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. And, of course, he developed an understanding of drug addiction, this complex phenomenon, poorly studied and insufficiently understood until now.
This book was practically finished when the Covid 19 epidemic suddenly exploded. As I write these lines, the epidemic endures. It is unknown how long it will last, whether we are in the phase of its decline or if this is just the beginning. Due to this epidemic, a lot is changing around us and inside of us. We have not yet gotten used to most of what is happening. For example, in such a short period of time, a few months since the epidemic began, our perception of loss has changed and our tolerance for heartache has increased. Not too long ago, a hundred people dying daily from opioid overdoses nationwide seemed like an extremely high number. After the outbreak, in about 24 hours, more than eight hundred (!) people passed away from the virus, just in New York State. This new reality compels us to somehow adjust our mindset—and quickly.
However, I decided not to include this period of the pandemic in my book, although I have already accumulated a lot of invaluable material. I work in the ER department in a New York hospital, and together with all the other staff—doctors, nurses, social workers, hospital police officers, psych technicians—we daily go through this hell.
Without a doubt, after this pandemic passes, many of us will be re-evaluating our views on life and death, our values, and our relationships with our colleagues. But this experience will still require comprehension. There will certainly be major changes in the public health system and in the substance abuse field. All of this is still ahead.
And lastly, I would like to express my deepest gratitude and appreciation to the teachers of the substance abuse school OTI, the professors of Fordham University, the colleagues with whom I have worked in various clinics and hospitals of New York, as well as all my patients. Without YOU this book would not have seen the light of day.