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Dopesick : dealers, doctors, and the drug company that addicted America
2018
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Chronicles America's more than twenty-year struggle with opioid addiction, from the introduction of OxyContin in 1996, through the spread of addiction in distressed communities in Central Appalachia, to the current national crisis. - (Baker & Taylor)

Journalist Beth Macy's definitive account of America's opioid epidemic "masterfully interlaces stories of communities in crisis with dark histories of corporate greed and regulatory indifference" (New York Times) -- from the boardroom to the courtroom and into the living rooms of Americans.

In this extraordinary work, Beth Macy takes us into the epicenter of a national drama that has unfolded over two decades. From the labs and marketing departments of big pharma to local doctor's offices; wealthy suburbs to distressed small communities in Central Appalachia; from distant cities to once-idyllic farm towns; the spread of opioid addiction follows a tortuous trajectory that illustrates how this crisis has persisted for so long and become so firmly entrenched.

Beginning with a single dealer who lands in a small Virginia town and sets about turning high school football stars into heroin overdose statistics, Macy sets out to answer a grieving mother's question-why her only son died-and comes away with a gripping, unputdownable story of greed and need. From the introduction of OxyContin in 1996, Macy investigates the powerful forces that led America's doctors and patients to embrace a medical culture where overtreatment with painkillers became the norm. In some of the same communities featured in her bestselling book Factory Man, the unemployed use painkillers both to numb the pain of joblessness and pay their bills, while privileged teens trade pills in cul-de-sacs, and even high school standouts fall prey to prostitution, jail, and death.

Through unsparing, compelling, and unforgettably humane portraits of families and first responders determined to ameliorate this epidemic, each facet of the crisis comes into focus. In these politically fragmented times, Beth Macy shows that one thing uniting Americans across geographic, partisan, and class lines is opioid drug abuse. But even in the midst of twin crises in drug abuse and healthcare, Macy finds reason to hope and ample signs of the spirit and tenacity that are helping the countless ordinary people ensnared by addiction build a better future for themselves, their families, and their communities.

"An impressive feat of journalism, monumental in scope and urgent in its implications." -- Jennifer Latson, The Boston Globe - (Grand Central Pub)

Author Biography

Beth Macy is the author of the widely acclaimed and bestselling books Truevine and Factory Man. Based in Roanoke, Virginia for three decades, her reporting has won more than a dozen national awards, including a Nieman Fellowship for Journalism at Harvard.
- (Grand Central Pub)

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Booklist Reviews

"Dopesick," street lingo for narcotics withdrawal, is also used metaphorically here for addictive opioids' damage of families, neighborhoods, and the nation itself. Macy, prizewinning journalist and best-selling author of Factory Man, details America's opioid addiction, starting with one dealer's arrival in a small Virginia town (Appalachia is most impacted by this national-health menace), adding the high-school's football players into growing numbers of heroin-overdose fatalities. Her spot-on narration captures the wretched voices of grieving parents questioning why their boys died and the broken words of neighbors, shattered as drug abuses and deaths of their depressed, unemployed husbands multiply, the result of painkiller overuse. Tracking the progression of addiction from 1996, with OxyContin typically overprescribed for injury and postsurgical pain, Macy leads readers through the inevitable and dreadful downward spiral of addiction. Still, Macy suggests that there may be hope. Josh Melter's PDF photos complement these wrenching person-to-person accounts, a must for contemporary nonfiction library collections. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Library Journal Reviews

Here is a comprehensive look at the opiate crisis from the formulation of heroin in 1898 to the impact of heroin and fentanyl addiction in Appalachia. Focusing on the crisis in three states—Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland—allows the author to explore the personal and family impacts of addiction in those areas, although the crisis is paralleled across the United States. The resulting tale includes the aggressive marketing of Oxycodone by Perdue Pharma; the overprescription of pain meds by greedy physicians; the dealing and distribution of heroin laced with fentanyl to those injured on the job, athletes, and students; and overdose deaths, which are occurring at a record pace. This is a big story well told, clearly narrated by the author. The many characters and episodes are interwoven and blur somewhat in the audio format. Those serious about learning about the crisis will need a print copy with its copious source notes. VERDICT Recommended for adult nonfiction collections. ["Macy's use of current research by various experts makes clear how complex the opioid problem is, but the strength of this narrative comes from the people in the day-to-day battle": LJ 4/15/18 review of the Little, Brown hc.]—Cliff Glaviano, formerly with Bowling Green State Univ. Libs., OH

Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

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