Through a series of letters written to his son who died from a drug overdose, the author explores on various levels the experience of parenting and ultimately, losing to death, a son who drifted into heavy and long term substance abuse. The letters are personal, open, honest, informative, intimate, at some points heartbreaking, and at other points humorous. Along with providing reflection on the impacts of death by overdose, the book shows how such letter writing can be a valuable medium for processing grief and moving toward healing.
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Reviewed by Robert A. Groves for Readers' Favorite Overdose by Jack Dison is a collection of letters, written with love, to his deceased son, James. The letters begin with that stage of a child’s life which most parents remember with fondness - the infant, toddler, and early school age years. Then Mr. Dison moves on, with complete transparency, to paint a vivid picture of what it is like to parent an adolescent with a substance abuse problem. He recalls his successes as well as failures in attempts to help James climb out of one of life’s dark places. The letters of Overdose then cover James’s young adult life which, unlike his adolescence, contain glimmers of hope. Jack concludes the letters recalling the strength he gathered from his faith in dealing with the loss of his first-born child and only son. While Jack’s and James’s story is written in narrative format, as letters usually are, I could hear the actual conversations occurring as I read. I cannot imagine the personal courage it took Jack Dison to pen Overdose. This book could not come to the market at a better time in our nation’s history than the present when we are experiencing such an epidemic in opioid abuse. His story of love and struggle is one every parent, clergy, and substance abuse counselor must read. There is going to be a multitude of people on the globe who will read this and realize Mr. Dison is providing them with the tools of compassion needed to navigate their own path through a loved one’s substance abuse issues. And for those who have lost a loved one to substance abuse, follow Jack’s example in forging a way through a healthy grieving process. If Jack Dison’s letters do not bring you to tears and a need to hug your child/children more often and tighter, then you need an X-ray to see if you have a heart. There is no parent to whom I would not hesitate to recommend this book.