Breaking the Chains on Opioid Addiction
Mother and son Nancy and JP Vericker of Scarsdale share their family’s struggle with opioid addiction in Unchained.
Photo by Joe Vericker
What was your intention in writing this book?
Nancy: We had been given such a great gift, in that our son and our family recovered. There are so many families who are struggling. Parents are afraid of [giving] tough love, which we finally gave. I felt I was obligated to pay my gift forward.
JP: People see others ruining their lives for drugs, or doing crazy things, and you can’t, as a normal person, wrap your head around it. The book shows how I was pulled by this demonic addiction plaguing me and how my brain operated when I was on drugs. I wanted to give a window into the thought process to help people [understand those suffering from addiction].
What is your advice for those struggling with this family tragedy?
Nancy: When parents are in the middle of a substance-abuse crisis with one of their kids, the most important thing to do, because it affects the whole family, is to seek professional help and not be afraid to do what may seem very hard — give tough love. It’s just a different way of loving your child. Don’t enable. Not giving up doesn’t mean enabling — it means you keep trying to find answers and launch that person into a place where they will seek recovery. There is always hope for recovery.
JP: Reach out and get help, or at least start the dialogue with those you’re close with. Putnam County’s Susan Salomone, executive director of Drug Crisis in Our Backyard, is awesome.
JP, tell us about being the cofounder of Northeast Addictions Treatment Center (NATC) in Quincy, MA.
JP: My vision has always been to open my own treatment center. At NATC, it’s incredibly different and almost the polar opposite from industry standard. We facilitate and offer a full continuum of care, handpick every single staff member, and the culture is strong. We genuinely help those afflicted with substance-abuse disorder and their families get well.