Addiction: What’s Really Going On?

Book Review
Addiction: What’s Really Going On?
By Deborah McCloskey and Barbara Sinor, Ph.D
Reviewed by Trisha Faye

Addiction: What’s Really Going On? tells the inside story of a methadone treatment clinic in Los Angeles, California in the 1990s. This book gives insight into the world of addiction and recovery; helpful for the addicted, those that work in the field, family members, and those fighting addiction issues in their lives or those of loved ones.

The book is co-authored by Deborah McCloskey and Barbara Sinor. Friends and colleagues through the years, they joined together for this joint effort. Deborah, Allie in the book, was the recovery counselor with the experience in the clinic and wrote copious notes. Barbara, Dora in the book and Dr. Sinor in real life, also specializes in recovery issues ranging from childhood abuse to alcohol and drug addiction. When Deborah’s battle with cancer ended her story’s getting published, Barbara stepped in to her friend’s aide and completed the manuscript and ensured the book’s publication.

Both women hoped to show the world of addiction and recovery in a balanced way, a world teetering between darkness and illumination. These two friends shared many similarities in their lives:  Both have had the common desire to unravel the mysteries of addiction and its power over lives. Both searched holistically for answers. Both questioned society’s views on addiction. Both were passionate about their field. Both chose alternative ways to combat and deal with addictions whenever possible.

They were two human angels, filled with compassion for humanity. Barbara continues wearing her earthly wings, while Deborah now watches from another realm.

Jane, Eleanor, Rita and Katy, Daniel, Linda, Simon, Annie and more, all clients at the clinic, have their own stories. Some will scare you, some will horrify you. If you haven’t been around anyone struggling with addictions, some of the stories will make you feel like you’ve led a very sheltered life. I was amazed to hear how many families are addicted to heroin, sometimes three generations are clients at methadone clinics. Parents and children, uncles and nephews, husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends; the dynamics of addiction seem to cross all lines.

Through Deborah and Barbara, you meet some of the clients and learn about their lives. You hear about how some of them came to use heroin. You learn about the trials and tribulations in their lives. Much of the time they are also coping with domestic abuse, jail (for themselves or a partner), children being taken away, financial problems, and a myriad of health issues.  Some medical issues are secondary to drug abuse, some are related to the lifestyle associated with addiction, and some just associated with poor health. And, occasionally, you will read about the end of someone’s addiction due to their death, an unfortunate statistic in this gruesome fight.

Most of the clients you will meet in these pages truly want to find an end to the vicious cycle they’re trapped in. A few don’t; they are there to “play the system.” Your heart breaks for those that try to become clean and but do not succeed.

You cheer and applaud the success stories, however pathetically few compared to the numbers that are not.

I doubt anyone could read about the lives intertwined throughout Addiction and not have a greater understanding of the world of addiction, even if only to understand how much more there is to know and learn about the problem affecting so many lives.

But yet, is there anyone who does not fight addiction in one form or another? In the book, Deborah (as Counselor Allie) points out to one of the clients that humanity itself is prone to addiction. She points out how most people tend to park in the same spot, or take the same route to work everyday. Our routine and everyday habits may be more closely intertwined with other habits than we ever knew.

To that, I add my own examples, such as the Diet Coke I spent so many years trying to “kick.” Ten years later – and for the third time – I think I finally have the “habit” broken. But sometimes, all it takes is one and I am right back to where I was before. Other habits many of us face:  Chocolate, Sugar, Fast foods and fatty, greasy foods.

Addictions come in so many forms. However, the Diet Coke, or chocolate, is legal. Although it’s not good for us, the effects on our health and our lives are relatively minor compared to the havoc that heroin, alcohol, or other drugs can bring. But, just because it’s legal and socially acceptable, that doesn’t mean the rest of us are any better than those fighting the devastating villains of illicit drugs or alcohol. We’re all human; we’re all in this together. [Added as my own reviewer opinion.]

Through her years as a counselor, Deborah discovered that the reality of a methadone clinic is not what the text books had taught her. Juggling her own personal struggles of her marriage falling apart and her mother’s health deteriorating until her ultimate death, Deborah maintained her compassion and her desire to make a difference  despite the human, ethical and bureaucratic limitations. Barbara shows Deborah in the light of a truly caring person, someone I wish I could have met on this earthly plane.

The boundaries of my sometimes small, most-times-sheltered, world have been broadened since reading Addition. My heart is filled with an ache in trying to see the addict’s struggles in a new light. My heart is filled with joy, knowing there are caring people in this field, such as Deborah and Barbara, giving of themselves, their energy, their love, and their healing.

My life is richer from meeting the clients in the pages of Addiction. I recommend this book to anyone struggling with addiction, loved ones of those addicted, and those sober and straight. It will touch your heart and teach you lessons you did not expect.


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August 2012
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