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Pill Head: The Secret Life of a Painkiller Addict Hardcover – July 7, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-1401322984 ISBN-10: 1401322980 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; First Edition edition (July 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401322980
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401322984
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,072,847 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"Joshua Lyon preferred opiates, America's fastest growing addiction, and in this enlightening and harrowing pill by pill tour, he maps the secret trades that are taking place in every workplace, gym, bar, and neighborhood. With Pill Head, he demonstrates a crafty addict's ability to rationalize illicit pleasure, and a shrewd journalist's sense to doubt the long-term prospects of artificial narcotic happiness."—Michael Stein, author of The Addict: One Patient, One Doctor, One Year

"Pill Head is the perfect combination of informative and deeply personal; alarming and even sad. I wanted to hug Joshua Lyon after reading this. Anyone who has ever taken prescription medication recreationally should read this book. It's an eye-opener and it's not pretty, and it will speak to every single person who picks it up."—Lesley Arfin, author of Dear Diary

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Customer Reviews

I didn't even want the stuff in the house after reading how good medication for pain can become someone else's addiction.
Crystal M. Toegel
Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone: an addict, a recovering addict, friends/family of addicts, parents, teenagers, and everyone in between.
Ashley Simpson
This is the true, sad, moving and totally engrossing account of one person's hidden struggle with an addiction to painkillers.
Kiley E. Oram

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 57 people found the following review helpful By William M. Doolittle Jr. on July 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover
After reading all these reviews I bought Pill Head straight away. I guess it is true there is no accounting for taste. A recovering addict myself, I read lots of books about addiction. This one reads like a series of routine cheap magazine pieces strung together. Much of the time the process is glamorized, except when the addict hits bottom. There is nearly no introspection, no motivation, no attempt to discover why all these addicts are taking these drugs. It is simply: she did this, and took that, then did this, etc. etc . A big disappointment.
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Format: Hardcover
Joshua Lyon, author of Pill Head, has penned a book that could not be more timely. Pill Head is part drug addled memoir and part thoughtful, investigative journalism; it is the story of a pill addict told with unflinching honesty, from first pill to detox. The book weaves together the stories of addicts, doctors, and governmental agents--effectively demonstrating how the lives and decisions of each are intertwined in America's new drug epidemic--prescription pills.

Lyon admits that prior to his Vicodin use, he had sampled plenty of goodies from the recreational drug grab bag; ecstasy, coke, mushrooms, marijuana and LSD. While he might have been a self professed "expert at escapism," he wasn't an addict. He was a young, experimental, gay man with social anxiety; living and working in New York City as an editor of the popular magazine Jane. He, not unlike thousands of people, partied just hard enough one night a week to be left incapacitated the rest of the weekend. But when he first got a hold of Vicodin, as research for a magazine assignment in 2003, all prior dabbling paled in sensation to this new wonder drug. That pivotal night, instead of flushing the pills as instructed by his editor, Lyon found himself defiantly taking three Vicodin and later professing out loud, "This is what I've been waiting for my whole life."

Lyon escorts us into the lives of other pill heads who were also entranced by that feeling, even as addiction led them into emotional, spiritual, physical and financial despair.
Read more ›
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jared on November 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Joshua Lyon fell in love with the euphoria produced by narcotics...but this book is much more...

Like me, Joshua was no stranger to experimenting with various drugs in his younger years. He drank and tried just about anything thrown his way. Also like me, the narcotics seemed to be just the right fit. They're safe right? Doctors prescribe them so the must be. It's a false assumption made by many abusers. He discusses how prescription drugs offer this false sense of security and safety and he even presents a very nice explanation of the pharmacology of these drugs that impressed even this pharmacist- obviously he'd done his homework. Also he demonstrates how easy these drugs are to obtain.

Joshua takes us on his own journey through experimentation, addiction, and withdrawl- and visits the lives of some of some other folks at various stages of their use and abuse. Amazing how many times I found myself nodding my head, relating to the things he was saying and feeling.

The book kept my attention, entertained and educated me. After reading, I felt like I knew him personally- a true sign of a good memoir.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By L. Read on June 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I would love to thank Joshua Lyon for writing this. This book was a huge comfort and also confirmed so many of the things I have personally gone through, researched, wondered and felt. I would like to read a book about Emily's story as well! Some of her quotes felt as if they were echoed from my own mind. I am already going through and highlighting my favorite parts, and will definitely be reading it again.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ms. Melanie on January 13, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not only is this book well written, it is very easy to read, entertaining, and informative. Joshua Lyon tells the research he did for the book from talking to the DEA, people he interviews, and professors and professionals in the pharmaceutical world. This would be a great book for a parent to read if their child has an addiction problem, a person who uses drugs occasionally, or a person thinking whether or not they have a problem. Such a great book I will read it more than once, and I usually do not do that.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By brainiacthemaniac on May 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
I purchased this as my first Kindle read, I was not sure how I would like reading on my Android phone, but I love it!!!! This book is amazing and an exact match to what had become my life as a result of serious pill addiction. His true account of the ravages of painkiller addiction and how they impact one's personal life was very refreshing as well as a little scary! Mr. Lyon does an incredible job with this book, I definitely recommend as a read not just for painkiller addicts, but readers of all variety alike.Pill Head: The Secret Life of a Painkiller Addict
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. on April 22, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I appreciate that the author gave the time and focus he did on this subject. I highlighted only a single line that I found really strikes at the heart of this issue: "It isn't enough that I want to help them. I need to learn how to want to help myself." Enabling because they "want to help" is the idealistic battlecry of family, doctors, friends, all thinking they're acting in the best interest. Think Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, or any other drug addict--I'd bet they were surrounded by helpers and sympathizers, not one of them focused on the right thing to do. This book makes it clear, those of us who want to "help" others should first put our focus on wanting to help ourselves tame our own demons.
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