Book Review, Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

Book Review of: Addiction on Trial

Addiction on Trial: Tragedy in Downeast Maine, a book with interwoven genres of crime, murder-mystery, courtroom drama, dysfunctional family dynamics, Emergency Medical drama, and addiction.

Other reviews of this book discuss the legal aspect, the medical murder, thriller angle that offers suspense and describe it as a “page turner.” While this is all true, the book also offers a rare insight into addiction itself and the daily struggles addicts face. The story is educational, without being too technical.

The main characters are Annette Fiorno, her boyfriend- Travis Bomer, and his childhood friend, Jimmy Sedgwick. All are drug addicts-two have not fully acknowledged or entered any kind of treatment, though discuss cutting back and keeping an eye on each other’s drug usage and one has acknowledged the addiction and been in and out of treatment. The drugs involved are heroin, cocaine, oxycontin pills, which are typically prescribed for pain, and alcohol.

The book opens with a description of a physicians ‘typical’ day working in the ER (Jimmy’s father) to the delicate act of balancing professional work and family as Jimmy is arrested for possession of drugs. If this short opening chapter does not draw you in, chapter 3 will as it focuses on the finding of Annette’s decomposing body.

Are you intrigued yet?

As a helping professional, trained as a social worker, the complex issues surrounding addiction interest me. The story provides a good background of addiction, the issues the characters face, the denial, the lies, the stress of hiding their usage, the risks involved in buying the drugs, carrying the drugs, and the chronic lifelong disease itself. Addiction is a psychological, biological, and social disease that does not discriminate by ethnicity, culture, socioeconomics, geography or gender. The educational element in the book describes addiction as a disease much like diabetes or cancer.  Both can have periods of remission, relapse and as of now, no cure.

Any of us can mentally go through our list of family, friends, colleagues, neighbors and at least one, if not more, have a chronic disease. Health diseases may come to mind first, but addiction is there as well whether street drugs, prescription drugs, alcohol, smoking, gambling, and the list goes on.

There is a huge effect on family, friends, and colleagues re: covering-up and denial and while this is normal-the issue becomes about more than the individual using or engaging in the risk taking and/or addictive behavior.

If this is not the aspect of the book that will interest you the most, the ‘dysfunctional’ family issues, the legal angle of small town Maine lawyer vs. big city Boston lawyer, the courtroom drama and criminal investigation angle will draw you in.

It is an excellent book and definitely worth reading! I await the next in the series……

By Victoria Brewster, MSW

*One can purchase the Ebook version for $3.99 at: AuthorHouse, Amazon, Barnes & Noble or  iTunes . Softcover and hardcover versions are available as well.

By Victoria Brewster, MSW