As the War on Drugs continues to fill America’s prisons with nonviolent offenders, many cities and states are looking at mandatory treatment as an alternative to incarceration. Although treatment is generally preferable to prison, not all methods of treating drug addiction are the same. Some methods, particularly the “tough love” programs aimed at teens and adolescents, have documented records of mental abuse, physical abuse, and even death.
In her new book, Help at Any Cost, Maia Szalavitz takes a critical look at the history, controversy, and effectiveness of “tough love” rehabilitation programs. Blending personal stories and anecdotes with the detached narrative of a reporter, Szalavitz paints a troubling picture of the increasingly popular “get tough” approach to drug abuse.