cover image Pill Head: The Secret Life of a Painkiller Addict

Pill Head: The Secret Life of a Painkiller Addict

Joshua Lyon, . . Hyperion, $23.99 (270pp) ISBN 978-1-4013-2298-4

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)