Grieving Friend Interviewed on “Last Day”

“Dave and Chris co-hosted 142 episodes of Dopey, a recovery podcast about ‘drugs, addiction and dumb s—-,’ when the worst thing that could have ever happened, happened: Chris relapsed and died.” 

Thus begins the description of episode16 of Last Day, a podcast I’ve been a fan of since the first episode of its first season. Last Day features Stephanie Wittels Wachs, whose brother Harris died of an overdose. She interviews guests and explains in no uncertain terms what she thinks and how she feels about everything to do with the overdose epidemic — and I love her passion for the cause of helping people affected by and bereaved because of addiction.

The “Doing Dopey” episode of Last Day is an interview with Dave, a person in recovery whose podcast co-host and best friend, Chris, died from the disease of addiction. The episode is a testament to the stark impact overdose deaths have on friends left behind who are among the fellow travelers of people who die from substance-use-related causes.

“After Chris died,” Dave says, “I was totally, totally out of my mind in grief.”

He goes on to tell of how he recorded the very next episode of Dopey after Chris died, for which he interviewed Chris’s girlfriend Annie, an experience that felt to Dave “as though the blood [had] drained from my whole face and body.”

Dave’s journey included terrible feelings of guilt because he didn’t know Chris was using when he thought he “should” have known. It also includes insights into how he grapples with his own recovery and risk. 

“To be honest with you,” Dave says, “I don’t feel like if I used, I would die. Even though I would. But that’s how deep the f—— denial is in me.”

This observation explains something that seems inexplicable when someone dies of an overdose after they have experienced a period of recovery. 

Dave is still in recovery and hosting Dopey, and both the pain of grief and coping with life without drugs are struggles he carries with him always. They are forces that are transformative in his life — and are part of who he is. (For more about Dave, Chris, and Dopey, please see the in-depth article from Vice online magazine.)

Each person’s grief is different, and there are thousands upon thousands of personal stories about grief and loss being lived by people who use drugs or used to use them. Stephanie’s interview with Dave is a reminder that the stories of these experiences have a place in how we respond to the overdose epidemic, that people who have traveled alongside those who have died need help for their grief and deserve compassion for their suffering.

SADOD has a section with helpful resources and information for people with a history of using drugs, and we welcome feedback about how we might better serve those who have been affected by deaths from substance use.

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