“In 2016 alone, over 42,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses—a twenty eight percent increase compared to 2015. Deaths from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids doubled.” —Lisa Hicks, Austin American Statesman, April 28, 2018″What happened here? Over ten years ago, doctors began assessing pain as a fifth vital sign. Physicians were instructed to reduce pain levels by prescribing any number of pain medications. Shortly thereafter, millions of Americans were beginning to use opiate based medications for even moderate levels of discomfort.” —B. Georgi, Clinical Addiction Specialist
Enough cannot be said about Renee Hodges’ courageous memoir chronicling a nearly two-year period in which she and her husband Will took in what seemed to be a terminal, hopeless-case opioid junkie—Renee’s nephew, Bobby. President Trump may make mention of our country’s current opioid crisis, but policies alone cannot accomplish what the small community depicted here in Durham, North Carolina did, as led by Renee Hodges. She states: “I didn’t go into my nephew Bobby’s recovery with any professional experience, but…if I wanted to help my loved one, I should surround him with an atmosphere of full disclosure and transparency, a supportive place where he could not hide nor be hidden…Addiction is not a parenting failure or something to be embarrassed about. Secrecy, cover-ups, excuses, and denial do not help an addict or recovery.”
Hodges enlists the help of her own psychologist, a psychotherapist for Bobby, friends, church members, neighbors and eventually even her husband Will warms up to Bobby. Renee believes that Bobby will “change the world” in setting himself on the right path to independence, but I believe this memoir—that is, the story alone—could also change the world.
The Hodges’ practical day-to-day structures, successes, failures, and thoughts found within the pages of this memoir can guide families who also struggle with how to help a loved one addicted to opioids. Uncompromising in love and support, this family strives to stay hopeful in the face of overwhelmingly unfavorable odds. Because it is an easy-to-read narrative with journal entries, emails, and texts intertwined, most readers won’t want to put it down. I cried, knowing that Bobby was relapsing at one point, but bolstered myself upon reading his therapist George’s comment, “Bobby’s recovery has to be Bobby’s recovery.” It’s the emotional rollercoaster of addiction that just keeps readers unsure of the outcome.
In my world, I know of five deaths of young people due to opioid overdosing, so this book spoke to me in many, many ways and on multiple levels. As Hodges writes, “It was staggering to discover how many people in my circle of friends, in my neighborhood and community, were on a parallel journey, dealing with addiction in their own families, and dealing alone.” We know… and thank you, Renee Hodges, simply, thank you.