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Addiction Memoirs are a Genre in Recovery

“STRUNG OUT: ONE LAST HIT AND OTHER LIES THAT NEARLY KILLED ME,” by Erin Khar (February 2020).

Ms. Khar, 46, writes an advice column, Ask Erin, for Ravishly, a feminist site.

Hitting Bottom Ms. Khar began dabbling with heroin at 13. She indulged on and off for the next 15 years, at times stealing from her parents and pawning her possessions to help pay for heroin or crack cocaine. “The lower I got, the more I craved getting lower,” she writes. “I wanted to abandon all my senses and remember nothing. I wanted to get so low that I’d forget my name and my body. I no longer wanted to exist.”

Getting Clean At 28, after learning she was pregnant with her son Atticus, through the 12-step approach; with help from Kundalini yoga and Judaism.

Making Amends “There are a variety of addiction memoirs out there,” Ms. Khar wrote in an email. “I think what many of this next generation have in common, which was certainly a guiding theme in ‘Strung Out,’ is that there is a need to embrace the topic of addiction, from public forums to dinner tables. I hid my addiction for so long because people didn’t perceive me as an addict. And I didn’t reach out for help because I was drowning in shame about it.”

“IN PAIN: A BIOETHICIST’S PERSONAL STRUGGLE WITH OPIOIDS,” by Travis Rieder (June 2019).

Mr. Rieder is a bioethicist, philosopher and author who is the director of the Master of Bioethics degree program, as well as a research scholar, at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics.

Hitting Bottom After a motorcycle accident in 2015, doctors prescribed escalating doses of oxycodone to medicate the pain from five “limb salvage” surgeries. Two months later, his plastic surgeon advised Mr. Rieder to taper off opioids within four weeks, leading to intense withdrawal symptoms, including nausea, flulike symptoms and extreme restlessness that prevented even short naps. “I never thought to myself the precise plan, ‘I will kill myself,’” he writes in the book, “but I knew it was the logical conclusion of my train of thought. If I couldn’t get better, I couldn’t go on living. No one could. This was hell.”