The past several years have given way to a rise in the number of opioid related deaths in the United States. Cities across America have struggled with a surge in drug overdoses and lack of proper facilities to handle the deceased. I knew several people who battled an addiction to opioids and all but one are now deceased. It is a soul crushing and life depleting addiction that cuts across all ethnic lines. Many of us know someone who is currently battling an addiction or once did in the past, whether it was opioids, alcohol or some other substance. And what we all know is that addicts do not get clean until they have realized there is no where else to go but in the ground. Dan Peres is a former Editor in Chief for Women’s Wear Daily Details and in this revealing memoir, he details his own struggle with a drug addcition that nearly took his life.
His story begins in Pikesville, Maryland in a run of the mill Jewish family. He recounts his early life growing up in the suburbs before his life changes course and he finds himself at New York University. It is there that the story picks up pace and Dan continues his ascent in the social scene in the city that never sleeps. Journalism soon becomes his calling and he makes his entry into the fashion wold where he exceeds as a journalist and even gets to meet his childhood icon David Copperfield. His job took him to Europe where he makes a home in Paris. His recollections of his time there are some of the best parts of the story. Upon returning to New York, he decides to pull a physical stunt that goes terribly wrong. Two back surgeries and a bottle of Vicodin later, the addict was in the making. And what starts out as simply medication to recover from back surgery, soon turns into a habit which took him to hell and back.
Peres is blessed with sharp wit and his observations of the situations he found himself in and his own behaviour, add a touch of lightheartedness to a story that is quite serious. Professionally, he was able to get by while personally, his life became a mix of drugs, escorts, lies and more drugs. All the while, his maintained a public facade misled most until the demons caught up with him and his life began to unravel. Two pills a day escalated into nearly a two dozen and then even more as the monster of addiction took hold of every facet of his life. Throughout the book, Peres is frank about just how crazy things had become and his state of mind. The story is simply mind-boggling and it truly is a miracle that he did not die.
Before meeting the woman who would become his wife, several women enter and exit the story under assumed names including one known as “Chickpea”. The relationships or what could be better described as unspoken arrangements, highlight the dysfunction in his mind as a result of an addiction that refused to release him from its grip. His addiction pushed him to the brink and the episodes in Tijuana, Mexico and Skid Row in Los Angeles are the moments in the book where we realize he truly went off the deep end. But Peres knows this and in the book, he literally takes himself to task for what could only be described as lunacy. But such is the mind of an addict and Peres succeeds in showing us how addicts function under the influence of the drugs they consume.
After becoming a husband and expectant father, the addiction refused to let him go. The actions of his family and in particular his Aunt Lou, are part of the what saved his life. Their efforts are a prime example of the battles being waged across America today as families struggle to get loved ones the help they need. Peres provides a textbook example of the importance of intervention. This story is a roller coaster ride and I am sure that readers whill find it enjoyable yet sad at the same time. Peres is still alive to tell his tale but others were not so lucky. But just maybe, this heartbreaking story of addiction will be enough to deter the next person from going down the same path. Good read.