Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America by Beth Macy
Published by Little, Brown and Company on August 7th, 2018
Genre: History, Non-Fiction
“The fix isn’t more Suboxone or lectures on morality but rather a reinvigorated democracy that provides a pathway for meaningful work, with a living wage, for everybody.”
One of the things I’m proudest of is starting a book club at work. Even though we’re a small group, I get to interact with people on other teams that I ordinarily wouldn’t get to work with. This was the second book we chose to read for Rita Book, the name of our book club!
Beth Macy takes us into the epicenter of America’s struggle with opioid addiction in Dopesick. From small communities in Central Appalachia to wealthy suburbs; from disparate cities to once-idyllic farm towns; it’s a heartbreaking journey that looks at how the national crisis has persisted for twenty-plus years.
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.
From the introduction of OxyContin in 1996, Macy shows us how America embraced a medical culture where overtreatment with painkillers became the norm. And it didn’t matter where you lived, your occupation, your economic status, or how old you are. It ravaged communities.
Macy’s unflinching and deeply human portraits of families and first responders struggling to survive in the face of this epidemic brings each facet of the crisis into focus.
Oh, boy. This book is incredibly heartbreaking to read. It deals with a tough subject matter and this won’t be something that everyone is desperate to pick up. I knew that it was important for me to read because I’ve been lucky enough not to know anyone personally who has gone through drug addiction. It opened my eyes to the horrifying effects that it has on the person addicted to opioids and everyone close to them.
Unfortunately, as this is an ongoing epidemic, Macy doesn’t offer any solutions for ways we can help. Instead she humanizes people who the media are more than happy to paint as people who don’t can’t be helped.
What was most shocking to me with Macy’s interviews was that this could happen to anyone. You could have your wisdom teeth taken out and doctors would prescribe opioids for you. It is scary how easy it is to get addicted. You don’t need to be the stereotypical “drug addict” to let the drug overtake your entire life. It affected the unemployed, privileged teens, and high school standouts who were poised to become valedictorian. Anyone could fall prey to prostitution, jail, and death.
Macy interviewed several people, but the one story that I found the most compelling was Tess. She seemingly had the most “motivation” and “resources” to become sober. She was white, she had her mom and her son to live for, and her grandfather was more than happy to pay for rehab. And yet even she couldn’t pull through.
The reason why I gave this 3.5 bubble teas is because I wanted more context about what’s being done and what can be done to fix this. It felt like there was no way out of this and nobody could do anything to help.
But I do recommend people read this if you are unfamiliar with the opioid crisis.