A heart-wrenching yet undeniably real story about deep love, and the pain experienced when addiction takes over a loved-one’s life. I spent many years working in a rehab facility and this book truly shows a family perspective in a way I’ve seen countless times yet I have never seen it in print before. Jude and John tell the story of their family, yet there are hundreds of thousands of families just like theirs experiencing the same things. This book places that family experience into a societal perspective while also sharing important information with families that are experiencing the same. Important for all to read. Anonymous – October 2019 – California, USA
Experience talks powerfully in Opiate Nation; I pray it saves someone else the pain. This memoir will bring terrifying clarity to those who are still in a fight-to-the-death with drugs and alcohol. It will also bring closure to families and friends struggling to better understand what’s happened to their loved one. The realization that there was not just one preventable circumstance, incident, or influence that began the addiction nightmare is a balm to wounded souls. Assigning blame is futile, and this book explores things that may actually interrupt the persistent addition, recovery, and relapse cycle. Read this and weep – then pass it along. Robin – November 2019 – Tennessee, USA
A declaration of love to a son who died way too soon, and how the parents struggle to find an explanation for the son’s entrance into, and addiction to, drugs. The writers are both analytical and guided by emotions in describing their long time in trying to bring their son out of the hell of drugs. The book is an important contribution to understanding what many – too many – people undergo in the Opiate World. Johan – December 2019 – Trondheim, Norway
I found this book a heartbreaking but valuable insight into the opiate crisis and the devastation it is having on families. In bravely sharing their thoughts and emotions, I was able to relate to and identify similarities in my own situation that would otherwise have been missed opportunities – so I am personally very grateful for the honesty and openness with which the Trang’s told their story. Thank you! Simone –April 2020 – Queensland, Australia
Opiate Nation is a candid, intensely personal, assessment of the opiate crisis – a tough read. But essential. They take the subject out of the darkness and confusion and illuminate it with startling clarity. Their courage in dealing with their son’s death is both remarkable and heart breaking. Unlike other works dealing with the opiate crisis, Jude and John conclude with hopeful stories written by the addicts themselves. This is a major contribution to understanding this growing crisis. Charles – February 2020 – Arizona, USA
I have known the Trang’s for almost 20 years now, and was with the family for part of the Europe trip in which JL opened up to his sister Johanna about doing Oxycodone. I wasn’t to know this until I read Johanna’s forward to the book. Knowing what a wonderful family the Trang’s are, I found it heartbreaking to read the brutally honest outpouring of feeling in the book – reading has been so emotional that I haven’t made it through the second chapter yet. I know that reading Opiate Nation will be extremely valuable, but reading it will require preparation for the emotional journey involved. Matthew – May 2020 – Sunshine Beach, Australia
Opiate Nation touches deeply into the heart of those who have experienced a loved one with addiction of any type. It has had a huge impact on me. It must have taken enormous courage for the authors, Jude and John Trang, to bare their souls to bring this message of hope following the anguish of the loss of their son to a heroin overdose at age 25. Given that over 500,000 Americans have died from opioid overdose since 1999, this book should be required reading for all parents. Think not only of the loss of those precious lives but also the associated pain of those that loved them. It is beyond heartbreaking. The sensitivity and wisdom provided in this book will give parents the insights they need to be observant of signs of trouble brewing as they raise their children and ways in which to handle the them. The authors have done a magnificent job with an impossible topic. Aldine – February 2020 – Arizona, USA
We all know someone who has passed away because of drugs. Opiate Nation is heartfelt and a must read for those who have loved ones or who are dealing with addictions. Jennifer – December 2019 – Utah, USA
This is surely one of the most impactful books I have ever read. On any subject. I empathized and struggled with each journal entry from Mom or Dad during the first year following JL’s death. Jude and John have surely suffered every horrible, painful emotion as they loved, supported, and tried with everything humanly possible to save their beloved son, JL. With the shock and confusion following his death they tried so hard to understand what happened, what they may have done differently, what they missed. Jude’s hunt for what might have made a difference is very informative for anyone in this battle. It could just point you in the right direction for you or your loved one. In the end…they are human. We don’t always get it right. We only have limited knowledge and understanding.
I recommend this to ANYONE who has struggled to understand the hook of opiates. It is a terrible national epidemic. Dreamland, by Sam Quinones, informed me, and this book expanded my understanding and touched me in a way no other book has. As a parent, grandparent, and citizen in a time and place where this epidemic is simply out of control, it is an important book to read. It makes me hope that more individuals will become informed, so that there is a hope of this tragedy someday ending. K. Huber – November 2019 – Florida, USA
Sunday, March 1, 2020 Arizona Daily Star – Southern Arizona authors
“Opiate Nation: A Memoir of Love, Loss & Acceptance”
by Jude DiMeglio Trang with John M. Trang $29.99.
John Leif, known to family and friends as JL, was smart, charismatic, fiercely loyal — and addicted to opioids. When he died of a heroin overdose at the age of 25, his anguished parents sought some relief by keeping a journal in which they wrote letters to their late son. Holding nothing back, they shared their confusion, their profound despair, and finally their hesitant steps toward acceptance. Their journal provides the framework for Jude DiMeglio Trang’s memoir, a book as timely as it is heartbreaking. Trang begins with the horrifying discovery that JL, at age 15, was using black tar heroin, obtainable in his high school in their affluent section of Tucson. The ensuing years saw her son in and out of rehab in an endless cycle of sobriety and relapse while the family endured a decade of false starts and dashed hopes. Information about opioid addiction was scant (even the high school, aware of the problem, kept parents in the dark), and luck was in short supply — two of JL’s relapses coincided with medical procedures that put him back on prescribed painkillers, and during one stay in a sober residential facility, he secured drugs from the resident manager. Trang bares her soul in this moving book, explaining how she and her husband worked through the stages of grief, but more importantly, she shares what, in trying to make sense of her beloved son’s death, she discovered about opioid addiction. From brain science, genetics and inherited family dysfunction to the international drug trade, the staggering cost of treatment and the complicity of Big Pharma, Trang offers an honest and clear-eyed view of a public health crisis that became a family tragedy.
— Helene Woodhams
A vivid, emotional diary of the shattering effects of drug abuse and a child’s death on a family.
Bereaved parents explore the drug addiction that led to their son’s death and plumb the many layers of grief in this debut
Johnathan Leif Trang was only 16 years old when his parents, Jude DiMeglio Trang and John M. Trang, made the stunning discovery that their bright, charming son was using black tar heroin, known on the street as BT. Ten years later, after many confrontations, discussions, and interventions, JL, as he was known to friends and family, was dead of an overdose only days after his release from his latest rehab program.
Beginning with a foreword by his sister, Johanna Trang Schumacher, and interspersed with letters to JL written by both parents in the months after his death, the book attempts to understand his life and character and the nature of the addiction that led to his fatal overdose. Agonized by their loss and the frustration of their hopes for their beloved son’s future, the authors were determined that JL’s life not be
defined by his drug problem or his lonely death. They found support in embracing their Christian faith and reading views on death by writers likes Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and Joan Didion as they navigated their own family dynamics, “complicated grief,” and efforts to remember, uncover, and honor JL’s deeper self. In the process, they exposed layers of pain, from the loss of their own posterity to a pervasive anger directed at everyone from drug cartel leaders to, as Jude writes, “myself for failing you so, at God for allowing it to happen, at you for being gone.”
The raw immediacy of the narrative will sweep readers into a parent’s worst nightmare, in which sadness is compounded by disbelief that the crisis of drug abuse could step out of the headlines and into the heart of a middle-class family. Although parts of the memoir
delve into the political aspects of addiction, including the “astronomical” cost of treatment and the history of the international drug trade, it is most memorable on a personal level, as in the stories of JL’s friends and fellow struggling users that end the work on a hopeful note.