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Books, Journals, New Media
November 28, 2001

Addiction: Hooked: Five Addicts Challenge Our Misguided Drug Rehab System

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorDavid H.MorseMS, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


Not Available

JAMA. 2001;286(20):2603-2604. doi:10.1001/jama.286.20.2603-JBK1128-2-1

Is treatment of severe drug addiction effective in reducing drug use and repairing the psychological and social damage done by addiction? This is the question tackled by Lonny Shavelson, MD, an emergency department physician, photojournalist, and author of previous books on subjects as diverse as assisted suicide and the effects of chemical contamination on a community.

In 1997, Shavelson received permission from the city of San Francisco to observe and interview patients attending an intake drug clinic. For the next two years, he followed five individuals who were seeking or were forced into treatment, observing their struggles with drugs and the treatment system. Shavelson skillfully weaves their separate stories with information from (mainly) government sources, interviews, and his own evolving insights. He concludes that the system, although staffed by generally well-intentioned people, does not serve the people who need it most, is often more concerned with maintaining entrenched views on how to treat patients than with the effectiveness of treatment provided, and lacks a commitment to coordinated and continuous care.