularly with hard drugs, "rock bottom" can very likely be death. Do you really want to wait for that when it is yo ...more
A Book & A Toke
Great read, but I have one issue.

I'm an addict, 5 years clean this month. I read this book because I want to be a voice for other addicts. I live in Southwest Florida, and they don't take kindly to us down here. Things need to change, and I'm ready to make that happen.

This book is exactly what I needed to read when I started doing drugs at 13. It's a shame everyone doesn't view addicts like this David. He offers some excellent insight into our disease, and I learned a lot. However, I disagree wi
Jose Hernandez
Jul 26, 2014 Jose Hernandez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The most important fact of the paradigm explained in this book is that addiction is a disease with a neurological basis – a mental illness. This is a fact that is often overlooked. Unfortunately, most think addiction is caused by people being morally defunct or having some weakness of willpower. This is not the case. Addicts aren't weak, selfish, or amoral – They're ill.

Divided into seven parts, this book covers the reasons people become addicted, how addiction escalates, advice on getting and s
Jul 20, 2014 Janet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read Sheff's NYTimes article, My Addicted Son, a few months ago. It was such a well-written, moving story, I was compelled to read Clean.

"Most drug use isn't about drugs; it's about life. Addiction is a disease, a disease which is preventable and treatable... Addiction is America's number one preventable health problem... Everyone has a stake in ending addiction: everyone who cares about safer streets, government spending, quality healthcare, poverty, c
Chris Ross
I listened to the audio book and I also listened to Beautiful Boy in the audio book format which is why I picked up this one. The book is well researched, well written, and well read. I like and agree with most of what David Sheff says up to the point where he argues for legalization of marijuana. With marijuana legal now in 2 states they should provide a real-life and real-time experiment for David Sheff to monitor. What I find surprising by David's advocacy for pot legalization is that it has ...more
Dolly King
Mar 28, 2015 Dolly King rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I truly think everyone needs to read this book. David Sheff has compiled a book full of his research and stories and examples and knowledge that he has acquired through his many many years of walking with his son through his drug addiction. I believe that everyone is affected by this disease and huge problem that we have in the world today. It touches everybody and the only way to help stop it is by becoming educated on what addiction is and how we can help stop it. Just like other diseases that ...more
May 12, 2013 Brent rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The war on drugs has failed. The costs of rehabilitation, medical complications, and a lost generation should cause us all to ponder a better way. This book is an attempt to review the research on prevention and treatment of addictions in an objective manner. The science behind our biases are exposed and it is an urgent read for teen, parents, teachers, government, and other stakeholders in the battle.
Aug 27, 2016 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
I struggled to decide how to rate this book, because it is quite good, just not what I was looking for. David Sheff writes a clear and impassioned call to action to improve our tangled and ineffective drug rehabilitation system, starting with thinking of addiction with a disease model. He writes from his own heartbreaking experience of almost loosing his own son to addiction, and struggles with finding quality care for him within a system which primarily blames users for their weakness rather th ...more
Apr 22, 2013 Brie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most important books on addiction I've read and I've read plenty of them. This book offers hope as well as hard facts, and it's a great guide for people who are trying to find the right care, whether the reader is an addict herself or an addict's loved one. Highly recommended.
Kathleen Hagen
Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy, by David Sheff, Narrated by Jeff Cummings, Produced by Brilliance audio, Downloaded from

After David Sheff, a journalist, wrote the story of his son’s addiction to meth, and his overcoming that addiction, Sheff was struck by how little was known about methamphetamine addiction, how powerful a hold it has on its victims, and the lack of good therapy to help overcome the addiction. He has spent the years since writing “
May 11, 2015 Gabriel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After writing the haunting book about his son's struggle with addiction "Beautiful Boy", which is a must read. David Sheff follows up with another book about addiction, but on the science of getting clean.

Laced with interviews with addicts and heart broken parents, he paints a harrowing view of how hard it is to stay clean and the troubling stats of how many people relapse. What's scariest is how little we really know about how to treat addiction, with many programs being nothing more than toug
Retha Van zweel
May 02, 2013 Retha Van zweel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very insightful and relevant, and very very sad & scary for every parent with pre-teens & teens.BUT Not just applicable to drugs, but to everyone who is living/had lived with any form of addiction. Highly recommended.
This didn't really have any new information that I hadn't heard before, but it was the best summary I have read of everything all in one place.
Jackie Lane
My reason for rating it 3 stars is because, and this is my fault, the book was too clinical for me. There were too many facts and not enough stories. I feel like I did not read the synopsis well enough before starting it.

Therefore, it should probably be rated higher, but I love A Beautiful Boy and it made it harder for me to read this book.

That being said, the book was well written and researched and presented the problems of drugs and alcohol backed up by facts and numbers. This is a very sad p
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Has David become co dependent again? 1 6 Jul 18, 2013 08:03AM  
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David Sheff is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling memoir Beautiful Boy. Sheff's other books include Game Over, China Dawn, and All We Are Saying. His many articles and interviews have appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Playboy, Wired, Fortune, and elsewhere. His ongoing research and reporting on the science of addiction earned him a place on Time Magazine's list of the Wor ...more
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“teenagers are almost a different species than the rest of us, particularly in social situations.” 0 likes
“Once and for all, people must understand that addiction is a disease. It’s critical if we’re going to effectively prevent and treat addiction. Accepting that addiction is an illness will transform our approach to public policy, research, insurance, and criminality; it will change how we feel about addicts, and how they feel about themselves. There’s another essential reason why we must understand that addiction is an illness and not just bad behavior: We punish bad behavior. We treat illness.” 0 likes
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