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Pill Head: The Secret Life of a Painkiller Addictby Joshua Lyon
Synopses & Reviews
Joshua Lyon first bought Vicodin illegally, over the internet, on assignment for Jane magazine. But taking three of them at once wasn't part of the job — he did that to see what all the fuss was about. In a matter of weeks he'd blown through the first 90 and was jonesing for more. And he wasn't alone: 33 million Americans have admitted to using prescription painkillers like Vicodin, Oxycontin, and Percocet non-medically, and 7 million are currently abusing them. That's more than the number who use cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, Ecstasy, and inhalants combined. It's an 80% increase in just six years — prescription meds are the new drug user's drug of choice, no matter the demographic.
In Pill Head, the first book to bring together the journalist's eye and the addict's mind, Lyon explores both his own addiction and the cultural phenomena that made pill-popping so popular, especially among the twenty-somethings of Generation Rx. Including insights gleaned from interviews with experts and shocking, often painful, profiles of current and former recreational users, it is equal parts memoir and gripping investigative journalism.
"For a Jane magazine article, Lyon bought Vicodin illegally over the Internet. After devouring the painkillers he immediately ordered more, his journalistic research turning into a full-fledged addiction. Lyon had company in his opiate abuse — more than 33 million Americans have used prescription painkillers nonmedically, he notes. The seven million currently abusing Vicodin, Oxycontin, Percocet, et al., are more than those who use cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, Ecstasy and meth combined. As Lyon researched his book — and fed his continuing addiction — he explored the latest permutation of the American drug culture, one that has snared everyone from doctors and schoolkids to grandmothers on social security. Lyon interpolates memoir segments between interviews with experts and profiles of other abusers. The fact that he also strongly advocates certain policy and treatment strategies adds another element to an already broad approach. The resulting swirl of characters, story lines and perspectives at first makes it difficult to find a narrative thread. Yet Lyon writes powerfully about his own experiences as a young, troubled gay man in New York City, and it's this human story that stays with the reader. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The painful evolution of a gay New York City drug addict, from first encounter to detox....His long road to recovery is just beginning when this searing chronicle concludes. As real as it gets." Kirkus
Bringing together both the journalist's eye and the addict's mind, Pill Head explores Lyon's own addiction and the cultural phenomena that made pill-popping so popular, especially among the twenty-somethings of Generation Rx.
"Joshua Lyon preferred opiates, America's fastest growing addiction, and in this enlightening and harrowing pill by pill tour, he maps the secret trades that are taking place in every workplace, gym, bar, and neighborhood. With Pill Head, he demonstrates a crafty addict's ability to rationalize illicit pleasure, and a shrewd journalist's sense to doubt the long-term prospects of artificial narcotic happiness."
--Michael Stein, author of The Addict: One Patient, One Doctor, One Year
"Pill Head is the perfect combination of informative and deeply personal; alarming and even sad. I wanted to hug Joshua Lyon after reading this. Anyone who has ever taken prescription medication recreationally should read this book. It's an eye-opener and it's not pretty, and it will speak to every single person who picks it up."
--Lesley Arfin, author of Dear Diary
"If we were smart about combating addiction in this country--and, sadly, we aren't--we would chill out about marijuana and freak out about prescription drugs. We are a nation of pill heads, and Joshua Lyon, a pill-head extraordinaire, wants us to step slowly away from the medicine cabinet. Read this much-needed book, and you'll understand why."
--Benoit Denizet Lewis, author of America Anonymous: Eight Addicts in Search of a Life
"Lyon writes powerfully about his own experiences as a young, troubled gay man in New York City, and it's this human story that stays with the reader."
"As real as it gets."
"Journalist Joshua Lyon synthesizes cultural analysis with his own addiction experience to explore the fascinating world of prescription pain killers and their powerful grip. Part investigative journalism, part memoir, Lyon's book illuminates the difficulties of being hooked on legal drugs and how this problem has swept wildly across various demographics."
The daring and honest PILL HEAD digs far deeper than the average memoir about addiction. With precision and uncommon empathy, Joshua Lyon exposes the facts about painkillers and those who abuse them; he also fearlessly reveals his own intense, often frightening story. PILL HEAD is a terrific book.
--Scott Heim, author of We Disappear and Mysterious Skin
This compelling, honest book investigates the growing epidemic of prescription painkiller abuse among today's Generation Rx. Through gripping profiles and heartbreaking confessions, this memoir dares to uncover the reality--the addiction, the withdrawal, and the recovery--of this newest generation of pill poppers.
Joshua Lyon was no stranger to substance abuse. By the time he was seventeen, he had already found sanctuary in pot, cocaine, Ecstasy, and mushrooms--just to name a few. Ten years later, on assignment for Jane magazine, he found himself with a two-inch-thick bottle of Vicodin in his hands and only one decision to make: dispose of the bottle or give in to his curiosity. He chose the latter. In a matter of weeks he'd found his perfect drug.
In the early half of this decade, purchasing painkillers without a doctor was as easy as going online and checking the spam filter in your inbox. The accessibility of these drugs--paired with a false perception of their safety--contributed to their epidemic-like spread throughout America's twenty-something youth, a group dubbed Generation Rx. Pill Head is Joshua Lyon's harrowing and bold account of this generation, and it's also a memoir about his own struggle to recover from his addiction to painkillers. The story of so many who have shared this experience--from discovery to addiction to rehabilitation--Pill Head follows the lives of several young people much like Joshua and dares to blow open the cultural phenomena of America's newest pill-popping generation.
Marrying the journalist's eye with the addict's mind, Joshua takes readers through the shocking and often painful profiles of recreational users and suffering addicts as they fight to recover. Pill Head is not only a memoir of descent, but of endurance and of determination. Ultimately, it is a story of encouragement for anyone who is wrestling to overcome addiction, and anyone who is looking for the strength to heal.
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