Archive for July, 2009

“Hey, that’s not a beer is it?”

July 13, 2009

So, I took my Boston Terrier, the fabulous Marcel Bernôn, to an out-of-the-way park on Sunday—as I often do—so he could have a little quality off-the-leash time. As I watched him act-a-fool, I was sipping an energy drink (the drug of choice of the recently sober).

Marcel Bernôn

Marcel Bernôn

A cop that was sitting in his vehicle, doing I-couldn’t-say-what, got out, walked up to me, and said, “Hey, that’s not a beer is it?” I replied, “No, it’s an energy drink, want to see it?” (He declined).

As he walked away, I thought how ridiculous it was for him to ask me that. After which I immediately thought how ridiculous it was for me to think that. A few years ago, there is a good chance it would have been a beer in my hand.

Life is weird.



Deceased Cat Bounce

July 11, 2009


Speaking to a few people in the biz over the last week or so, the talk quickly turned to all of the coverage the Painkiller Epidemic was suddenly receiving from the media. The “death bounce” initiated by Michael Jackson’s passing was in mid-arc. In particular, Joshua Lyon, author of the recently published Pill Head: The Secret Life of a Painkiller Addict told me via e-mail that [media] outlets that originally had no interest in speaking with him were now banging down his door.

But as with Heath Ledger, and many before him, almost before it began… it seems to be ending. I’m still not sold on the drug-death-connection with M.J. anyway, but that is not the point. At least it’s not my point.

My point is that the Painkiller Epidemic is not a “Celeb Thing”. It’s not about movie stars and pop gods. It’s about millions of everyday people, pinching from Mom’s medicine cabinet, being turned on by friends, or becoming dependent after surgeries—and then finding themselves suddenly addicted. Addicted and alone.

It’s about how we suck at identifying these people, and it’s about how we suck even worse at helping them.

Note to the “Media”: This story is not over.


* In this context, “the biz” being those few of us writing and speaking on opiate, opioid, and painkiller addiction issues.

My Interview with Joshua Lyon, Author of “Pill Head: The Secret Life of a Painkiller Addict”

July 5, 2009
Joshua Lyon, Author of Pill Head: The Secret Life of a Painkiller Addict

Joshua Lyon, Author of "Pill Head"

Note: If you like this blog, you will LOVE “Pill Head”. Go buy it. —Ed.

The first thing you notice when speaking with Joshua Lyon, author of PILL HEAD: The Secret Life of a Painkiller Addict, is what a nice guy he is.

I had a chance to speak with Joshua on the phone the other day, and you can tell he has thought a lot about the issues surrounding opiate addiction—his intelligence and concern are unmistakable as he converses easily on the subject.

PILL HEAD adds up to much more than Joshua’s personal experiences. In addition to the recognizable memoir format, he also covers his subjects with a distinct oral history bent; combining aspects of interview, research, and investigative journalism into a truly unique (and long overdue) take on the subject of painkiller addiction.


I also sent Joshua some follow-up questions via e-mail:

SWALLOW: What was the major factor or factors in your decision to write the book?

Joshua Lyon: When I was in the midst of my addiction I looked everywhere for a memoir that dealt with this subject. I found a lot of books about Big Pharma but couldn’t find anything that had a first person account or something I could relate to as a regular user. I decided to try and fill that void. The other big factor was that writing has always been a huge part of helping me work through my problems. The experience was incredibly cathartic.


Told Ya: FDA “Advisory Panel” Recommends Ban on Percocet and Vicodin

July 2, 2009

More on this later. For now, check out the New York Times article.