Posted by Sarah Darer Littman on Tuesday, January 4, 2011
I'm very happy to welcome debut author Lena Roy to The Contemps as a guest blogger to talk about such an important topic for today's Hot Topic Tuesday. Her debut novel EDGES came out in December 2010.
Addiction is not easy to write about or to talk about. It is slippery, amorphous, chameleon-like. And intensely personal. A huge part of addiction can be the denial of it, and yet true recovery comes from self-reflection. So of course I have to explore it by writing a novel, and introducing myself to you on this Hot Topic Tuesday. My first novel, Edges was published four Tuesdays ago by Farrar, Straus, Giroux.
Edges takes a look at both sides of addiction through two narratives – we start out with Luke who has fled New York City and his alcoholic father for a youth hostel in Moab, Utah. Later, we meet Ava at an AA meeting in the city, who at 18, thinks she just might be too young to need to get sober.
My uncle died of cirrhosis of the liver due to alcoholism. I was a wild party girl myself as a teen and through my early 20’s, until I watched drugs and alcohol destroy lives, relationships. A friend’s boyfriend was abusive when he drank. Then two of my friends O.D.’d on heroin. A few friends got sober through AA. I went to grad school for psychology and I thought: I’d better clean up my own act. I went on to become a drama therapist specializing in drug and alcohol treatment, with a focus on teens. Just this past year, a friend’s young son, 26, ostensibly clean and sober, getting his life together and going back to school, relapsed and died of a heroin overdose. My friend found him slumped over in his bed. UGLY TRUTH.
We live in an addicted society – to consumerism, drama, war, food, money, celebrities, excitement – not to mention a propensity for drugs and alcohol in our search for happiness. These addictions can give us a sense of wholeness for a while, but end up making us feel emptier than ever. What we need is a true sense of connection. Why do you think another word for alcohol is spirit? We are looking for spirit, we are seeking to transcend, transform, our humdrum experience.
Alcohol and drugs can change our body and brain chemistry. Teens and those in our early 20’s are particularly vulnerable to addiction because we are still growing and developing, Scientists recently discovered that the brain isn’t fully developed until the age of 25!
It can turn into an addiction because drug and alcohol abuse causes drastic drops of serotonin levels in the brain – and the only way to get them back up is to have more of the substance. (There is also a genetic factor to consider. Those with addiction in the family are even more susceptible.) But at this point, other things might start to go awry. Changes in personality, sleep habits, weight, relationships, grades, concentration. Poor impulse control, actions not matching values, engaging in risky, harmful behavior, the list goes on.
Have you, or somebody you know, been affected by addiction? Can a person be “too young” to get help?
If you have any questions, you can find me on my blog at www.lenaroy.com and we can either have a private or a public discussion.
Edges is available on-line everywhere, at independent bookstores, and at Barnes and Noble in the tri-state area.
For more information about alcoholism, AA is a great place to start: http://www.aa.org/lang/en/subpage.cfm?page=1
For families, check out Alanon/Alateen: http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/