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Review: `Strung Out' is a window into world of addiction


“Strung Out: One Last Hit and Other Lies That Nearly Killed Me: A Memoir,” Park Row, by Erin Khar

A 13-year-old girl in Los Angeles started using opioids she steals from a family member’s medicine cabinet.

Then she was bold enough to try heroin. Heroin changed her world.

This is the premise of Erin Khar’s new memoir, “Strung Out: One Last Hit and Other Lies That Nearly Killed Me.”

As a child, Khar gets hooked and hits rock bottom. She struggles with an addiction that waxes and wanes over a 15-year period - while she’s a student in college, working and navigating relationships.

There are plenty of addiction memoirs on the market, but Khar’s book tells the story of a privileged girl growing up with a circle of friends and taking horseback riding lessons. Though her parents are divorced and slightly aloof, from the outside she seems to have it all. The book is Khar’s reflection on how we, as a society, have preconceived notions of addiction that are fallible.

“The stigma associated with opioids, with heroin, with ‘being a junkie,’ prevents people from reaching out,” she writes. “Americans are stuck in a spiral of shame, and that shame drives the vicious cycle of relapse that many drug users get caught in.”

The author writes eloquently about heavy ideas. When Khar describes her own cycles of relapses and getting clean is particularly insightful and fascinating.

“Strung Out” is a window into the world of addiction - a world that makes headlines daily. The reader will likely come away with a clear understanding and empathy for the power that drugs like opioids and heroin have over their victims.

Tracee M. Herbaugh, The Associated Press