Thursday, April 12, 2018

On Pills and Needles by Rick Van Warner

Back Cover:
How could this have happened? How could this sixteen-year-old, who less than a week earlier had left home on a typical Friday morning for school, now be flirting with death by overdose?

When Rick Van Warner found himself searching abandoned buildings for his missing son, he had no idea that the synthetic, pill-form heroin that had snared his teen was already killing so many. In the years of pain and heartache that followed as he tried to save his son from addiction, Van Warner discovered what the public has just recently become aware of: prescription opioids are so addictive that even short-term use can create dependency, igniting an epidemic that now claims nearly 100 American lives each day.

On Pills and Needles is one family's story, but it is also a wake-up call and crash course in opioid addict
ion. Through his harrowing personal journey, Van Warner exposes the common causes of opioid addiction, effective and ineffective ways it has been treated, and how families can walk alongside loved ones who are dealing with the daily agony of addiction.

I took a course on Substance Abuse for my BA, and my counseling courses also dealt a bit with drug abuse as well. But I never got the chance to see inside a family life that was plagued by the recurrence of drugs. We hear of the fatality rate from drugs. We see statistics and rehab programs. Maybe we even see the victims on the sidewalks. 

But until we enter their world, we don't know. 

Rick Van Warner writes honestly through the struggles of drug abuse in his son, Tommy. He recognizes his failings, but learns not to succumb to guilt of them. He learns boundaries, and sees the wisdom of his younger children. He hears wisdom and opinions, and because of or in spite of them he doesn't give up on his child. 

I learned a little more about opioids than I thought I would. How national death statistics can be the result of Big Pharma and marketing skills. How rehab fails. How each victim's rehab may be different than the last person. How parents and siblings cope. How mental breakdowns can cause physical addictions. How it's not always the person's fault for addiction, but also that they choose to fight it or not. How sometimes family relationships can be the only cause of healing. 

I don't agree with all their family lifestyle choices, and I would have liked to hear about church involvement or support for Rick, Tommy, and their family if there was any. They do profess to be Christians, and Rick does mention that Tommy seemed to lack the awareness and stability of knowing there was a high spiritual power, but I didn't see their faith playing a main role in their challenges. 

I loved reading the scenes where family members specifically chose to reach out to one another. This broke through Tommy's mental instability and gave him encouragement and a reason to keep on fighting. His dad begins to approach him in a way that he was lacking and needing before and Tommy ultimately finds freedom because his dad doesn't give up. There were many let downs and set backs. Never knowing if the ninth rehab program would work. Never knowing if you could trust Tommy. Never knowing if he was coming back in a couple hours or a couple days. Never knowing if you were seeing him for the last time. But they fought and helped Tommy fight. They took risks and decided that they were worth it if unconditional love was the basis for their actions. 

If you want something to read about, or another world to enter, or if you need a reason to be passionate or show compassion for the victims of drug use and abuse, then read this book. (Recommended for 18 and older.)

*I was given a free copy of this book from Baker Books Publishing. This review is my honest opinion and I was not required to write a positive review. 

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