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From the New York Times bestselling author of Factory Man comes the only book to fully chart the opioid crisis in America-an unforgettable portrait of the families and first responders on the front lines. 2018 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Winner for Science & Technology
In this masterful work, Beth Macy takes us into the epicenter of America's twenty-plus year struggle with opioid addiction. From distressed small communities in Central Appalachia to wealthy suburbs; from disparate cities to once-idyllic farm towns; it's a heartbreaking trajectory that illustrates how this national 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 endeavors to answer a grieving mother's question-why her only son died-and comes away with a harrowing story of greed and need. From the introduction of OxyContin in 1996, Macy parses how America embraced a medical culture where overtreatment with painkillers became the norm. In some of the same distressed 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, yet deeply human portraits of the families and first responders struggling to ameliorate this epidemic, each facet of the crisis comes into focus. In these politically fragmented times, Beth Macy shows, astonishingly, that the only thing that unites Americans across geographic and class lines is opioid drug abuse. But in a country unable to provide basic healthcare for all, Macy still finds reason to hope-and signs of the spirit and tenacity necessary in those facing addiction to build a better future for themselves and their families.
"Everyone should read Beth Macy's story of the American opioid epidemic" -- Professor Anne C Case, Professor Emeritus at Princeton University and Sir Angus Deaton, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics
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.
Table of Contents
Author's Note 1
Part 1 The People v. Purdue
Chapter 1 The United States of Amnesia 15
Chapter 2 Swag 'n' Dash 31
Chapter 3 Message Board Memorial 57
Chapter 4 "The Corporation Feels No Pain" 87
Part 2 Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear
Chapter 5 Suburban Sprawl 103
Chapter 6 "Like Shooting Jesus" 122
Chapter 7 FUBI 146
Chapter 8 "Shit Don't Stop" 164
Part 3 "A Broken System"
Chapter 9 Whac-A-Mole 189
Chapter 10 Liminality 209
Chapter 11 Hope on a Spreadsheet 232
Chapter 12 "Brother, Wrong or Right" 250
Chapter 13 Outcasts and Inroads 269
Epilogue: Soldier's Disease 297
What People are Saying About This
Professor of Economics and Public Affairs, Emeritus at Princeton University and Sir Angus Deaton, FBA HonFRSE and winner - Anne C Case
“Everyone should read Beth Macy’s story of the American opioid epidemic, of suffering, of heroism and stupidity, and of the corporate greed and regulatory failure that lies behind it. With compassion and humanity, Macy takes us into the lives of the victims, their families, law enforcement, and even some of the criminals. A great book!”
U.S. Senator (Va) - Tim Kaine
“Beth Macy writes about our opioid epidemic but Dopesick is not about the drugs. It’s a book about kids and moms and neighbors and the people who try to save them. It’s about shame and stigma and desperation. It’s about bad policy, greed and corruption. It’s a Greek tragedy with a chorus of teenage ghosts who know how to text but can’t express how they feel.”
Author of Glass House: The 1% Economy and the Shattering of the All-American Town - Brian Alexander
“Dopesick will make you shudder with rage and weep with sympathy. Beth Macy's empathy and fearless reporting reaches beyond the headlines to tell the stories of how real people have been left to cope with the fallout of corporate greed, and the willful blindnesses of businesses and the government. Macy again shows why she's one of America's best non-fiction writers”
“Beth Macy is not satisfied with myths or side-bars. She seeks the very hearts of the people who are running the long marathons of struggle and survival - of Life. Dopesick is another deep - and deeply needed - look into the troubled soul of America.” - Tom Hanks
Author of What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia - Elizabeth Catte
"With the greatest compassion, Beth Macy plunges us into a world that deserves our knowing, filled with grieving mothers, cut-throat pharmaceutical executives, determined first-responders, and indifferent lawmakers. Radiating out from Appalachia, where the collision of poverty and pain created the ghoulish market for OxyContin, to the quiet addiction of suburbs and farming communities, you will recognize this world and weep for it. And then you will want to change it, because there can be no other response. Dopesick is both a tribute to those who lost and a fierce rebuke to those who took, and the new guidebook for understanding this quintessentially American crisis."
Pulitzer Prize winning author of the National bestseller Confederates in the Attic - Tony Horwitz
“I’m still in withdrawal from Dopesick, a harrowing journey through the history and contemporary hell-scape of drug addiction. Beth Macy brings a big heart, a sharp eye, and a powerful sense of place to the story of ordinary Americans in the grip of an extraordinary crisis.”
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