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  • On Pills and Needles

  • The Relentless Fight to Save My Son from Opioid Addiction
  • By: Rick Van Warner
  • Narrated by: Traber Burns
  • Length: 7 hrs and 14 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (80 ratings)

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On Pills and Needles cover art

On Pills and Needles

By: Rick Van Warner
Narrated by: Traber Burns
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Summary

When Rick Van Warner found himself searching abandoned buildings and dangerous streets looking for his missing son, he had no idea that the synthetic, pill-form heroin that had snared his teen was already killing so many. In the years of pain and heartache that followed, as he tried to save his son from opioid addiction, Van Warner discovered what the American public is just now becoming aware of: Opioids prescribed for even minor pain relief are so addictive that even a few days of use can create dependency. On Pills and Needles is a memoir that also serves as a wake-up call and crash course in opioid addiction. Through his harrowing personal story, Van Warner exposes the common causes of opioid addiction, effective and ineffective ways it has been treated, and how families can walk alongside loved ones who are dealing with the daily realities of addiction.

©2018 Rick Van Warner (P)2018 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about On Pills and Needles

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Understanding

This story helped gain an insight into addiction and how it affects the family and the person suffering. I’m really grateful for the happy ending

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  • Em
  • 16-09-22

Harrowing but inspiring

This is a story that hits hard, it’s both familiar yet different.
Show each other kindness abandon judgment and celebrate each moment of the journey. I have learned as a mother of an addict that it’s only living through utter despair that we can experience deep joy.
Thank you for sharing your story with the world. Xxxx

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Wonderful

So much respect for Rick Van Warner & his amazing parenting. What a man & role model. This is a wonderful, inspiring & emotional read (listen) that makes we want to be the best Dad I can be

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Brilliant

If I wasn't at work I'd be sobbing, this was fantastic, I didn't expect a happy ending. There were times when I was like, how many times are they going to help Tommy, wow what amazing parents x

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Fantastic heartwarming story

I really enjoyed this book. At first I was not a fan of the narration but I got over that as the story compelled me to keep listening.
it really hit home to me how powerful love and acceptance is.

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Heart wrenching yet uplifting story

Initially I wasn’t keen on this audiobook. The narrators voice grated on me and felt too harsh whilst the story itself seemed to be about unsympathetic parents who didn’t understand the language that had driven the child to become an addict. I almost quit the book but having now finished it I am glad that I didn’t.

It occurred to me that they narrators voice is possibly quite similar to the authors, and therefore a good choice. Also, the book is very much about the learnings of the author and his transition from someone who really didn’t understand to someone who becomes self aware and realises he can only change himself in order to influence his son and his son’s. addiction.

Whilst the story is also about the experiences of a family coping with the tragedy and challenges of addiction, it also looks into the history and politics of prescription drugs and poses questions as to why pharmaceutical companies are allowed to almost create this drug dependence.

The end is completely uplifting and I do hope this family continue to live so joyously. Thank you Rick for so graciously sharing the story of your family.

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Good

The power of love & all of upset & worry the parents went through . Really enjoyed it 👍🏻

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  • Anonymous User
  • 14-11-20

Narrators Make a HUGE Difference

I’m not sure how narrators are chosen but I have to say that in my opinion it is the main factor in determining whether or not I listen to the book or not or IF I can listen to it. I’m new at this and have at least half of my selections ‘started’ and know there is no way I can listen to the narrator for 7 or more hours. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Melissa Maloney
  • 09-05-20

Incredible Story

I’m a father of a 21 yr old son who’s story is almost identical to Tommy. The emotional trauma you and your family have gone through is both heartbreaking and inspirational. I pray for Tommy’s continued sobriety.

Paul

4 people found this helpful

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  • Denver reader
  • 19-05-19

Should be mandatory reading for parents and families

Tough topic and a story that no one wants to know firsthand. I so deeply appreciate Rick Van Warner for writing this. Thus story goes beyond that of an addict to one of a father’s own self discovery. Rick didn’t cause his son’s addiction but that he was willing to look at his own contributions to the situation and reflect on his past, his words, and his actions and present them with honestly and humility are what truly make this book unique and important. This is more than the journey of an addict; it’s the journey of a family caught in a global drug crisis.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Diane
  • 26-05-21

Okay book, okay performance

If you’re looking for a window into one family’s experience with addiction, this is worth a read. If you’re looking for new insights or help for what you are experiencing, please look beyond this book. While the story is heartfelt, there were some really damaging/stigmatizing messages about things like medication-assisted therapy (like people are “addicted” to MAT and it’s just as bad as an addiction to heroin or oxy), psychiatric medications (someone who is “addicted to pills” shouldn’t be given psych meds), and recovery programs (some of which actually do help and aren’t money-generating enterprises). The refrain that was repeated was that their addicted son just needed more love and attention from his family I order to get better, which is kind of insulting to families who have done nothing but loved and attended to their addicted family members and STILL lost them to addiction.

The performance was just okay. The voice the narrator uses to voice other people (particularly the author’s wife) borders on snide or snarky and was enough to distract me from what was being said.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 25-10-21

Narration problems and repetitive content

I wish I could give higher marks to this book; however there were so many problems. First, the narrator was stiff and impersonal. He sounded like a news reporter from the 1970’s. Second, the author needed a better editor. He repeats the same information and statistics over and over throughout the book. Third, the idea that unconditional love is the treatment for opioid addiction is laughable. While I believe that unconditional love and accepting an addict faults and all is helpful, research is showing that medically assisted treatment for opioids and the harm-reduction model can be more effective than abstinence only programs and spiritually based programs. My concern is that by writing off psychiatric medication for legitimately diagnosed conditions, the author could encourage families of addicts with dual-diagnoses from getting their loved one treatment for depression, anxiety, etc. if someone is actively suicidal like Tommy was at times in this book, they should be seen by a psychiatrist at the hospital not just taken to detox. While I appreciate the father’s love for his son, the solutions he provides are not going to work for most people with substance use disorders and/or psychiatric conditions.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jeffrey Olsen
  • 19-03-18

What is more dramatic the codependency and enabling of the father or the son’s addiction?

It’s difficult to decide who is worse the father who thinks he can make his son’s decisions for him or the son who disregards his father’s efforts. Maybe the son is begging to live his own life and bare the full consequences of his own choices and actions. These two are certainly not done yet. This story, of two people trying to figure out their own problems is just beginning. I feel compassion for both of them.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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DEBORAH
  • Amazon Customers DEBORAH
  • 28-01-18

I lived this life

This was a book of heart and heartache. Your devotion to your son was truly amazing. My exhusband was a heartache only someone like this father could understand. I lived the chasing into places i should of never been. and the horrid feeling of is tonight going to be the night of a ending phone call. And after 20 years of trying and hope mine did not come to be.

1 person found this helpful

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  • eckle75
  • 18-12-22

OK Story - Narration not so much

I thought the story itself was ok. An angry Dad blaming everyone possible for his son's addiction and feeling that unconditional love was the literal cure.
This narrator was not a good fit for this story. Hard to listen to - too much anger and edge and just not good. I've listened to hundreds of titles so far and this was my least favorite narrator of all time.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Cindi C.
  • 18-11-22

Worthwhile story of a parent's anguish

i've listened to many addiction stories over the past few years.The story is from the heart but it is as if parts of it were cut out. It is, however; eye opening and worthwhile. The reader was hard to listen to. His style is reminiscent of Ted Knight from the old Mart Tyler Moore show.

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  • Linda
  • 01-11-22

Blah Blah

This is how I felt listening to this book. like I was I. a statistics class. Too many statistics and not enough on the person. Glad it was free