While his wife and two-year-old daughter watched TV in the living room, David Poses was in the kitchen, measuring the distance from his index finger to his armpit. He needed to be sure he could pull the trigger with a shotgun barrel in his mouth. Twenty-six inches. Thirty-two years old. More than a decade in a double life fueled by depression and heroin.
In his groundbreaking memoir, The Weight of Air, David chronicles his struggle to overcome mental illness and addiction. By age nineteen, he'd been through medical detox, inpatient rehab, twelve-step programs, and a halfway house. He saw his drug use as a symptom of depression, but the experts insisted that addiction was the problem. Over the next thirteen years, he went from one relapse to the next, drowning in guilt, shame, and secrets, until he finally found an evidence-based treatment that not only saved his life, but helped him thrive.
With grit, humor, and brutal honesty, David's story exposes the danger in traditional recovery models: they actually increase stigma and the risk of overdose, relapse, and death. As depression and addiction rates skyrocket and overdose fatalities surge, The Weight of Air is a scathing indictment of our failed response to the opioid crisis--and proof that success is possible.
Signed copies available at Split Rock Books in Cold Spring, NY.
Read an excerpt in Filter Magazine here
"In this painful, haunting memoir, Poses takes us on a roller-coaster ride: bouts of heroin abuse mixed in with periods of sobriety, which will give readers hope for his prospects--only to have them dashed. . . .A potent addition to the literature on drug addiction and recovery."
Kirkus Reviews (starred)
"Poses's unflinching memoir takes you to the dark corners of addiction--and shows there's a way out."
Eric Eyre, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of Death in Mud Lick
"A searingly honest addiction memoir with a much-needed perspective: addiction is frequently the result of attempts to self-medicate mental illnesses like depression, yet our system treats people with punitive methods that actually make matters worse."
Maia Szalavitz, New York Times best-selling author of Unbroken Brain
"A fluidly written, disarmingly blunt account of heroin addiction and recovery."
Keith Humphreys, White House Drug Policy Adviser to Presidents GW Bush and Obama
"A moving, tender, thoughtful account of addiction and also a compelling critique of a lot that's wrong with the dominant model of addiction treatment."
Johann Hari, New York Times best-selling author of Chasing the Scream
"A riveting and deeply personal account of addiction and the flawed treatment system that repeatedly failed him. . . . The blueprint for hope and survival that is ultimately his story could not arrive at a more important time as the nation grapples with its overdose epidemic."
Gerald Posner, award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author of Pharma
"David Poses shines a spotlight on our 'one size fits all' treatment system in the United States. He uses both dark humor and his vulnerability to paint a picture of a person struggling to get help in a world that is hostile to individual choices. A must-read for those hoping to educate themselves about the issues in the opioid crisis."
Tracey Helton-Mitchell, activist and author of The Big Fix
"The Weight of Air is at once an intensely personal memoir and a much-needed blueprint for saving lives during this time of profound crisis."
Brandon del Pozo, PhD, retired deputy inspector of the New York City Police Department and retired chief of police, Burlington, Vermont
"Poses's offbeat humor leavens the chilling details of an often heartbreaking but ultimately hopeful story."
Carol Giacomo, journalist and former member of the New York Times Editorial Board
"This honest memoir is a gift to the reader--and it will save lives. David Poses holds up depression, self-doubt, and fear for our scrutiny and offers real, tangible hope. This book will be on my mind now--always."
Charlotte Bismuth, author of Bad Medicine
"Poses's all-out honesty is not only compelling, but serves to uncover failures of our system and to illuminate evidence-based practices."
Will Godfrey, founding editor-in-chief of Filter Magazine
"With painful but often funny details, David Poses describes his lifelong depression, which he medicated with heroin and other opioids. In his persistently, courageously contrarian memoir, Poses advocates for opioid substitution medications, an effective, life-saving alternative to the unregulated, shame-laden rehab merry-go-round that sets up patients to fail--and frequently to die."
Carlyn Zwarenstein, author of On Opium
"Entertaining, honest, darkly comedic, and smart as hell, David Poses's The Weight of Air is a painfully accurate portrayal of heroin addiction and the sorts of treatments forced upon us. . . . [His] book is badly needed during a time when the overdose crisis is at its apex."
Amy Dresner, author of My Fair Junkie
"David Poses shares his life story and his struggles with rare, raw honesty. . . . This book will help readers better understand why people use substances and the urgency to reframe our responses and thinking."
Petra Schulz, cofounder of Moms Stop the Harm
"The Weight of Air makes us comes to grips with the fact that opioids are not just used for physical pain--they also ease psychic pain. . . . It takes a special kind of bravery to share the darkest period of your life. . . . [This book] is a testimony to [David's] strength."
Jennifer Hornak, registered nurse who lost her 32-year-old son to a heroin overdose
"By sharing his own story with uninhibited candor, David bravely creates a path for others to do the same. This necessarily includes exposing the underbelly of our nation's broken addiction treatment systems, which have not evolved to keep pace with decades of emerging evidence."
Stephanie Papes Strong, founder and CEO of Boulder Care
"Brutally honest account of one man's journey through the shame and stigma that surrounds substance use, harm reduction, and the treatment that follows. A must-read by David Poses."
Guy Felicella, peer clinical advisor, BCCSU (British Columbia Center on Substance Use)