Accidental Addict: a True Story of Pain and Healing....also Marriage, Real Estate, and Cowboy Dancing
From a judge for the Writer's Digest Competition:
"Linda Crew, a talented professional children’s writer, has penned this fascinating testimony to her post-surgery addictions and the accompanying pain and mood swings that shadowed her for so long after the surgeries that it feels like forever. Much of her plight is about drug dependency, but there is so much else that is offered to the reader that will resonate: being a baby boomer, having talented grown children who rattle off completely judgmental comments to her when she tries to show her love and lastly, having a wonderful husband who can be impossible to live with. Crew discovers some help really isn’t and much good luck could just as easily be its opposite. Her witty depictions of the depths she is forced to wallow in, over and over, will warm the heart of every other smart baby boomer woman who feels alone while surrounded by family and marks of alleged success. I dare anyone in that reader category not to consider Crew a personal friend by the end of this memoir. I love her summing up of the time it took her to get through this ordeal! Three and a half years later, she says, when she has rejoined the world, everyone else has aged the same amount of time and, curiously, suffered their own trials! I think a lot of readers will smile at Crew’s glum observations about the view from whichever deep, dark hole she is in (given the page), in recognition that you can call it what you will—drug dependence or depression or bad luck—but it happens to all of us, and some more than others. Accidental Addict is a good title and reflects the story, but it does not get across the treasure of richly witty writing awaiting the reader. "
Not a day goes by that my newsfeed doesn’t include an article about the opioid epidemic, and of course I’m compelled to read them all. So many different takes on the whole mess and what ought to be done to fix it. Now we even have our idiot President piping up with useless verbiage about instituting a new sort of “just say no” program for young people, when anybody who’s paying any attention at all knows this is not where this problem originates.
I read all the articles with a certain dismay. Having walked through this particular Valley of the Shadow myself, I have come through it with what somebody on NPR talking about PTSD the other day called a terrible knowledge. Terrible knowledge. That expresses it perfectly. Because I can’t unknow what I know. When I read about babies being born addicted and ushered immediately into withdrawal, I don’t just see the video clip of the shuddering baby, I am viscerally returned to that horrible state, and have to imagine what it would be like for a baby to be greeted by the world with physical feelings that make a grown person long to leave it.
What’s always missing in the articles is the hard truth of how long it takes for a person to feel truly well again after having become addicted to opioids. No wonder people relapse, when treatment centers usher them out in just three weeks. How are all these young people supposed to “stay clean” if the ones supposedly supporting them don’t realize what it’s like to go around with a compromised dopamine system? Which is to say you are majorly bummed out for a long long time. I never relapsed myself, but I can certainly understand how it happens.
And then, while the opioid epidemic gets all the attention, the more insidious issue of benzodiazepines—anti-anxiety drugs—goes largely unrecognized. Getting off of benzos can be far more difficult that tapering opioids, and there’s even less support and sympathy from the doctors who put the person on them in the first place.
The Eugene Register-Guard did a feature article about me and my book, and I was surprised that not one word in it was about my difficulties with Xanax. Well, I guess if it took me a whole book to explain it, it might be a bit complicated for an intern to work into a newpaper article. The net result, though, is that people are launching into my book thinking they’ll read up on opioid addiction because of some loved one they’re worried about, only to find out that my more difficult withdrawal was from a benzo, something they themselves were put on to cope with the stress of their childrens’ drug issues.
Such a common story, especially with women. Get stressed out worrying about everybody around you, then when you go to the doctor for help, a prescription pad is whipped out and you are sent on the road to hell. I just hope my book can continue to give a few poor souls the heads up I wish I’d had.
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ADVANCED PRAISE FOR ACCIDENTAL ADDICT:
After telling in lucid prose how she become an Accidental Addict, Linda Crew provides a prescription that all of medicine should heed: "A doctor should never prescribe a drug without an understanding of what it takes to get off of that drug, and a willingness to help his patient accomplish this." One hopes that everyone who prescribes benzodiazepines and opioid painkillers will read this compelling memoir.
Robert Whitaker, Anatomy of an Epidemic
Crew's inspiring triumph over addiction and withdrawal is a lifeline for anyone struggling to recover from prescription painkillers or anti-anxiety medications…. a brutal eye-opener for bystander friends, family, and doctors at a loss for clarity and compassion who, inadvertently, reopen the dark, black hole of desperation. This bold memoir is a riveting roller coaster of devastating defeat, tenacious courage, and exhilarating joy, gratitude, and hope.
Gretchen Olson, Call Me Hope
I hope this timely book gets widely read. Linda Crew's experience has been shared by millions of Americans and many have lost their lives. The medical community has accidentally created an epidemic of addiction by overprescribing narcotics, and now everyone, including prescribers, needs to know how easily these drugs can destroy lives.
Andrew Kolodny, MD—Executive Director, Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing
Accidental Addict is an excruciatingly tender, necessary work, wonderfully written, so compelling, so honest. Incredibly personal and filled with love. The many, many people who don't even know this is happening to them will thank Linda Crew over and over.
Jane Kirkpatrick, Homestead
I found myself instantly drawn into her story, and her witty delivery kept me engaged. Definitely a wake-up call for all of us about the perils of painkiller and anti-anxiety medication use, and the way doctors have carelessly over-prescribed these drugs in the last few decades. A fascinating (and scary) read that won't be easy to forget.
Margot Vance-Borland, LPC
Linda Crew clearly has a gift. Her memoir about the unrecognized epidemic of protracted withdrawal illnesses caused by benzodiazepines and other psychiatric drugs is written like a novel and, like a brilliant piece of fiction, gets under your skin…an important piece of literature that may help educate many.
Monica Cassani, author and editor of Beyond Meds, prize-winning web magazine
Linda Crew's Accidental Addict is a must read for all medical students across America, and physicians who treat pain will find this book very useful as they rethink the way they are prescribing narcotics....a superb book on an enormous medical issue of our time.
Mark Rampton, M.D., 1996 Oregon Family Doctor of the Year, team physician with Haiti Health Initiative
Addiction to prescribed medications, due to the actions of well-meaning medical professionals, has become alarmingly common across the country today. Linda Crew has written a compelling and bravely honest memoir of her struggle and recovery from the aftereffects of legally prescribed narcotic painkillers and benzodiazepines. Her voice is clear on their devastating impact, and her story is one that needs to be widely read and shared by both patients and providers.
Catherine Saeger, LICSW
If you believe that smart, strong, successful people who faithfully follow the rules, listen to their doctors, and have a solid and impressive support system of family and friends are not the "sorts of folks" who become addicted to prescription narcotics for post-surgical pain, then you'd best read Linda Crew's Accidental Addict, a memoir that's as harrowing, honest, and raw as it is timely. Crew writes with a ferocious energy, as though she's determined to finish the book even as the walls of her own home are crashing down around her.
Rick Borsten, The Great Equalizer