There are many books about addiction. Some are written by mothers who give you a glance into their private world of what it’s like having a daughter who is NOT in recovery when the book begins such as if you love me: A mother’s journey through her daughter’s opioid addiction (Henry Holt: 2018) by Maureen Cavanagh or About Natalie ( HCI: 2021) by Christine Pisera Naman with her daughter Anna Naman.
Then, there are unflinching books by journalists such as David Sheff, author of Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction (Houghton Mifflin:2008) and Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy (Houghton Mifflin: 2013). Then, there is a prescriptive book entitled The Addiction Inoculation: Raising Healthy Kids in a Culture of Dependence (Harper Collins: 2021) by Jessica Lahey, an author, journalist and teacher who does NOT have kids in recovery, but is herself in recovery from alcohol. Activist, journalist and in-recovery Ryan Hampton, author of American Fix: Inside the Opioid Addiction Crisis and How to End It ( St. Martin’s Press: 2018) critics the government’s treatment-for-addiction policies and the Sacklers for fueling the opioid crisis and his opioid addiction.
Memoirs abound by authors, now sober, such as Erin Khar, author of Strung Out: One Last Hit and Other Lies That Nearly Killed Me ( Park Row Books: 2020) that in harrowing detail presents her life as a substance abuser, starting at age eight. There are many MD’s who have written about the science of addiction as well as books by recovering therapists, too numerous to mention.
However, it was a Midwestern college professor who has not written a book, but has written about her daughter’s overdose in 2015, at age 22 that caught my eye. Her name is Bev Kelley-Miller, a Wisconsin resident, who approaches addiction from the perspective that “many people have been affected by addiction in one way or another, but not everybody chooses to talk about it.”
To get the people in her state to open up (and there are twice as many overdoses since 2015, according to the Wisconsin State Department of Health Services), she brings a series of public lectures with guest speakers, the brilliantly thought-out “bedroom exhibits” that are designed to educate parents about the signs of drug usage. Ms. Kelley-Miller also remembers the dead as she holds a yearly walk to celebrate people in recovery.
She argues for victims of substance abuse disorder in courts to lessen their jail times. As she says, genes and environmental factors are the factors why people misuse drugs. In prison, only 10% of inmates get treatment yet 65% of incarcerated inmates have addiction issues. Once released, they “pick up” again within two weeks because they are not rehabilitated. It’s obvious why the recidivism rate is high.
The founder of the Megan Kelley Foundation in 2016 Beverly says this about the stigma of addiction: She wants the images and language changed to reflect the disease of addiction, not the stigma: “The media only portrays people in the back alleys shooting up and falling over. Truly, it’s the ordinary people, loved by their family and friends dying in bathrooms and bedrooms. They need help!”
Wesley Cullen Davidson
Wesley Cullen Davidson is an award-winning freelance writer and journalist specializing in parenting. Currently, she is targeting her writing about recovery to parents whose children have substance abuse disorders.