Zach Siegel is one of our most respected and prolific journalists on addiction and drug policy. He is also a thoughtful, introspective soul who thinks deeply about his own history of opioid addiction. In his many writings, he has often referenced that personal history, but he's never really had the chance to tell his own addiction story from start to finish. Until now! Listen to this episode of Flourishing After Addiction to hear Zach's origin story, plus a deep dive into his recent cover story in Harper's magazine about surgery for opioid addiction.
Zach and I talked about some enlightening moments along his path, including the role of Suboxone in his treatment, anti-medication stigma, as well some big questions about identity: what does it mean to say you're in recovery, and how does Zach make sense of that idea in his own life?
We also focus in on his recent, fascinating Harper’s story: a feature about deep brain stimulation surgery for addiction. In the piece, he describes how people with serious, intractable addictions receive this (technically) non-invasive surgery--a kind of neuroscience advance I myself researched as part of a fellowship in medical school. It's a terrific story in its own right, but it also invokes some big themes, such as the purposes of addiction treatment, or how human factors like relationships, care, and hope continue to be relevant even in what seems like the most reductionist biomedical treatment settings.
Zachary A. Siegel is a freelance journalist and researcher living in Chicago. His work focuses on public health, mental health, and the criminal-legal system; he also reviews books, movies, and TV shows, on occasion; and he co-writes Substance, a newsletter about drugs and crime, with journalist Tana Ganeva. He’s reported for a variety of news outlets and magazines: Harper’s, New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, and more. He holds a journalism position at The Action Lab of Northeastern University’s Law School, working on projects like Changing The Narrative. He also co-hosts a podcast called Narcotica with his friends and fellow drug journalists Troy Farah and Chris Moraff. Find him on his website and on Twitter.
In this episode:
- Substance - his substack newsletter
- his podcast Narcotica
- Changing the Narrative (project of Health action lab at Northwestern)
- Only Lovers Left Alive
- A Hole in the Head
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