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Cracked: Life on the Edge in a Rehab Clinic: A Doctor's Story
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Cracked: Life on the Edge in a Rehab Clinic: A Doctor's Story

4.3 33
by Drew Pinsky, Todd Gold (With)

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Dr. Drew Pinsky is best known as the cohost of the long-running radio advice program Loveline. But his workday is spent at a major Southern California clinic, treating the severest cases of drug dependency and psychiatric breakdown. In this riveting book, Pinsky reveals the intimate and often shocking stories of his patients as they struggle with emotional trauma,


Dr. Drew Pinsky is best known as the cohost of the long-running radio advice program Loveline. But his workday is spent at a major Southern California clinic, treating the severest cases of drug dependency and psychiatric breakdown. In this riveting book, Pinsky reveals the intimate and often shocking stories of his patients as they struggle with emotional trauma, sexual abuse, and a host of chemical nemeses: alcohol, marijuana, Ecstasy, heroin, speed, cocaine, and prescription drugs. At the center of these stories is Pinsky himself, who immerses himself passionately, almost obsessively, in his work. From the sexually compulsive model to the BMW-driving soccer mom, Cracked exposes, in fast-moving, powerful vignettes, the true scope and severity of addiction, a nationwide epidemic.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Throughout Pinsky's time hosting MTV's popular Loveline show-in which he and cohost Adam Carolla (The Dr. Drew and Adam Book) frankly answered teen questions about sex and drugs-Pinsky also ran the drug addiction rehab clinic at Las Encinas Hospital in Pasadena, Calif. In this engaging and well-written memoir, he incorporates a frank description of his work with the "manipulative, secretive, frightened, paranoid and unstable" patients at Las Encinas, a single-story bungalow on 30 acres once used as a Hollywood backdrop (this is where W.C. Fields died and Ozzy Osborne's son recently spent time). Pinsky plays down the Tinseltown connection, preferring to look at his entire range of patients, who represent "every possible facet of society, from the rich to the destitute to the socially prominent to the disconnected." What they share are the typical hot buttons of trauma-"pain, abuse, neglect, abandonment"-and the attempt to ease the pain through drug addiction. Pinsky provides a hard-nosed look at the realities of a detox clinic, from the patients' physical illness and flashbacks to doctors' letdown when a patient quits the program and returns to addiction. Pinsky freely admits that he doesn't know why some people "get it" and stay sober while others can't; at the same time, he openly discusses his own problems ("I turned to rescuing other people the same way my patients turn to drugs and alcohol"). (Sept.) Forecast: MTV's Loveline is off the air, but Pinsky's nationally syndicated radio show of the same name draws a huge audience, which may help this book's popularity. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.72(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

It's the second week of a warm August. Early morning. The first one in my family to rise from bed, I shuffle into the kitchen, start the coffee, and get the newspaper at the end of the driveway. We live in a ranch-style home perched on the edge of a canyon in the hills above Pasadena, with deer and coyotes on the prowl, and it's so lovely and quiet at this hour I might as well be five hundred miles from the harshness of the city.

The headlines snap me back to reality. I read the Los Angeles Times sports section, sip coffee between box scores, and enjoy the quiet. Soon my wife, Susan, joins me, followed by the triplets, age ten, who gobble down breakfast, give us kisses, and go off to summer camp.

Outside, the sun begins its climb into a clear blue sky, and I know it's going to be, in the words of Randy Newman, "another perfect day" in L.A.

Perfect for some, perhaps. But not for my patients in the chemical dependency unit at Las Encinas Hospital, a no-frills, twenty-two–bed facility popularly known as "rehab." The truth? For many who occupy those beds, it's their last chance before death. To me, it encompasses everything from desperation to the miracle of giving someone a second or third chance at life, at a better life, actually, than they ever dreamed of being able to have.

From the time I back out of my driveway, it takes me twenty minutes to get there. Once I enter the unit, the warm sun is replaced by the low-voltage hum of fluorescent lights. The perfect L.A. day disappears like a song fading from the radio. I step on linoleum, not grass. And when I look up, instead of endless blue sky, I see Ernesto from Operations staring back down at me from inside the ceiling, where he's fixing the air conditioning.

"Good morning, Dr. Pinsky," he says warmly.

"How's it going?" I wave. Then, as I do at the start of each day, I grab my stethoscope, get an opthalmoscope from under the med cart, and pick up the list of patients I need to see.

Today's list is topped by Mark Mitchell, a good-looking thirty-five-year-old in his third day of detox. Mark has been in and out of our care numerous times. His father is a former pro football player turned car dealer, a local celebrity who shows up in gossip columns, has his photographs hanging in restaurants, and seems like a great guy. The truth? He couldn't give a shit about his son. Mark's been hospitalized here at least five times -- I can't remember exactly -- but he's familiar enough that we've nicknamed him "Mitch." Each time he comes in he looks older, his face creased, grayer beneath his eyes, moving slower.

At the moment, fortunately for me, Mitch isn't as bad as when he was brought in -- smelling of vomit and urine, and barely conscious.

But he's still a wreck. Sprawled on his bed -- imagine the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle before it's put together -- he's tremulous, paranoid, and disorganized. It's normal, all part of the withdrawal from alcohol. The early shift, which admitted Mitch, has already put him on heavy-duty medication to prevent his withdrawal from turning into the DTs, a potentially fatal syndrome where the outflow from the central nervous system is so disorganized that breathing, blood pressure, and other vital functions fail.

Good morning -- yeah, right.

Not for Mitch. I stand there for a moment, observing his condition. It takes him several moments to notice I have entered the room. Once he sees me, Mitch jumps to his feet and grabs a piece of paper from the top of his dresser, shoving it toward me as if it were a weapon. "I'm pissed off," he says angrily, jabbing his finger at a paragraph. "What's this?"

"Wait a minute," I say. "Calm down and let me read."

He's showing me the treatment contract every patient signs on admission. I know what it says without reading it. These are the rules every patient agrees to follow. They include not using drugs, not selling drugs, attending daily group therapy sessions, submitting to urine tests, using the phone only during prescribed hours, and so on. Standard material for someone getting sober. I wrote the contract years ago, and have amended it many times since then. It's nonthreatening to anyone, except those who fear relinquishing control.

Like Mitch. He doesn't know what the hell he's doing or saying. He's out of his mind. His brain is screaming at him to get drunk. Biologically, he craves alcohol more than he wants to breathe. It's driving him crazy. It's hard for him to pay attention to anything else but the urge, and that urge is translated into a scream:

"This is bogus! This is bullshit! You know it. My cousin is a lawyer, and I know it'll never hold up."

At this rate, I think, neither will he.

I take a deep breath and think of what to say. I could ask if he would like a drink -- a vodka tonic? A Heineken? God, that's twisted -- though Mitch wouldn't think so. I could try to reason with him, but there's no reasoning with someone this sick. I could call his cousin and threaten to countersue. (Good thing I'm not a lawyer.) I could slap him across the face, the way they used to do in Three Stooges movies, and hope it startles him into sanity. Or I could just listen and nod.

Actually, my fantasy would be to zap him with something -- a laying-on of hands, a magic shot or electric shock -- and have him all better, sober, clean, with no desire to drink again ...

Cracked. Copyright © by Drew Pinsky. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

One of the most listened-to doctors in America, Dr. Drew Pinsky is a practicing physician who is board certified in internal and addiction medicine. He is the executive producer and host of the hit VH1 reality series Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, Celebrity Rehab Presents Sober House, and Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew. On radio he is the host of the nationally syndicated program Loveline. He is the author of Cracked: Putting Broken Lives Together Again and When Painkillers Become Dangerous. Pinsky lives in Southern California with his wife, Susan, and their teenage triplets.

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Cracked: Life on the Edge in a Rehab Clinic: A Doctor's Story 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
Amber Savage More than 1 year ago
this book is so good!! Its hard to put down!!!
EMT-Dale More than 1 year ago
I may be a little biased since I do like Dr. Drew's work and am in school to be a counselor. This was a very good book to give you an inside view to what it's like to be an addiction counselor. It show's Dr. Drew's compassion for his clients and the heartbreak when a client returns back to old ways after treatment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think i just saw crack in my bestfriends bedroom but im not sure. It wasnt powder... it was a white chunk though and their was a piece of a straw next to it. I nee help knowing wht exactly crack looks like.. please help me?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a real page turner. I'ts hard to put down. It offers a clear and insightful look at addition and treatment that most books don't. Dr Drew Pinsky is a compassionate doctor who I think really understands this disease of addiction. '
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just love Dr. Drew..He is so down to earth, and truly cares about people. I would recommend reading it. It kept my attention. Chris
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ShojoBakunyu More than 1 year ago
My headline pretty much spelled it all out... If you are or know someone dealing with addictions, be they substance addictions or behavioral addictions, or if you are or know a Trauma and Abuse Survivor, PLEASE read this book. It is time that we, as a culture and as a SPECIES, stop ignoring the impact that Childhood Abuse and Genetic Predisposition for Addiction has on the rest of the world. Raped as a child by your uncle or a baby sitter? Why do you think you are bisexual, gender confused, and "Only" seem to date abusers? Mom a pill addicted alcoholic? YOUR chances of getting the series of genetic factors and mental trauma that equal "The Addiction Gene" is 50% and the fact that you were MENTALLY RAPED by being raised by an abusive, neglectful addict only raises your risks of BECOMING THAT WHICH BEGOT YOU! As the adult survivor of an alcoholic and mentally ill mother, I can PERSONALLY trace the history of mental illness, addiction, suicide, rape, and just outright TRAUMA back a dozen generations! Because of the genetic grab-bag of party favors I inherited, I'm physically disabled because of a hip problem on my father's side and borderline with depression and anxiety... I can't hold a job because of the borderline personality disorder which means I can't get insurance to get the hip replacement I've needed since my first hip surgery at age 10. If we as a people would start to DEAL with our abusive sh**-bag mentally ill people and treat this as the DISEASE that it is, there would be no future "Me's" to sit here and suffer thanks to the abuse and genetics that were handed down to me. PLEASE... Please read this book... Trauma survivor or not... It opens up a whole new dimension to the world that our culture purposefully blinds itself to.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be very enlightening. Drew Pinsky is a wonderful, intelligent man and it shows in this book. Cracked gives you insight on what addiction really is and what the disease does to a persons mind.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
In my opinion, CRACKED is the go to book for complete and easily understandable information about addiction. Drew Pinsky shares his personal insights and feelings about being an addictions doctor. I am in recovery and it is as if he got inside my head and put my feelings onto paper.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I recently read this book in three days. I felt the book was very informative as a professional in the field of addiction and recovery. My-self being a recovered alcoholic the stories were believable and made a lot of sense. A must read for all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was absolutely amazing. I read it all at once, then I went back and read a few parts again. I admit some parts were difficult for me, as I can relate all too well to some of the patients. It's been nearly a week since I've read the book, and I still can't get it out of my mind. It's haunting, in a good way. It has definitely shown some light on how 'getting help' is not an entirely negative experience... If Dr. Drew ever decides to write another book, I'll be all over it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was beautifuly written baout an extradinary life. He gives faith that doctors and treatment providers really do care about their patients and aren't juts doing it for the money. I'ts also taught me about addiction and mental illness and I have gained many helpful insights as I am Director of a suicide prevention program. Thank You Drew! - aka'cleo'
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a life-altering book, it really helped me through a rough time in my life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was impossible to put down -- Dr. Drew is as engrossing in print as he is on the radio. I found his description of his practice gripping and eye-opening. You owe it to yourself to read this book, Dr. Pinsky's somewhat shameless plugging of this book on Loveline aside. I had no idea how much really goes in to addiction medicine. It's not only fascinating; it's important.