An unforgettable portrait of the devastating opioid crisis in America from a New York Times bestselling author and journalist who has lived through it.
In this masterful work, Beth Macy takes us into the epicentre 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. At the heart of the story is a large corporation, Purdue - whose owners are celebrated for their sponsorship of art galleries and museums - that targeted areas of the country already awash in painkillers and encouraged small town doctors to prescribe Oxycontin, a highly addictive drug. Evidence of its capacity to enslave its users was suppressed.
Macy tries 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, America embraced a medical culture where over-treatment with painkillers became the norm. In distressed communities of ex-miners and factory workers , 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 bright students fall prey to prostitution, jail, and death.
Through unsparing, yet deeply human portraits of the families, cops and doctors struggling to ameliorate this epidemic, each facet of the crisis comes into focus. Beth Macy shows 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 that there may be a decent future for people so abandoned by their political leaders.
'A shocking investigation ... [Dopesick] is essential. The urgency of its message is compounded by the fact that as I write this, the latest figures show the number of deaths in England and Wales due to the synthetic opioid fentanyl rose by 29 per cent in 2017' The Times.
'Essential reading ... Macy follows one specific drug through the range of problems it has caused, the people it has hurt, the difficulties in fighting it and the glimmers of hope that remain' Janet Maslin, New York Times.
'Beth Macy 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.
'An urgent, eye-opening look at a problem that promises to grow much worse in the face of inaction and indifference' Kirkus.
'Macy potently mixes statistics and hard data with tragic stories of individual sufferers, as well as those who love and attempt to treat them ... Forceful and comprehensive' Publishers Weekly.
'A crucial and many-faceted look at a still-unfolding national crisis ... A timely and necessary read' Booklist.