A woman faces drug addiction when it arrives on her doorstep in the form of family.
As a wife and mother of three children, the North Carolina author knew how important support, guidance, and unconditional love were to a child. Her parental courageousness was put to the test when her brother John shared a serious issue involving his 29-year-old son, Bobby, who became addicted to back pain medication in college and then moved on to heroin. Years spent in and out of rehabilitation facilities had worn Bobby down, and now he was on the streets and feeling suicidal. In 2013, Hodges (co-author: The Triangle Home Book, 1989) welcomed him into her and her husband Will’s home and embarked on a year that proved to be one of the couple’s greatest and most emotionally challenging periods. When a close friend lost her own son to an overdose, the reality of Hodges’ family situation hit home. Despite becoming buoyed by regular contact with her psychologist, the author struggled to relate to Bobby’s late-night pacing, emotional immaturity, the staggering amount of physician-prescribed, mood-altering medications he took daily, and his sky-high drug tolerance that made a scheduled colonoscopy impossible. Throughout the stirring memoir, Hodges deftly weaves in personal impressions about her life, her checkered past with her brother, and her strained marriage to Will. She notes that she considered herself blessed and “privileged,” which made her sense of empathy and compassion for others heightened, especially when Bobby began to open up emotionally to her in the early stages of his stay with her and Will.
As days turned to weeks, Hodges soothed her anxiety around Bobby by enacting house rules that restricted him from stealing, lying, and using drugs but that also proactively offered direction, purpose, and tools for his much-needed stabilization. In her richly detailed account, the author recalls her myriad reactions to Bobby’s plight. Lacking experience in caring for an addict, Hodges was initially hopeful but soon became exhausted with the obsessive push and pull of drug compulsion and fragmented emotions that had become her nephew’s sole existence. Bobby’s eventual relapse and sudden departure took her by surprise but seemed somehow necessary in order to bring them closer together. Her ordeal is strikingly personal and lyrically told through emails (to herself, therapeutically, as well as to others), narration, drug-related articles, and bittersweet memories of her own history of trying to come to terms with a formerly close-knit family that fractured after her father died. “Addiction is exhausting and relentless,” she writes in a poignant section pondering the emotional and physical toll drug abuse had taken on her entire family. Hodges’ bracing year with Bobby ended on an upbeat note as her nephew took the initiative to embrace a fulfilling life structured around work, school, and recovery. The author closes her engrossing story with sobering facts and useful resource materials on the drug abuse epidemic suffocating the nation.
A heartfelt, inspiring, and deeply moving chronology of substance abuse and enduring, unconditional familial love.