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In the vein of Mary Karr’s Lit, Augusten Burroughs’ Dry and Sarah Hepola’s Blackout, As Needed for Pain is a raw and riveting—and often wryly funny—addiction memoir from one of New York media’s most accomplished editors which explores his never-before-told story of opioid addiction and the drastic impact it had on his life and career.
Dan Peres wasn’t born to be a media insider. As an awkward, magic-obsessed adolescent, nothing was further from his reality than the catwalks of Paris or the hallways of glossy magazine publishers. A gifted writer and shrewd cultural observer, Peres eventually took the leap—even when it meant he had to fake a sense of belonging in a new world of famed fashion designers, celebrities, and some of media’s biggest names. But he had a secret: opiates.
Peres’s career as an editor at W magazine and Details is well known, but little is known about his private life as a high-functioning drug addict. In As Needed for Pain, Peres lays bare for the first time the extent of his drug use—at one point a 60-pill-a-day habit.
By turns humorous and gripping, Peres’s story is a cautionary coming-of-age tale filled with unforgettable characters and breathtaking brushes with disaster. But the heart of the book is his journey from outsider to insecure insider, what it took to get him there, and how he found his way back from a killing addiction.
As Needed for Pain offers a rare glimpse into New York media’s past—a time when print magazines mattered—and a rarefied world of wealth, power, and influence. It is also a brilliant, shocking dissection of a life teetering on the edge of destruction, and what it took to pull back from the brink.
In this frank confessional, former Details editor-in-chief Peres recalls his opioid addiction. Starting with a debasing story of crawling on his hands and knees in search of lost pills on a urine-soaked men's room floor, Peres flashes back to his awkward 1980s adolescence in upper-middle-class Pikesville, Md., where he indulged his obsessions with magic and magician David Copperfield (who later became a close friend). In the 1990s, the "decidedly unchic" NYU graduate was hired as a reporter for Women's Wear Daily; around this time, Peres injured his back and first felt "the warm tingling sensation" of Vicodin. He cultivated his addiction quietly for several years; but when Cond Nast tapped the perennially insecure, 28-year-old Peres to lead Details in 2000, the pressure eventually drove him to take more than three dozen pills daily ("as uncontrollable as my drug use had become, there was a fair amount of control involved. I knew exactly how many pills I needed to get buzzed"). Peres hit bottom in 2007, when Sarah, his pregnant wife, threw him out. Peres is a self-effacing writer and becomes even more so when he tells how, with the support of Copperfield, he gets clean through an outpatient rehab program. By the time his son Oscar was born in 2008, Peres had been sober for 92 days. At times both harrowing and charming, Peres's story bracingly captures the struggles of addiction.