The Weight of Air

A Story of the Lies about Addiction and the Truth about Recovery

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Pub Date 06 Jul 2021 | Archive Date 28 Jul 2021

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While his wife and two-year-old daughter watched TV in the living room, David Poses was in the kitchen, measuring the distance from his index finger to his armpit. He needed to be sure he could pull the trigger with a shotgun barrel in his mouth. Twenty-six inches. Thirty-two years old. More than a decade in a double life fueled by depression and heroin.

In his groundbreaking memoir, The Weight of Air, David chronicles his struggle to overcome mental illness and addiction. By age nineteen, he'd been through medical detox, inpatient rehab, twelve-step programs, and a halfway house. He saw his drug use as a symptom of depression, but the experts insisted that addiction was the problem. Over the next thirteen years, he went from one relapse to the next, drowning in guilt, shame, and secrets, until he finally found an evidence-based treatment that not only saved his life, but helped him thrive.

With grit, humor, and brutal honesty, David's story exposes the danger in traditional recovery models: they actually increase stigma and the risk of overdose, relapse, and death. As depression and addiction rates skyrocket and overdose fatalities surge, The Weight of Air is a scathing indictment of our failed response to the opioid crisis--and proof that success is possible.

While his wife and two-year-old daughter watched TV in the living room, David Poses was in the kitchen, measuring the distance from his index finger to his armpit. He needed to be sure he could pull...

Advance Praise

"Soulful, achingly honest . . . A potent addition to the literature on drug addiction and recovery."--Kirkus Reviews (starred)

"David Poses's unflinching memoir takes you to the dark corners of addiction--and shows there's a way out."--Eric Eyre, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of Death in Mud Lick

"A searingly honest addiction memoir with a much-needed perspective."--Maia Szalavitz, New York Times best-selling author of Unbroken Brain"

"Soulful, achingly honest . . . A potent addition to the literature on drug addiction and recovery."--Kirkus Reviews (starred)

"David Poses's unflinching memoir takes you to the dark corners of...

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ISBN 9781954861923
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Featured Reviews

“The Weight of Air” by David Poses chronicles his years battling the drugs that helped him cope with lifelong depression. This isn’t the type of book I normally read but I’m glad I took a chance on it because it is a visceral yet highly readable account of surviving addiction. In this painful, haunting yet hopeful memoir, the author takes us on a roller-coaster ride of emotion. There are bouts of heroin and opiate abuse mixed in with periods of sobriety, which will give readers hope for David’s recovery; sadly, these respites don’t last, but we stick with him. Poses doesn’t flinch in this description of what it’s like to be an addict. Arriving in a rehab clinic for the first time, he clashes with the staff who insist that drug addiction is a “disease” and that the only way to heal is to “put himself in God’s hands.” This diagnosis and treatment is a matter of personal opinion, of course, but it wouldn’t have worked for me. They also confiscate his Discman (remember them?) and CD’s because music is “a trigger” for drug use. Forever searching for a way to quieten his inner turmoil, heroin becomes the only way for him to “feel okay in my own skin”. Cynical of the efficacy of rehab and its methods, he states “I don’t see God or AA changing that or helping me accept or forget it.” David is painfully honest with a dry sense of humour, as he bravely portrays his struggle to find a lasting inner peace. Paradoxically, he doesn’t like to drink alcohol as he hates its effects on his body, a fact which would no doubt baffle outsiders. Reading this book, I often felt that David shouldn’t actually be in rehab in the first place, and that he was only there because it was an unavoidable consequence of his search for a settled brain. Of course, he is seen as an addict by others from the beginning. Poses vividly describes the excruciating pain of his periods of withdrawal, mostly spent “drenched in sweat and freezing cold, sitting on the toilet with my head in a plastic trash bin”. Eventually he achieves a kind of redemption and the book ends with a concise, well-informed chapter on fundamental recovery, which “heals the wounds that led you to use drugs in the first place,” Poses also details the fallout of addiction such as shame, poverty, and the lack of knowledge about drug abuse. Readers will be on David’s side throughout this story because he comes across as an immensely likeable and honest person. He is the “hero” of this book. I hesitate to use the phrase “page-turner” to describe “The Weight of Air”, but it truly is; Poses’ writing grabs you from the start and takes you along for the ride, a ride you will be glad you took.

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The opioid epidemic that began to exercise its fierce grip in American culture began in the 1990’s and is showing no signs of slowing or easing up: “the weight of air: a story of the lies about addiction and the truth about recovery” (2021) is candid and courageously written memoir by David Poses. His battle with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) began in 1995, recovery is a process that lasts a lifetime, there is no cure. When David was admitted to one of the top renowned rehab programs in the United States, he had been hospitalized for his addiction to Heroin. His father, who he barely had a relationship with, intervened in his care, it was evident he should have kept his distance. Poses explained to his counselors in rehab the level of “pain” (depression) had led to and resulted in his addiction. Poses quickly realized that the popular 12 Step Program used by the majority of American rehab programs at the time, would not really work for him. Poses illustrated the negative side of the rehab and insurance industry, and the failure of assuming the one size fits all 12 Step Programs. Two decades would pass of relapse, lost relationships and the inability to relate honestly to those who loved and cared about him most. The lies and deceit, rare well-paying jobs lost--where he could have used his talents and gifts to excel. Poses takes readers on his difficult and harrowing journey towards living his life without using drugs. The silence, stigma, and shame of addiction eased when he began to honestly share his truth with others. This is an important book. Poses writing has been featured in several notable publications, including the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and the NY Daily News. He lives in Hudson Valley, N.Y. with his wife and two children. **With thanks to BooksGoSocial via NetGalley for the DDC for the purpose of review.

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Very well-written and engrossing from the first chapter, this memoir of addiction and depression challenges the 12-Step model as the antidote to drug addiction. We read of David's history becoming addicted to heroin, rehabs, relapses in detail. He eventually, after a decade of lying about his sobriety to family and friends, finds Suboxone to help and eventually levels off into a non-chaotic existence. I note that he had to be ready to accept the Suboxone treatment, otherwise he might have abandoned that therapy as well. It is another example of how the 12-Step programs are not the only programs to help with addiction.

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The Weight of Air is a real and honest account of what life is like with addiction and I believe that this book is important because it will help people who don't struggle with addiction gain perspective and understand. This book also brings awareness to the stigma around addiction. This book is really relatable and as a book is extremely important because of the raw honesty of his experience. The Weight of Air is extremely well-written and it really pulls at your heartstrings. It's a definite must-read!

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One of the most honest and raw stories of addiction and recovery I've read. I'm so grateful to the author for sharing his journey with the world. "Opioid addiction had become a national health emergency, and our response was driven by stereotypes, misinformation, and a pervasive disregard of science and evidence-in policy, treatment, and prevention." This is one more step in squashing the stigma behind addiction and looking more deeply into the lives of those who suffer. To the author, I say, thank you for your courage and bravery in sharing your story with us. Reviews have been posted to Amazon and Goodreads. Review will be posted on Instagram this week.

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I could not put this book down. It is a raw honest story about dealing with addiction. I felt like I was right there beside him dealing with what he was going through. I feel like I've made a friend. “Recovery is hard. Regret is harder.” – Brittany Burgunder - The quote below really sums up the book. Worth 5 stars...

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Very interesting read. I have dealt with family and friends who were addicted and this was a good read for anyone trying to understand.

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Thank you for advanced copy, I thought I had left a review but I was mistaken. An incredibly honest and raw book, I deal with addiction daily in my working life and its an incredibly sensitive area. Well put together, I liked the style of writing, highly recommend

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The author is to be congratulated for this brave, honest and unfiltered account of a life lived under the cloud of addiction. No self pity here, nor excuses - this book presents a stark and often brutal perspective of what it is like to like with addiction. It’s very well written with enough information provided to give the reader a strong sense of engagement with the protagonist.

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