We define ourselves by the way we relate to other people. We get deep, lasting, and meaningful satisfaction from giving selflessly to, and being present with, others ...
My patients can't do that. They're struggling with the effects of trauma suffered early in life when they were still developing the brain mechanisms that allow them to relate to other people and the world in general. Unable to trust, they grow up without a sense of self. They're overwhelmed by feelings, unable to cope, always out of control. Their brains tell them to manage the pain by getting loaded. Then, when they find their way to us, we ask them to go back and experience that powerlessness, the very thing that sent them off the rails in the first place.No wonder they resist.
-- from Cracked
Dr. Drew Pinsky is best known as cohost of the long-running advice program Loveline. But he is also the medical director of an addiction rehab clinic in Southern California, treating the severest cases of drug dependency and psychiatric breakdown. Now, in this emotionally arresting narrative, Pinsky takes readers into the hospital with him, sharing the stories behind his struggle to help the patients he calls "the disconnected" regain control of their lives.
It is a struggle that feels triumphant one moment, catastrophic the next. The patients Pinsky treats come from every walk and stage of life -- from a young graphic artist to an elderly onetime socialite, from a music-industry talent scout to a BMW-driving soccer mom. Their nemeses include alcohol and marijuana; ecstasy, GHB, and heroin; speed, cocaine, Klonopin, and Vicodin. Yet their trials are eerily similar: Pinsky's patients are all fighting a disease that seizes control of mind and body alike, shattering their lives and depriving them of the very thing they need to survive -- the ability to maintain lasting connections with other people. Each of these patients is rendered with a doctor's compassion and an eye for telling detail. Some we encounter on the promising road to recovery, others are aggressive, subversive, and actively damaging to those around them. Yet the most indelible portraits are those of victims teetering uneasily between recovery and oblivion -- patients like Earle, whose capacity for human connection has been eroded by a lifetime of crack cocaine, and the dynamic, heartbreaking Amber, whose harrowing struggle with opiate addiction tests Pinsky's patience, self-control, and faith.
And at the quiet heart of the book is Pinsky himself, his voice urgent, intimate, vulnerable, and utterly compelling. As he struggles to manage his own compulsions, we witness the extraordinary human toll addiction and other behavioral and psychological dysfunctions can take on patient and doctor alike -- and also the life-affirming magic that each can find on the road to recovery.