Surviving Alex: A Mother’s Story of Love, Loss, and Addiction (Hardcover)

Surviving Alex: A Mother’s Story of Love, Loss, and Addiction By Patricia A. Roos Cover Image
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In 2015, Patricia Roos’s twenty-five-year-old son Alex died of a heroin overdose. Turning her grief into action, Roos, a professor of sociology at Rutgers University, began to research the social factors and institutional failures that contributed to his death. Surviving Alex tells her moving story—and outlines the possibilities of a more compassionate and effective approach to addiction treatment.  

Weaving together a personal narrative and a sociological perspective, Surviving Alex movingly describes how even children from “good families” fall prey to addiction, and recounts the hellish toll it takes on families. Drawing from interviews with Alex’s friends, family members, therapists, teachers, and police officers—as well as files from his stays in hospitals, rehab facilities, and jails—Roos paints a compelling portrait of a young man whose life veered between happiness, anxiety, success, and despair. And as she explores how a punitive system failed her son, she calls for a community of action that would improve care for substance users and reduce addiction, realigning public health policy to address the overdose crisis.


About the Author

PATRICIA ROOS is a Professor Emerita of Sociology at Rutgers University. Among her many publications are the books Job Queues, Gender Queues: Explaining Women’s Inroads into Male Occupations (coauthored with Barbara Reskin) and Gender and Work: A Comparative Analysis of Industrial Societies. After her son’s death, she realigned her research and advocacy interests to explore mental health and substance use disorders, turning her grief into activism.

Praise For…

“Patricia Roos’s harrowing story of her beloved son’s struggles with mental health and addiction—intertwined with her courageous but doomed fight to save his life—dishes out near relentless heartache. But she persists, revealing the systems that failed her family and inspiring us to join her fight for desperately needed reform.” 
— Jessie Dunleavy

“An intensely personal and painfully honest story of the loss of a son, the cruelties of American drug and healthcare policies, and the hope that harm reduction can bring. Both a memorial and a sociological analysis, Surviving Alex shows us that addiction is indeed something to fear, but not for the reasons many of us assume.”
— David Herzberg

Surviving Alex is a beautiful read – engaging, honest, thought-provoking, and relatable. This gripping personal story is contextualized with a thoughtful and clear-eyed characterization of the ravages of mental illness, addiction, and the drug pushers, and also offers a novel exploration of the therapeutic industry and criminal justice system.”
— Deborah Carr
Product Details
ISBN: 9781978837027
ISBN-10: 197883702X
Publisher: Rutgers University Press
Publication Date: May 17th, 2024
Pages: 402
Language: English