Books by John E. Smethers, Ph.D
Chapter Synopses for Addict to Academic
Chapter One: The Third Day - 1985 to '89
In order to draw the reader into my world as a partying drug addict and elucidate the chaotic condition of my life at 40 years old, I start with my job as a bartender at the California Country--a rowdy bar in downtown Barstow at the time. My eventual sentence to three years in the state penitentiary was a result of selling drugs to undercover officers while employed at The Country.I then describe the rapid decline of my life through the use of methamphetamine, which I accentuate with my experience of The Third Day with no sleep.
Chapter Two: Predisposition to Addiction - 1945 to ‘57
From this chapter on, the book is written chronologically. Here I explore various incidents and family members from my childhood that I see as predispositions to addiction that accentuates a lifestyle with an edge, which includes various aspects of being cool. This being an autobiography rather than a memoir, I cover the years with my parents as a happy time of my life. This is the only chapter the reader might find somewhat boring, but I tried to offset that with predispositions that I believe the reader will find as psychologically interesting as I do.I draw this chapter to a close describing how the relationship between my dog and I changed because of entering junior high school, and then I discuss my first love to a girl who would later in my life become the mother of my only child. I have included her photograph from the time-period to elucidate her charms.
Chapter Three: The Fifties - 1957 to ‘63
I open this chapter describing my premise that the fifties didn’t end until 1963. I posit that the Beatles ushered in the sixties along with the Viet Nam war, the civil rights movement, and a shift in rock and roll music.This chapter takes the reader through that transition period, first with the start of my drinking career, and associations with boys, many of whom I would remain friends with for the rest of my life. I tell of my first DUI on a motor scooter and my first car and the many times I wrecked it. descriptions of other delinquent behavior include crimes against my parents, such as sneaking their cars out at night for joy rides, and the beginning of my relationship with jail cells that would continue for 30 years.
Chapter Four: More Jails and a Road Trip - 1962 and ‘63
Here I describe my first experience doing time in the county jail. Like my first night in jail discussed in the previous chapter, I explain how neither of them served as a deterrent to drinking and my new found drug use. I didn’t mind the jail time--it wasn’t hard time. As with my first night in jail, I was incarcerated with my friends, and it was there that we planned a road trip once all of us were releasedMost of this chapter describes the road trip to Ohio where my friends and I continued to drink and go to jail periodically. This was a trip that each of our parents were strongly opposed to, but we had to find out for ourselves that we weren’t responsible enough to take such a trip with consequences.
Chapter Five: Drugs, Drugs, and More Drugs - 1963 to ‘65
This chapter encompasses my transition from drug experimentation to becoming the very most important thing in my life, which includes my first drug conviction that got me 120 days in the county jail, three years formal probation, license revocation, and restitution. I relate the devastation I experienced with the death of my best friend.More pertinent to the chapter heading, I describe my addiction to codeine cough syrup and the more than subtle nuances caused by being under its influence. During this time period we also experimented with Asthmadore, an over-the-counter drug that caused virtual hallucinations unlike those experienced through psychedelics. I also describe the scheduling of controlled drugs during that time to explain how we were able to obtain codeine from pharmacies. This explanation can also be referred to in later chapters when I cover the years I wrote my own medical prescriptions.
Chapter Six: The Puer--Sex, Drugs, and Rock n Roll - 1965 and ‘66
I begin this chapter describing the archetype of the puer aeternus, which describes virtually all drug and alcohol addicts. In short it’s the Peter Pan syndrome--grown men who don’t grow up as long as their obsession with drugs and alcohol is in progress.I continue with further sap (cough syrup) use, then after my release from county jail, my introduction to the intravenous use of heroin, another DUI, moving back and forth from Los Angeles, and more arrests and car accidents. This chapter ends with my move to Reno, Nevada with a friend of mine where we continue our alternate use of sap and wine.
Chapter Seven: Squeaky in Weeno (Reno) - 1966 and ‘67
This chapter focuses almost entirely on our experience with an insane window cleaner who called himself Squeaky. He had a speech impediment, and he was such an unforgettable character that both my friend and I spent the rest of our lives telling Squeaky stories.
Chapter Eight: The Shadow of Death - 1967
The entirety of this chapter covers my near-death experience in the Avawatz Mountains on the southeast corner of the Death Valley Monument. My dad invested in a gold mine, and I-- against my supposedly better judgement--was drafted to help him work it. In the last part of the chapter, I tell about my two subsequent returns to the elusive gold mine with friends.
Chapter Nine: Road Trips, Camp Snoopy, and Lynda - 1967 and ‘68
Road trips around California, Nevada, and Tijuana consume much of this chapter, with drugs being the focal point. I also return to the county jail camp where I spent time twice before. One of my friends got me a job in a service station where I stole gas caps from customers and then sold them back to them. I found myself in jail several times during 1967, and I explain the charges and the court dispositions.In this chapter I hook up with my first love from junior high school and I explain the rocky relationship that hangs on a thread because of drugs and alcohol. It was during this time with her that my dad died, so I take the reader through a state of mind that wouldn’t allow me to grieve because I was on such an emotional roller coaster ride with Lynda.
Chapter Ten: Counterfeiting, Smuggling & Drug Dealing - 1968
This chapter centers first on how my crime partners and I built capitol by passing counterfeit money to finance the purchase of large amounts of marijuana in Tijuana. Then comes dealing the pot, and of course the inevitable bust and the resulting trips to San Diego for court.
Chapter Eleven: The Trickster as a Lube Bay Bandit - 1969 and ‘70
This chapter is where the birth of my one and only child occurs. It also takes the reader through several jobs, culminating with a career that lasted ten years. I defrauded the public in service stations by pinning and cutting tires, and squirting oil on shocks, fan clutches, and fuel pumps. This chapter is my story of how we ‘50%ers’ did it. Later chapters also include elements of this.
Chapter Twelve: Party Animals and 50%ers - 1970 to ‘72
More recalcitrant addictive behavior and more 50%er stories. More arrests and more wrestling matches with lawyers and the criminal justice system.
Chapter Thirteen: More Booze, Drugs, Jails, and Jackie - 1972
In this chapter I introduce the reader to more cough syrup, but this time it was a preparation that required a prescription. In Barstow at the time there was a very old medical doctor who prescribed just about anything we asked for, even barbiturates. He wouldn’t prescribe the more potent opiates such as Demerol and Dilaudid, however, but we milked him other drugs for as long as he lived.Besides a summer of drinking straight tequila and going to jail for stealing it, this is where my uncle Cecil enters. Cecil spent 26 years in prison, and by the time that summer was over he was back in for another four. He and I and two other friends were arrested for armed robbery. One of the other friends turned out to be my girlfriend.
Chapter Fourteen: Downers, Death, and Marriage - 1972 to ‘75
After having gotten a scrip with three refills for 100 barbiturates from our local dope doctor, the next several months was pure chaos and resulting in several arrests. Ending up on probation for another DUI, it was time to go back to Vegas. It was while living there and working as a 50%er that I received a call from my mom concerning my wife’s suicide. My childhood sweetheart, Lynda, was gone and my four year old daughter was in my mom’s custody.The remainder of this chapter covers bringing my girlfriend to Vegas where we set up housekeeping. In order to get my daughter into my legal custody, we were married, and once I successfully terminated probation for the DUI, we appeared in court I was awarded custody of my daughter.
Chapter Fifteen: Prescription for Addiction - 1975 to ‘77
This entire chapter is devoted to the processes involved in calling in and writing our own medical prescriptions. I say ‘our’ because I had a crime partner. During the eight or nine years we did this, I was arrested for it several times, and I explain how we beat most of them in court. Our drug of choice was a very potent opiate, Tussionex--a bronchitis preparation.
Chapter Sixteen: Squeaky Reincarnated - 1975 to ‘77
During that same years, I became Squeaky reincarnated. I impersonated the character we were so fascinated with in Reno. Again I devote an entire chapter, this time to Squeaky’s Window Service. By this time Jackie had left and I had a new common law wife, Marci.
Chapter Seventeen: Stability and Chaos - 1977 to ‘84
My dad had died in 1968, but he put a clause in his will. I had to straighten out my life before I could be heir to what he left me. His brother was administrator of the estate and I had five years to clean up my act. Since I was married, had my young daughter with me, and operated my own business in Las Vegas, my uncle signed off and I received $20,000. I used it for a down payment on a new home. However, my stability was an illusion. I was still doing all the things I was doing before--nothing had really changed.Here I detail the arrest and resulting court trial for another arrest for writing prescriptions, my third wife leaving, and kicking my Tussionex habit and starting another one on methadone. Methadone kept me going, but I needed more, so I wrote scrips for a schedule IV drug called Placidyl--a downer similar to barbiturates, and drank a quart of Port wind every night. During this euphoric state of chaos, my crime partner and I endeavored to snatch a purse, which turned out to be a comedy of errors. This chapter ends with a new girlfriend and more chaos.
Chapter Eighteen: Leaving Las Vegas - 1984 to ‘88
After another bust for scrips, my chaotic lifestyle and chronic addictions finally drove my daughter away. She moved in with my mom in Barstow and became a budding drug addict herself. After another DUI and another wrecked car, I rented my out house and went to Barstow to live with my mom. Now she had two drug addicts living with her.Once in Barstow I immersed myself in the speed culture (intravenous use) which lasted for several years, ending with a prison term. Prior to going to prison, however, I got a job as a bartender, which is covered in chapter one. I wrap up this chapter with two more DUIs, a possession charge, and the sale of methamphetamine that got me into prison.
Chapter Nineteen: Prison, the Day Care Center - 1988 and ‘89
All of this chapter focuses on my prison experience, which includes my recovery from a seemingly hopeless case of mind and body. If it wasn’t for prison, I wouldn’t be here writing this today.
Chapter Twenty: Freedom at Last - 1989 to ‘94
Freedom from prison, yes, but freedom from addiction, and a reconciliation with my daughter that has grown exponentially ever since. This is also when I started my second life, the life of a full time college student, which got me an AA degree. This chapter focuses mainly on my education at the community college level, and it was there that I got involved with a married woman--an experience I learned from and haven’t repeated.Unfortunately (or maybe it was actually fortunate), I had three relapses--not back into full-on addiction, but just one-time forays, the last one lasting an entire weekend. After coming back into AA meetings as a newcomer, it hasn’t been necessary for me to take a drink or put a needle in my arm since 7 May 1990, and for that I am eternally grateful.
Chapter Twenty One: Higher Education - 1994 to ‘98
My daughter got clean and sober before I did, so before my mom died in February of 1995, she got to see her and I quite smoking and get clean and sober. This chapter focuses mostly on my education through a masters degree and a few published articles. It also covers the marriage of my daughter and my first grandchild.
Chapter Twenty Two: Doctor of Philosophy - 1998 to ‘05
The superior court judge who sent me to prison wrote a letter of recommendation as part of the application process to my doctoral program at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, California. He also wrote one for my application for a full pardon. Most of this chapter focuses on the process I went through to earn my Ph.D.