Just a few years ago, Jason Smith was lying in his bathtub, the blood slowly draining from his slit wrists. Now he is here to tell us how he reached the point of suicide after his long, dark descent into prescription opiate abuse. The Bitter Taste Dying is a story of resurrection told by an author who has literally come back from the black grip of death.
Today’s junkies are not just on the street corner anymore. Big Pharma are the suppliers, and doctors are the pushers, cultivating (perhaps inadvertently, but that’s debatable) a massive population of addicts from all demographics.
After a severe car accident, Smith has back surgery and is given a perpetual menu of painkillers and muscle relaxers by his physicians. It doesn’t take long for the high schooler to realize that by taking more than the recommended dosage, he could obtain the warm, euphoric mental and physical comfort only opiates can bring. But all too soon he also discovers the pangs of withdrawal whenever his medication runs out.
If anyone has difficulty understanding what an addict feels like, Smith describes it with painful accuracy.
“You know that feeling of having your head held under water, the last of your oxygen depleted, where very fiber of your being screams at you to get to the surface for more air? That’s the feeling of needing more drugs…”
As Smith grows into a man, his addiction grows to mammoth proportions and he must go through heroic efforts to keep himself in pills and Fentanyl patches. Smith tells the story in an approachable, conversational tone that may have you laughing out loud at some parts. As horrendous as it is watching how far he would go and how morally low he would sink to get more drugs, it’s difficult not to marvel at his ingenuity and boldness.
At the same time, Smith writes with tender honesty and cutting unabashedness that is rare in any writer, much less any human being. The reader immediately feels very close to him, making his shocking confessions feel like blows.
The Bitter Taste of Dying is an important book that underscores the urgency with which society has to address the prescription drug abuse epidemic. It allows us to watch with uncomfortable closeness how easy it is to develop an addiction to pain medication and how quickly and mercilessly it can devour one’s entire life.
From aspiring football star to international criminal, Smith shows us step by step how opiate addiction can happen to anyone you know, and very likely destroy them. Most importantly, The Bitter Taste of Dying reveals the light at the end of the tunnel–even the most hopeless addict can make it out alive.
Jonathan Alter, former Senior Editor Newsweek, MSNBC, et. al. says, “This memoir grabs you by the throat on the first page and doesn’t let go until you’re done, in one sitting–gasping for breath because you know, finally, what it’s like to be a drug addict without having been one yourself.”
NY Times bestselling author Jerry Stahl of Permanent Midnight and OG Dad says, “Jason is a great writer who’s clearly done the life-destroying research that I can relate to. This is the voice of a new generation of drug addicts.”
Bob Levy, Executive Producer of Vampire Diaries and Gossip Girl says, “Jason Smith hits the Zeitgeist bullseye like few other writers. I’m going to devour everything with this guy’s name on it.”
JASON SMITH is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, whose work has been published extensively in both online and print media. Jason Smith is also the Creative Director of TheRealEdition.com, a recently launched website that allows addicts, recovering addicts, and their loved ones to publish their stories of addiction. Jason currently lives in northern California with his wife Megan and two children, Jaden and Isabella.
Jason Smith is available for interviews, contributions, and appearances. To schedule a media event, order books, or request review copies, please contact me at christawojo at gmail.com.
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If you or anyone you know has experienced prescription drug abuse, I urge you to help us get the word out by sharing and reblogging this post.
According to the 2010 National Survey on Drugs Use and Health, an estimated 2.4 million Americans used prescription drugs non-medically for the first time in the past year. This averages about 6,600 initiates per day, of which one-third are 12 to 17 years of age.
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