Addiction in Literature: Smashed

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Over the next month or so, the Florida Springs Wellness and Recovery Blog will be taking an in-depth look at a series of representations of addiction in literature. Representations of addiction in media have been an incredibly important force in shaping the ways that the public responds to addiction and alcoholism, both publicly and privately. Some of these books I have read before, such as Beautiful Boy and Tweak. Some of these books I will be checking out for the first time for this blog. In either case, we will discover the ways that contemporary and historic fiction and non-fiction have portrayed substance use disorder.

Some of these books, including those mentioned above by David and Nic Sheff, will be about addiction in particular. Other examples we will cover will include portrayals of addiction without focusing on those aspects. All will give us an opportunity to discuss the role that books and literature play in our society with respect to substance abuse disorders and treatment of those disorders. If you or a loved one needs treatment or more information on the best drug and alcohol rehab in Florida, contact us today. Florida Springs in Panama City is the best drug and alcohol rehab in the region, at the most affordable prices, whether a patient has insurance or is self-paying. Our expert staff will help you and your family come to the best possible decision regarding your care for addiction or alcoholism related problems.

“Smashed” and “Hijacked Brains”

“Smashed” and “Hijacked Brains” are two very different pieces of writing with some very important connections. “Smashed” by Koren Zailckas, is a memoir about a young girl/woman who becomes and then lives, for a time, as an alcoholic and binge drinker. Smashed was especially important when it was released in 2005. The mostly male scientific establishment was working to try to explain the 3x increase in binge drinking by young females around the early 2000s. Koren Zailckas had the experience of being one of those young female binge-drinkers, and her award-winning memoir shines more light on the subject than any scientific paper could ever hope. This quote is from the first chapter of Smashed, and describes Koren’s first experience with alcohol,

“It smells sweet and spicy, and I drink deeply before I realize what a terrible first drink it is. On my tongue, the flavor is completely foreign, a revolting combination of black licorice and antiseptic. I swallow it like a carnival freak swallows fire and can feel its red glow in my throat.”

According to “Hijacked Brains” by Henrietta Robin Barnes, “Smashed” was an important literary depiction of the process of “Learning to Use”, or the first stages of alcoholism and addiction. Dr. Barnes describes how binge-drinking alcoholics quickly begin to anticipate highly-positive physical and social effects from drinking at an early age. Importantly for the process of becoming a binge drinker, they begin to see one or two drinks as good, but three or more drinks as better. “Hijacked Brains” posits that most non-addicts can find a balance and moderation, even when they have a drug of choice which they find enjoyment in. Koren however, and others like her, try to deal with a “desperate unhappiness” and seek drugs out for the perceived positive effects in dealing with that unhappiness. When alcohol and drugs are seen as a tool to help fix depression, that is often a recipe for problems with substance abuse, especially alcoholism, as alcohol is itself a depressive drug that will eventually add to those feelings of inadequacy and unhappiness in one’s own skin. Koren describes in “Smashed” how she eventually stopped drinking for good. She was only 23 when she wrote the book in 2005, so it is incredibly impressive not just that she wrote an award-winning memoir, but also that she recognized and dealt with her alcoholism so early in life.

We treat young people at Florida Springs in Panama City quite often. It is never too early to admit that you have a serious problem and seek help from experts at the best drug and alcohol rehab in the country. Tomorrow we will look at some historic accounts of literary addiction, including a discussion of Wilkie Collins and Edgar Allen Poe, the two first-ever authors of detective novels, and both men who suffered from addiction to Opium and Alcohol, along with crippling depression and anxiety in the case of Poe. Again, call our phone number today to speak to a professional about treatment at the best drug and alcohol rehab in Florida, Florida Springs in Panama City.

By T.A. Cannon


  • “Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood” by Koren Zailckas.
  • Henrietta Robin Barnes. “Hijacked Brains: The Experience and Science of Chronic Addiction”. [Place of publication not identified]: Dartmouth College Press, 2015. ISBN 9781611686746. Disponível em: Acesso em: 16 March 2022.