An interview with Sarah Dickinson, author of Silver Spoons ; One’s Journey Through Addiction. The book takes an intimate and raw look at the current face of addiction and recovery. Talking about the current opioid epidemic, we follow a young couple while one of them goes through the recovery process. Told through letters, we get an understanding of their relationship as it struggles through his addiction and resulting recovery. From detox, rehab, sober living and the 12 steps of A.A, you get a raw and honest look at the effects of addiction and how they affect relationships.
Why did you decide to write this book?
The main reason I decided to write this was because when I was in the middle of experiencing life with an addict who entered rehab, I had no clue how to be supportive and not lose myself. Every story I found about addiction ended when the addict entered rehab. There were so many of these stories that exploited the bad behavior of an addict but not much more than that. With the opioid epidemic growing at such a rate you’re hard pressed to find someone not affected by addiction. Struggling with it or watching someone they love struggling.
Is the story drawn from life?
While there were so many cathartic moments writing this book and the feedback has brought me such happiness it was painful. It was painful enough to go through some of these experiences and writing this story forced me to re-live some of my worst moments. I was unprepared to feel the level of pain that I did when other addicts shared their own painful experiences with me.
Was it ever painful?
Every aspect of the book was drawn from life, but not solely mine. There are many situations and conversations that are direct from my own personal life, but they have been fictionalized in one way or another. There are also a handful of situations and experiences that have come from other addicts, or the people who love them. People who shared their stories when I was researching addiction. Every character in the book is inspired by someone that I personally know as well.
Why take an epistolary approach?
I decided to use an epistolary approach for freedom and emotion. I felt it was the most effective way to create empathy and understanding for addicts. So often people struggling with addiction are stigmatized to the level of being dehumanized. They are viewed as their addiction and not the people they are fully. I felt that using letters put their humanity in the face of the readers. It also allowed a level of freedom in my writing, to introduce information without sounding like a textbook, to use some of my personal language. Mainly words and phrases that are not proper grammar, but that I use.
If the story is drawn from your own life, was writing cathartic and therapeutic?
Writing this book was extremely cathartic, and many times sitting down to write felt like entering a therapy session. It helped me do more than just purge my feelings and events. I was able to reflect on so many aspects of my life. Not just addiction. My father suffered from dementia, as well as the MC’S mother did. So, there were many personal issues I was able to look at as well. In all honesty I probably was only able to heal and grow from these experiences as quickly as I did because I wrote this book.
How did you do your research?
I did my research by reading everything I could find about addiction and recovery. I read the Big Book of A.A. and quite a few scholarly articles as well. Articles from a scientific as well as psychology standpoint. I also went to A.A. and ALANON meetings. I was given a sponsor, talked to many addicts at these meetings, and worked the 1 step. When I say I went to A.A., I would like to add that there was full transparency. Every person at those meetings knew why I was there, and I was not an addict myself. There were many closed meetings that I was not allowed to go to because of this, and I was extremely grateful how willing people were to help me understand who they were.