HOOKED: Five Addicts Challenge Our Misguided Rehab System
For those addicts who can't afford the Betty Ford clinic, who often find themselves on the wrong side of the law, on welfare and perhaps homeless, an unnavigable labyrinth of government agencies and treatment programs presents itself. Shavelson, a physician and photojournalist (A Chosen Death), accompanies five San Francisco addicts through weeks-long waiting periods for treatment, counseling sessions, harsh residential facilities and the "war" between zero tolerance and "harm reduction" programs. In 1997, the city's new Treatment on Demand program ("rehab for all addicts who seek it, within forty-eight hours") had hundreds of takers. Addicted to alcohol, methamphetamines and heroin, and with additional issues (often ignored by the drug treatment system) of past child abuse, current spousal abuse and mental illness, Darrel, Darlene and Mike sought treatment and agreed to be shadowed by Shavelson. Later he met Glenda, when the unconventional Death Prevention Team literally kidnapped her into treatment. At Drug Court he met Crystal, who was "tightly supervised" through a yearlong process of rehab, relapse and ultimate success. Shavelson lauds the little-used Drug Court system, an alternative to criminal court where "judges are as much responsible for 'therapeutic impact' as... for judicial authority," and offers specific steps for increasing its effectiveness. The dismal facts are all here, but through his five subjects, Shavelson puts heartbreakingly human faces on "the drug problem" in America. Deeply felt, deftly rendered, stunningly informative and often enraging, this powerful breakthrough book should be read by everyone interested in addiction treatment and public policy. B&w photos. Agent, Felicia Eth. (June 1)
Forecast:Shavelson's A Chosen Death was serialized in People magazine; this worthy book is attracting similar notice from major TV and print media. Popular coverage and an author tour will guarantee that this new work is noticed by more than a dedicated audience of homelessness, addiction and policy workers, as well as activists and reform-minded scholars.