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“Whether kids are addicted to drugs, abusing drugs, or using drugs…whether they do drugs to meet or to mute their emotional, spiritual, academic, or developmental needs, their drug use is a tool. Wielding it with varying degrees of self-awareness, they explore their pain, medicate their pain, reveal their pain, and get treatment for their pain.”
Why do teenagers use drugs, what happens to them when they do, and what can we do about it? Venturing into uncharted territory, mother and award-winning journalist Meredith Maran takes us inside teenagers’ hearts, minds, and central nervous systems to explore the causes and consequences of our nation’s drug crisis.
In these pages we get to know the kids, the parents, the therapists, and the drug treatment programs at their best and worst. We’re face-to-face with seventeen-year-old Mike, whose life revolves around selling, smoking, and snorting speed; fifteen-year-old Tristan-the boy next door-who can’t get enough pot, pills, or vodka; and sixteen-year-old Zalika, a runaway, crack dealer, and prostitute since the age of twelve. In their relapses and rebounds we witness the anguish and resilience of teenagers in trouble-a fact of life for far too many American families today.
Combining powerful on-the-street reporting, groundbreaking research, and Maran’s own mothering story, Dirty is essential reading for every parent and professional who works with or cares about children or teenagers.
“Meredith Maran hits a vein in Dirty, a terrifying look at the teenage drug epidemic.”
“Eye-opening and compassionately delivered… colorful and compelling, a sympathetic evocation of ecstasy, heartbreak, horror, and hope. Provocatively revealing, informative, and not without humor, Dirty is itself an addictive read.”
“Maran’s exploration of youthful self-destruction, Dirty, is wrenching as both advocacy journalism and parental confessional.”
-San Francisco Chronicle BEST BOOKS OF 2003
“By choosing kids from such different worlds, Maran manages to present several facets of the nation’s losing war on drugs…What’s most refreshing about Dirty is Maran’s lack of objectivity… [what] makes the book so compelling: her late-night conversations with these self-destructive but incredibly likable teenagers.”
“An insightful, compassionate look at the mistakes we are making with our teenagers…important and timely.”
Dirty is a useful, analytical, painful and hopeful book about adolescent culture on drugs. Read wisely, this book has the potential to transform the cultural landscape of America.
-Dr. Mary Pipher, best-selling author of Reviving Ophelia
Meredith Maran is a wonderful, gifted, fearless writer, and she makes us fall in love with the teenagers she writes about.
-Anne Lamott, best-selling author of Traveling Mercies
Today there are 900,000 African American youth in jail, and only 600,000 in college. Disparate treatment and prosecution for drug offenses is a major way in which youth of color, especially, are funneled into the criminal justice system. Dirty provides critical firsthand information from inside this epidemic of injustice–and insightful ideas about what must be done to end it.
-Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., President and Founder, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition
Dirty is an accurate and realistic portrayal of teen-age drug use. What kids do, how they do it, why they do it. Parents should read this book. Kids should read this book.
-James Frey, best-selling author of A Million Little Pieces
Meredith Maran shares her hard-won knowledge as a journalist in the devastation of the drug war, and then goes further still, to tell her story as a searching Mom. Hearing about these counselors and mothers and fathers and kids left me enraged and hopeful. Dirty‘s news is as necessary as it is devastating, all the while staying close to the complicated heart.
-Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, best-selling author of Random Family
Dirty takes us on a level-headed, no-holds-barred tour of the netherworld of teenage life. Meredith Maran’s heart-wrenching, eye-opening search yields sensible answers every parent should ponder.
-Daniel Goleman, best-selling author of Emotional Intelligence
Dirty is a passionate, compelling cry for America to “get straight” about the real victims of the War on Drugs: our own kids. These real-life stories of teenagers in rehab tell a bigger story about America’s priorities-and how they need to change if we want our kids to have happy, healthy lives. A great read, too!
-Ben Cohen, co- founder, Ben & Jerry’s; President, TrueMajority
Dirty packs the dramatic punch of Traffic but tells the stories of real life teens and their families. Meredith Maran has wildly succeeded in bringing to the reader these kids’ inner thoughts and feelings about their lives — their dreams, despair, cop-outs, achievements and failures. I highly recommend Dirty.
-Lawrence Diller, M.D., author of Running on Ritalin and Should I Medicate My Child
Maran helps us to remember that all youth – even the most challenged – have value and the potential for greatness inside of them. Dirty helps raise awareness and deepen our commitment to see our youth through this critical passage.
-Laura Burney Nissen, Ph.D., M.S.W., National Program Director, Reclaiming Futures: Communities Helping Teens Overcome Drugs, Alcohol and Crime