Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America by Beth Macy

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Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America by Beth Macy

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Ward's Pick: Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America by Beth Macy & All The Pieces Matter: The Inside Story of The Wire by Jonathan Abrams. I grabbed a copy of All The Pieces Matter right away when it came in. Not only would it help me to delay watching The Wire for a fifth time, it is a perfect behind-the-scenes oral history of the greatest show I’ve ever seen. And, as great as this book is, I easily put it on the back burner when I got an advance copy of Beth Macy’s upcoming Dopesick. I immediately dove into this tragic and exhaustive history of the opioid epidemic as it has played out in Southwest Virginia since Purdue Pharma introduced and overproduced OxyContin in the late 1990s. This is definitely a book to put on your radar. There are so many important things to say about Dopesick, but it boils down to this: this book is a must-read for everyone! And, it is the perfect book to read in conjunction with All The Pieces Matter. Not only does the Baltimore heroin market play a significant role in the book, but one of the detectives who is championed for breaking up a heroin ring in Winchester repeatedly claims to feel like he’s in The Wire.

About the book: 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.

About the author: 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.

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