A Walk Down Misery Street

© Petr Nemirovskiy. All rights reserved.


To Michael



When undertaking this book, I set a simple task before myself: to share with readers the personal experience of a man who decided to try himself in the role of a substance abuse counselor, without having any idea of what addiction really was. I wanted to let the readers know what impressions, feelings, and thoughts my experience evoked as I became closely acquainted with the closed-off and bizarre world of drug addicts in New York.

However, this facially simple task turned out to be extremely difficult. During the time of writing this book, I constantly went off on a tangent. I began to present knowledge that might be interesting and useful only to a limited number of professionals, who are working in the substance abuse field but not to a wide range of different readers. Or, conversely, I strayed into the tone of fiction, and my story gradually turned into a novel with an exciting plot, which possessed artistic merits but did not reflect the documentary angle of the reality being described.

That is why it took me about ten years to write this book! I constantly rewrote chapters and changed the protagonist’s character. During this time, obviously, a lot was changing in our country, in the substance abuse field, and also in my personal life.

But the “stretching” of time for this book has been greatly beneficial. As a result, this work reflects the gradual “growth” of the main character, both spiritually and professionally, from when he began his career as an ordinary addiction counselor to when he became a professor at a well-known university.