Finding Tess: A Mother’s Search for Answers in a Dopesick America by Beth Macy is a well-written tale that is as horrible, heartbreaking, and mesmerizing as a train wreck, but it’s something I think we all should listen to.
Beth Macy, author of Dopesick in America, and Pat Mehrmann, Tess Henry’s mom, investigate what led up to Tess’s death on Christmas Eve 2017, when her body was found in a Las Vegas dumpster.
This audio-documentary features clips where Tess talks about her life as a mom, her love for her family and her struggle to beat her addiction.
In and out of medication-assisted treatment programs, Tess needed daily doses of buprenorphine to keep withdrawal symptoms at bay. She needed Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and perhaps constant support. Instead, she often felt judged, and pushed to get off the maintenance drugs, and to simply get her act together.
She tried as she too, realized that her addiction was killing her, yet she couldn’t stop.
Beth talked with Tess and her family members around the kitchen table, and when she drove Tess to meetings. She shares these conversations with those listening to Finding Tess.
In addition, she educates listeners about America’s opioid crisis. In fact, you could say she puts a face on it as she tells us about Tess, a former high school point guard, who loved poetry, and tell-it-like-it-is prose, who became an addict and a young mother, who wanted desperately to stay clean for her son, and who eventually ended up losing her struggle.
As listeners, we journey with Pat and Beth as they travel to Las Vegas, to retrace the final weeks and days that lead up to Tess’s murder.
My favorite part of this retelling is that Beth, Pat, and Tess candidly reveal what they know of Tess’s battle with addiction and allow readers room to draw their own conclusions.
This is not an easy tale, but it’s worth a reader’s time. If you want to learn about the opioid crisis and to witness the up close/personal effect it had on one family, I recommend you listen to Tess’s story.