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Pill Head: The Secret Life of a Painkiller Addict Paperback – Bargain Price, July 13, 2010

4.1 out of 5 stars 84 customer reviews

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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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

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.―Publishers Weekly

As real as it gets.―Kirkus

The daring and honest PILL HEAD digs far deeper than the average memoir about addiction. With precision and uncommon empathy, Joshua Lyon exposes the facts about painkillers and those who abuse them; he also fearlessly reveals his own intense, often frightening story. PILL HEAD is a terrific book.―Scott Heim, author of We Disappear and Mysterious Skin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; Reprint edition (July 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401310222
  • ASIN: B0048BPEOY
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #487,187 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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.
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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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Format: Kindle Edition
The only reason I gave this book two stars instead of one was because the writing style deemed it worthy of an additional star. As much as I dislike the content of this book, the author did write a story that flows well and is interesting.

This book was the typical rantings of a drug addict who doesn't take responsibility for his own actions. Without a doubt, the author of this book has borderline personality disorder. He is extremely impulsive, promiscuous, narcissistic, and has a massive fear of abandonment. Throughout the entire book, he is rationalizing with himself about why his drug is addiction is OK. He constantly uses incorrect medical terms when describing medications and diseases. He often describes his choice of drugs based on some sentimental reasoning while saying that two drugs are different (Norco and Vicodin), when chemically speaking, they are exactly the same. As with all the addicts I have ever dealt with, he blames everyone else for his problems. He blames doctors, drug manufacturers, drug dealers, pharmacists, but never ever ever blames the addicts. He goes to rehab multiple times and always has a problem with the staff. His engages in overtly risky sexual behavior time and time again and constitutes contracting HIV as a right of passage as a gay man. He sees no connection with his lurid behavior and his continuing drug addiction.

This book is a true glimpse into the mind of a drug addict. A drug addict does not live in the real world of cause and effect, personal responsibility or rational thought. He constantly avoids rehab because he doesn't like "all that God bulls***". I would be willing to bet my life savings that the author is currently abusing drugs.

Grade: D
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a therapist who lost her 33 yr. old daughter to an overdose of Oxycodone, I could fully relate to this story. Well written and well researched, and presented in a mix of addicted lives, self disclosure, and excellent research, the book becomes a page turner. Unfortunately, my daughter never wanted to quit, and at the end of her journey did not want to live either. The problem is not the pain killers our pharmaceutical companies have provided to society. I have a chronic pain disease and am very thankful for the relief 3 Percocets offer me daily. The problem is that we still turn a blind eye to the suffering of the addict and we dont have enough or adequate treatment facilities, and the norm 2 weeks, if fortunate 28 days, is only a bandaid covering a diseased brain, heart, and body with revolving doors for constant relapses. Our money must be put into research and evidence-based treatments with after care. Rescuing the addicted is part of the war on drugs, but we must view them with mercy and treat them as lovingly as we do our wounded soldiers, because they are worthy Americans too.
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