Five Stories About Addiction

Stories of drug addiction take many forms; every story is different and intensely personal. This week, read an excerpt from a journalist’s memoir, a profile of a lead singer, a mother’s reflection and more.

1. “My Rehab: Coming of Age in Purgatory.” (Kevin Heldman, The Big Roundtable, September 2013)

Naively, I expected a cut-and-dry story of teenage years spent in and out of rehab. Instead, I read about Kevin Heldman’s experiences in “therapy” centers that used disturbing, humiliating “treatments.” In spite of the staff’s best efforts, Heldman made friends—many whose futures were tainted by their time in the Therapeutic Community.

2. “I Was a Washington Post Reporter. And a Crack Addict.” (Ruben Castenada, Politico, June 2014)

In the shadow of Mayor Marion Barry’s arrest, a young Washington Post reporter works the crime beat and feeds his own drug habit.

3. “Dasher’s Deliverance.” (Max Blau, Creative Loafing Atlanta, December 2014)

Punk band Dasher was recently signed to record label Jagjaguwar, which includes Bon Iver, Sharon Von Etten and Dinosaur Jr. But Dasher’s success has been hard-won; the band’s founder, Kylee Kimbrough, has battled addiction since she was 11 years old.

4. “Graduation Day at Addiction High.” (Carla Sameth, Narratively, December 2014)

A single mom reclaims her life in the wake of her son’s success: “I never thought I’d graduate high school on time. But here I am, thanks to the support of all my brothers in the house,” my son, Raphael, says, as he gives a short speech at the graduation celebration. I never thought Raphael would graduate on time either. Less than a year ago, my son was taking eighty Robitussin caplets at a time.

5. “Giving Up the Ghost”. (Lynn Cunningham, The Walrus, Oct. 2014)

Lynn Cunningham smoked cigarettes for fifty years before making a decision to quit and visit the Mayo Clinic’s Nicotine Dependence Center in Minnesota.