When most people are in the midst of a lengthy prison sentence, they tend to think their life is over, or at least severely disrupted. The last thing they’re thinking about is writing a book with their dad. Rolando Perez, however, has always been a little different and a little more driven. Once bent on being an engineer, he would, as a child, often run around his house with two books saying: “This is my dad’s dissertation, and this is my dissertation.” He was even on an academic decathlete in high school. It seemed as though he was able to write his own future.
En route to that limitless future, however, life took an unexpected and ugly turn. In college, while studying on scholarship, Rolando started self-medicating for depression and his life spiraled out of control. He is currently serving seven years for possession with intent to deliver a narcotic. Many would call it a day after that; however, Rolando has decided to turn his experiences into a cautionary tale in the form of a book on which he’s collaborating with this father, Dr. Juan Perez. An Everlasting Bond: The Story of a Father and His Son hit shelves and sites last month.
In addition to the deeply personal material that the weighty title suggests, the book focuses on a variety of issues faced by the United States’ addicted population, including prison culture, treatment accessibility and more. It calls for a “cultural shift” in talking about and treating the issue because 90 percent of those with a substance abuse disorder are not getting any treatment at all. Above all it puts a human face on addiction and highlights the devastating impact it causes individuals and the families that love them. This is something that many need to see as the stigma of moral failure continues to hover around chemical dependency.
At his trial, Rolando had the same attorney that defended Ethan Couch, or as many know him the “affluenza teen” who killed four people while driving drunk in 2013 and received probation. He did not, however, have Couch’s financial resources and wasn’t able to gather the money to attend a quality treatment program…the alternative was jail. Rolando has been sent to prison three times, and has received no level of treatment during the totality of his incarceration. Dr. Juan Perez, a certified school counselor who works with school districts and former parole commissioner for the state of Texas, is hoping this latest collaboration with his son will help guide the addiction conversation in a more substantive and helpful direction.