Physician Morrison was 12 years old, growing up in Fayettville, Ala., when she began taking her mother's Darvon: ""I would take the capsules apart, pour out the powder, and eat scores of those little pink balls."" For the next 17 years, Morrison abused a staggering amount and variety of drugs, among them amphetamines, cocaine, codeine, Percodan, Demerol, Dilaudid, marijuana, and alcohol. Aside from the feat of simply surviving such a pharmaceutical onslaught, Morrison's story is of note because during the same 17 years she completed high school, college, medical school (writing bogus prescriptions for herself), and was finishing her residency in psychiatry when she finally entered a treatment program at Georgia's Ridgeview Institute as an end-stage addict. Drawing from her own records, and in retrospective interviews with family and friends, Morrison here chronicles the truly horrifying progression to this ""end stage"" addiction. The magnitude of her drug abuse, and the fact that she was able to function at all, let alone excel, are the big stories here, but an interesting sidelight is how those around Morrison managed to ignore the problems (""In the late sixties, doctors were prescribing amphetamines for even mild weight problems. I would go into a drugstore 30 or 40 pounds underweight and pass forged prescriptions. . .cocaine came either off the street or from drugstore burglaries""). She was first hospitalized in high school (her parents sent the police to pick her up during a final exam, since she had run away from home but was sporadically attending school). At the time, she was 5'10"", weighed 103 lbs., had serum hepatitis, and was injecting amphetamines 10-20 times daily. After several such hospitalizations, Morrison developed a specific plan with the aim of being able to continue her beloved drug habit: ""my three hospitalizations, my rehabilitation stay, and my halfway house experience had taught me one thing: people would lock me up if they knew I was taking drugs. I decided to clean up my act, go to school, make excellent grades, and con the hell out of everyone."" Morrison did just that: juggling her drug intake to balance ups and downs, and fooling everyone for years. Eventually, she was pushed into the treatment program that saved her life--and that she also chronicles here. When she entered treatment, she was chillingly aware of her plight: ""I couldn't get high and I couldn't come down. I was caught--desperate and doomed. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I was without hope. And I knew I was dying."" An outstanding account, honestly told.
Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1988
Page Count: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1988
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