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Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  6,026 ratings  ·  971 reviews
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
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published August 7th 2018 by Little, Brown and Company
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Sep 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company Who Addicted America by Beth Macy is a 2018 Little, Brown and Company publication.

“Because the most important thing for the morphine-hijacked brain is, always, not to experience the crushing physical and psychological pain of withdrawal: but to avoid dope sickness at any cost.”

While some may remain untouched, most Americans are painfully aware of the grip opiate addiction has on our country. Like the synopsis states: “From distressed small commun
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shocking.....just shocking!

I had no idea how bad things have become and who was responsible. You hear news about the opioid crisis and it's getting worse and we need to do something about it.....but we don't. Giving out Narcan to folks so if they overdose they have the fix, not sure if I fully agree with it. Aren't we just enabling it more by this? I remember once someone telling me at a hospital someone came in, OD'd. Given Narcan, revived. Awesome! They were given Narcan to take with them. Lat
Oct 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“The informant leaned into [Lieutenant Richard] Stallard’s cruiser. ‘This feller up here’s got this new stuff he’s selling. It’s called Oxy, and he says it’s great,’ he said.

‘What is it again?” Stallard asked.

‘It’s Oxy-compton…something like that.’

Pill users were already misusing it to intensify their high, the informant explained, as well as selling it on the black market. Oxy came in much higher dosages than standard painkillers, and an 80-milligram tablet sold for $80, making its potential f
Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
I personally know 5 families who have lost a family member(s) to heroin/fentanyl. Good, strong, well-educated families. It is happening all around us, in all walks of life.

There are plenty of heartbreaking personal accounts in this book from families who have lost a loved one, and the steps they took in an attempt to save them. It can, and does, happen to anyone. They aren’t “other”, they are us, and it is heart-wrenching to read.

According to the author the roots of the epidemic stems from a pe
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In 2012, author and investigative social journalist, Beth Macy began writing about the worst drug (heroin) epidemic in world history. “Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and The Drug Company That Addicted America” began in the hills and valleys of Appalachia, the mid-western rust belt, rural Maine before rapidly spreading throughout the U.S. In 2016, 64,000 Americans perished from drug related causes and overdoses-- outnumbering the total of those killed during the Viet Nam War. Macy explored the terri ...more
"But you can't put a corporation in jail; you just take their money, and it's not really their money anyway. The corporation feels no pain."
Beth Macy has made a name for herself with her award-winning research and journalism, and she put her skills to good use in covering America's opioid crisis from past to present. Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America discusses all the warnings history has left for us concerning the addictive qualities of opiates, referen
Dec 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Heartbreaking, infuriating, incredibly well-researched.

This is an impeccably researched overview of the US-American opioid crisis, enriched by case studies of people affected. Macy manages to show both the immediate, private reach of this crisis and the overarching problems in the health system that led to it.
"When a new drug sweeps the country, it historically starts in the big cities and gradually spreads to the hinterlands, as in the cases of cocaine and crack. But the opioid epidemic began in exactly the opposite manner, grabbing a toehold in isolated Appalachia, Midwestern rust belt counties, and rural Maine. Working-class families who were traditionally dependent on jobs in high-risk industries to pay their bills—coal mining in southwest Virginia, steel milling in western Pennsylvania, logging ...more
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Compelling, informative, compassionate, and harrowing. Dopesick is a comprehensive account of America's opioid crisis that has plagued disparate rural areas throughout the country, though Beth Macy mainly narrows down her research to her local Appalachia. She pieces together interviews with doctors, advocates, addicts, and individuals who have lost family members to the drug, to weave some kind of narrative out of the onslaught of factors which have contributed to the epidemic.

While the reality
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Dopesick was very well done and thought provoking. But it took me a long time to listen to the audio because it felt like I could only listen to so much bleak information about the opioid crisis at any given time. Beth Macy looks at opioid addiction from many perspectives, including its causes and the failing efforts to implement a solution that works. But what makes this one especially difficult and compelling are the stories of individual addicts and their families. Macy got very close to seve ...more
Mar 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was ridiculously excellent. Macy is a fantastic writer, and she is so good at getting you to care about the people and issues in this book. I read Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic but didn't think it was particularly good, in terms of helping me understand WTF was going on with the opioid crisis. Macy's book is just SO. MUCH. BETTER. at that aspect of this, while including narrative and biography.

(Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here. This is not at all hopeful, and there
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Dopesick is a very informative and well-written book about the opioid epidemic. Unfortunately, I listened to the audiobook, and I really hate to whine about this, but the author narrates it, and her voice reminded me so much of that of Sarah Huckabee Sanders. This isn't anyone's fault, of course, but I do wonder whether a different performer might have brought more life to the narration. That being said, the author tells an important series of stories and does so in a compassionate way I fund co ...more
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
(Note: I received an advanced electronic copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley.)

Beth Macy has crafted a work that expertly utilizes both a grander narrative and the personal tragic tales of numerous figures and families, all to great effect to show how the ongoing epidemic came to be.

This is a work that will tear out your heart before filling you with a ferocious fury. Fury at the shameless drug companies who targeted economically depressed communities with their painkillers. Fury over the co
Sep 03, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 Stars - 4 for the importance of the subject matter, 3 for the quality of the writing. I felt like there were just too many players to keep track of in the narrative. Someone introduced on page 30 by their full name is going to be unforgettable when introduced by their first name after there have been 40 or so other people introduced during the ensuing pages. Such fragmented storytelling proved to be frustrating to this reader. Nevertheless, an important book about a problem that will not soo ...more
♥ Sandi ❣
4 stars Thank you to NetGalley and Little Brown and Company for a chance to read this book. Published August 7, 2018.

For me this was a book that needed a bit of time, after reading, to be able to review it. The author Beth Macy is a favorite author of mine. I enjoy the way she lays her information out. Every book I have read by her was about a vastly different subject, but all were researched well and, although non fiction, were presented in a story-like offering.

Obvious by the title, this boo
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An emotional, powerful, important must-read. This book wasn't trying to do what HILLBILLY ELEGY was trying to do, but it did it, anyway. It did a great job getting close to answering those big questions. I got a huge understanding of the cycle of addiction and struggle in Appalachia. Beth Macy writes with her heart and her skill. Both are enormous.
Peter Mcloughlin
I have read several books on the opioid epidemic but never had I read a nonfiction narrative documenting such a landscape of relentless distress and horror. This book is heartwrenching as individuals and communities sink into levels of hell that grow worse and worse. The author Beth Macy is a reporter at a Roanoke Virginia newspaper and covers the story of the opioid epidemic from the grotesque greed of Purdue pharma which pushed these pills by taking doctors on junkets to sell their OxyCodone i ...more
May 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you want to know the backstory of America's opioid epidemic, look no further than Beth Macy's meticulously researched book. The personal vignettes bring a face to the stories we read about in the paper. I know many people will compare it to Hillbilly Elegy, which I learned a great deal from, but this book raised more questions for me. I think it would be a fantastic book club discussion. It points out a broken health care system that will continue to let people down if we don't make changes s ...more
Ellen Gail
If you've seen my reviews of books like American Pain and Dreamland, you'll know that I work in pharmacy. (also that I am totally a shill for 'Big Pharma'. Cause I can't possibly review books and, you know, have my own opinions on them?)

Seems awfully suspicious to me.

“I can remember telling my residents, ‘A patient can’t get hooked on fourteen days’ worth of [opioid] pills.’ And I was absolutely wrong.”

Anyway, talking about Dopesick. You've got a really good bit of nonfiction here. Timely, wel
Aug 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Dopesick is an excellent companion to Sam Quinones’ Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic. Macy expands on Quinones' reporting on Purdue Pharmaceutical’s indefensible marketing of OxyContin that resulted in thousands and thousands of addicted users. Perdue was forced to reformulate and paid serious fines, but left devastated lives (and deaths) in its wake.

Macy excels at recounting the individual stories of families that have had to deal with their sons and daughters being addict
Oct 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was eye-opening in several respects. Being generally aware and reading about this epidemic is one thing, but having such a detailed account of the hurdles and obstacles people have to overcome to get treatment, is a whole other thing. I found the writing a little choppy at times - anecdotes and side comments thrown in spots - which I could have done without. But overall, this was as good as it was difficult to read. The most frightening thing is that it is not entirely clear how we get out ...more
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Incredibly well researched with a clear understanding of all the different facets of why and how Opioid addiction manifests and spreads like a wildfire out of control. Why the current laws and legislation will never outsmart the current model of profiteering and abuse. Unfortunately it's a war where only those affected will see and live the reality of what some will only see as a "godsend". The Pain medication debate resulting with a "steamrolling" epidemic, where the balance between assisting i ...more
Jill Mackin
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book about the opioid crisis in America. Dopesick is a very readable book about a major problem, which began in the central Appalachia area of Virginia, and has spread across the country.
Jul 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you Net Galley for the free ARC.
I had barely started reading and I was immediatly getting fired up. First of all - the greed of drug companies, salespeople and doctors.Whatever happened to "First do no harm"? I never realized the amount of money that was at stake here. I also did not realize that doctors caved in so easily to drug reps.

But then, really in the end the decision to take the drugs lies within each individual. On some level you have got to know that you should not need any opi
Jul 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
From Roanoke to Maine to Humbolt County, the opioid crisis has swept across the United States with pundits on every side calling for action. Macy cuts through the debate with well-documented research that advocates for a combination of Medication-Assisted Treatment and a twelve step program. Word by word she builds a most striking argument for change. Even in the face of a lack of federal action and the complaints of nimbys, the author provides real solutions and hope. Macy’s work and her writin ...more
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
People, just read this. I never claimed to know much about drugs, and this book confirmed that I was right. What a sad sad book! If you have children, I highly recommend you check this book out. Literally, from your library if necessary! It will remind you to always keep your eyes open in regards to your children. Talk to them! This book affected me on a deep level, and I don't have kids to worry about, and I have never really taken prescription drugs. Especially those discussed in this book. It ...more
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beth Macy presents a compelling and very readable argument for who should hold the blame for the current opioid crisis killing as many as 7 people an hour in the U.S. First she points to pharmaceutical companies that developed these drugs and aggressively marketed them to doctors despite convincing research showing its highly addictive properties. And she blames the doctors who over prescribed these opioids because it was easier than monitoring patients or helping them find other means of pain m ...more
Liz Bartek
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great work by Macy, as always; truly heartbreaking, we're not doing enough to address this epidemic.
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I remember back in high school, as part of a senior project about drugs and drug use, I had to write a paper. My argument in that paper was that legalization of any drug was a terrible idea, and would ultimately do more harm than good. This was back in 1990, when "just say no" was the all-encompassing message sent out to kids around the country. That paper, and the overly-simplistic attitude and mindset are not things I think about very often these days...but they definitely come to mind upon fi ...more
Sep 15, 2018 rated it did not like it
I cannot read another largely uncritical account of the plight of the white working class in America. I spent an unreasonable amount of time and energy railing against the concept of false consciousness in grad school, but think it’s sorely missing from this account. The author and her subjects criticize the shortcomings of Medicaid without attempting to explain why the communities she focused on, as she notes in a few throwaway lines, vote reliably for people who want to gut it at least restric ...more
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Obsessed with Tru...: Dopesick, by Beth Macy 6 32 Sep 06, 2018 01:29PM  
“America’s approach to its opioid problem is to rely on Battle of Dunkirk strategies—leaving the fight to well-meaning citizens, in their fishing vessels and private boats—when what’s really needed to win the war is a full-on Normandy Invasion.” 4 likes
“Opioids are now on pace to kill as many Americans in a decade as HIV/AIDS has since it began, with leveling-off projections tenuously predicted in a nebulous, far-off future: sometime after 2020.” 3 likes
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