Love and Kisses From My Padded Cell by Ellie Katz

As the nation faces a drug crisis almost all of us can name someone we know that has faced addiction head on or died because of it.  We sometimes struggle to understand why someone would chose to do drugs or abuse alcohol and the book Love and Kisses from my Padded Cell by Dr. Ellie Henkind Katz takes a look at addiction in its various forms and why so many people we know end up there.  The book looks at ten different stories from people the author has counseled or has ended up becoming a mentor in the program where he counsels people that show us how their life turned them to different addictions.  Aside from the drugs and alcohol, the author looks at binge eating, anorexia/bulimia, OCD, and gambling.  Katz asks his clients to start at the beginning leading up to the addiction and ends with them seeking successful treatment.

The stories were very interesting in some of the addiction that they detailed.  Some clients has very specific and odd obsessions or compulsions.  They made decisions that made me hurt for them and that made no sense to me even knowing their background to try to relieve some of the stress and make ends meet for them and sometimes their families.  Almost every story began with abuse and torture in childhood and even weird family constellations that led them down the path they took.  The addiction was usually an escape method or sometimes even perpetuated by a family member who was already addicted just passing it off to the next generation.  There’s so much to be said for the devastating aftermath of abuse in childhood and this book is a good example of it.  The author provides some dialogue between he and his clients that retell the stories to make it move the story forward in a more succinct and more fascinating to read way.  However, the author doesn’t do much to give the client their own interesting voice which was a little disappointing as I wanted to get to know each person he was introducing us to better.  The book is also well edited and laid out in an easy to follow manner.  It was also nice to see the author so humble that he wasn’t taking credit for anything that moved the client forward and was simply presenting the stories they had.

The part I didn’t like about this book was that I found myself vested in each of the people the author wrote about.  I understood what had led them to the path where they were addicted to something and found themselves in horrible situation after horrible situation making bad decision after bad decision.  The end of the chapter was what let me down.  While several stories told about the effort of the client to seek some counseling or rehab program there weren’t very many details about why it failed them and what happened while they were there.  The ends of the chapters can basically be summed up by saying that they client came to this program and was able to get themselves back on track and live a better life.  I wondered in reality why kind of struggle the client dealt with at this program.  I wonder why this program was working and while the author isn’t ready to call himself a hero and savior for these people I want to know why their program is working.  I wanted to know the struggles of recovery these people went through and it just wasn’t there.  And because it just wasn’t there it leads to a dangerous misperception that rehab is easy and simple and I know that isn’t the truth.  I know most clients go through multiple programs and various relapses before it help them and I want to know why this is such a good program.  I also felt like there were so many details about the childhood and mishaps of these people that the end was more a less a let down; it was vague and neatly squared away versus the enormous detail of the addiction.

This is a good book for people who want to understand how and why people come to be addicted and also a source of hope for those who are addicted to let them know they aren’t alone in their struggle and that they can recover.  I wish the endings had been more detailed but other than that I think the author did a wonderful job in conveying the stories of those he has worked with or gotten to know through his work.  He picked an interesting variety of addictions to represent a diverse cast of clients as well and make the book more engaging.  If you know or love someone who is addicted to something this is a good book to read to begin to understand how they may have come to be that way and open up a dialogue with them.

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