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Dopesick
Cover of Dopesick
Dopesick
Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America
by Beth Macy

An instant New York Times bestseller, Dopesick is the only book to tell the full story of the opioid crisis, from the boardroom to the courtroom and into the living rooms of Americans struggling to save themselves and their families: "masterfully interlaces stories of communities in crisis with dark histories of corporate greed and regulatory indifference" (New York Times) from a journalist who has lived through it.


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

An instant New York Times bestseller, Dopesick is the only book to tell the full story of the opioid crisis, from the boardroom to the courtroom and into the living rooms of Americans struggling to save themselves and their families: "masterfully interlaces stories of communities in crisis with dark histories of corporate greed and regulatory indifference" (New York Times) from a journalist who has lived through it.


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

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Awards-
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.
Reviews-
  • Library Journal

    March 15, 2018

    New York Times best-selling author Macy (Factory Man; Truevine) starts with a drug dealer who set about hooking high school football stars in a small Virginia town, then moves to users, families, and first responders to show that America's opioid crisis is rooted in both greed and desperation. Addiction thrives on the pain engendered by unemployment and diminished opportunity in this country today. With a 100,000-copy first printing.

    Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    June 1, 2018
    Harrowing travels through the land of the hypermedicated, courtesy of hopelessness, poverty, and large pharmaceutical companies.A huge number of Americans, many of them poor rural whites, have died in the last couple of decades of what one Princeton researcher has called "diseases of despair," including alcoholism, suicide, and drug overdoses caused by the hopeless sense that there's a lack of anything better to do. Roanoke-based investigative journalist Macy (Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother's Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South, 2016, etc.) locates one key killer--the opioid epidemic--in the heart of Appalachia and other out-of-the-way places dependent on outmoded industries, bypassed economically and culturally, and without any political power to speak of, "hollows and towns and fishing villages where the nearest rehab facility was likely to be hours from home." Prisons are much closer. Macy's purview centers on the I-81 corridor that runs along the Appalachians from eastern Tennessee north, where opioid abuse first rose to epidemic levels. She establishes a bleak pattern of high school football stars and good students who are caught in a spiral: They suffer some pain, receive prescriptions for powerful medications thanks to a pharmaceutical industry with powerful lobbying and sales arms ("If a doctor was already prescribing lots of Percocet and Vicodin, a rep was sent out to deliver a pitch about OxyContin's potency and longer-lasting action"), and often wind up dead or in jail, broke and broken by a system that is easy to game. Interestingly, Macy adds, "almost to a person, the addicted twentysomethings I met had taken attention-deficit medication as children." Following her survey of the devastation wrought in the coal and Rust belts, the author concludes with a call to arms for a "New Deal for the Drug Addicted," a constituency that it's all too easy to write off even as their number climbs. An urgent, eye-opening look at a problem that promises to grow much worse in the face of inaction and indifference.

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from June 11, 2018
    Journalist Macy (Truevine) takes a hard and heartbreaking look at the cradle of the opioid addiction crisis, the Appalachian region of Virginia and nearby states. She places the responsibility for the epidemic squarely on Purdue Frederick, makers of OxyContin, and its sales division, Purdue Pharma, which engaged in near-predatory marketing practices to sell a drug that has wreaked havoc on the lives of 2.6 million Americans who are currently addicted, with more than 100 dying per day from opioid overdoses. In the first of three sections, she addresses “big pharma” in telling detail, outlining how the overprescribing of pain medication in doctors’ offices and emergency rooms created a market demand that was then met by illegal drug peddlers on the streets. Section two follows the spiral of addiction as users of prescription pills no longer able to afford their habit turn to heroin, a cheaper and more lethal solution to feed their fix. In the last section, the author changes the focus to what has become an addiction treatment industry. Macy potently mixes statistics and hard data with tragic stories of individual sufferers, as well as those who love and attempt to treat them. One addict, Tess Henry, was just 26 when she was first interviewed by Macy and, despite multiple attempts at rehab so that she could raise her infant son, she was dead within three years. Macy’s forceful and comprehensive overview makes clear the scale and complexity of America’s opioid crisis.

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Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America
Beth Macy
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