Dopesick

Dopesick

Dealers, Doctors, and the Company That Addicted America

Book - 2018
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Chronicles America's more than twenty-year struggle with opioid addiction, from the introduction of OxyContin in 1996, through the spread of addiction in distressed communities in Central Appalachia, to the current national crisis.
Publisher: New York : Little, Brown and Company, 2018
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780316551243
0316551244
Branch Call Number: 362.29 Ma
Description: vi, 376 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm

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ArapahoeMaryA Feb 21, 2019

- 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.

- If my own child were turning tricks on the streets, enslaved not only by the drug but also criminal dealers and pimps, I would want her to have the benefit of maintenance drugs, even if she sometimes misused them or otherwise figured out how to glean a subtle high from the experience. If my child's fear of dopesickness was so outsized that she refused even MAT, I would want her to have access to clean needles that prevented her from getting HIV and/or hepatitis C and potentially spreading them to others.

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jimg2000
Nov 22, 2018

Only 4 quotes in goodreads as of today. More here:

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 in Maine — weren’t just the first to experience the epidemic of drug overdose; they also happened to live in politically unimportant places, hollows and towns and fishing villages where the treatment options were likely to be hours from home.

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jimg2000
Nov 22, 2018

Dope sick begins in the coalfields, in the hamlet of St. Charles, Virginia, in the remote westernmost corner of the state, largely with the introduction of the painkiller OxyContin in 1996.
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You live in a city, maybe you’ve seen the public restroom with a sharps container, or witnessed a librarian administer Narran.
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Because the most important thing for the morphine - hijacked brain is, always, not to experience the crushing physical and psychological pain of withdrawal: to avoid dope sickness at any cost.
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In the 1820s , one of Boston’s leading merchants masterminded an opium - smuggling operation off the Cantonese coast , spawning millions for Boston Brahmins with the names of Cabot , Delano ( as in FDR ) , and Forbes . This money would go on to build many of the nation’s first railroads, mines, and factories.

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jimg2000
Nov 22, 2018

In a region where few businesses dare to set up shop because it’s hard to find workers who can pass a drug test, young parents can die of heroin overdose one day, leaving their untended baby to succumb to dehydration and starvation three days later. Appalachia was among the first places where the malaise of opioid pills hit the nation in the mid - 1990s, ensnaring coal miners, loggers, furniture makers, and their kids.
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Nationwide, the difference in life expectancy between the poorest fifth of Americans by income and the richest fifth widened from 1980 to 2010 by thirteen years. For a long time, it was assumed that the core driver of this differential was access to health care and other protective benefits of relative wealth. But in Appalachia, those disparities are even starker, with overdose mortality rates 65 percent higher than in the rest of the nation. Clearly, the problem wasn’t just of some people dying sooner; it was of white Americans dying in their prime.

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jimg2000
Nov 22, 2018

As the Virginia writer John C. Tucker described it in May God Have Mercy: “For a miner who avoids being crippled, burned or buried alive, the usual question is which will give out first — his lungs, his back, or his knees.”
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The term “hipster,” in fact, drew from the Chinese opium smoker of the 1800s, who’d spent much of his time smoking while reclining on one hip.
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When 20 percent of American soldiers came back from Vietnam with symptoms of heroin dependence, researchers were initially puzzled by the fact that most didn’t go on to become heroin addicts — possibly some theorized, because they returned to spread-out social networks in rural areas and small towns where heroin didn’t exist. It may have helped, too, that many were detoxed in Vietnam before they came home, with the veterans who continued to struggle with addiction typically being the ones who already had drug problems before serving.
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Barry Meier’s 2003 book, Pain Killer.

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jimg2000
Nov 22, 2018

Bill Clinton had predicted that China’s 2001 entry into the World Trade Organization would eventually create a “win - win” for workers. American companies would theoretically be able to export products to China’s growing consumer class, an argument Wall Street championed when stock prices climbed with every new plant - closing announcement. Corporate shareholders and CEOs ate up Clinton’s prediction, a cheery best - case version of Adam Smith’s eighteenth - century “invisible hand.” As the economists described it, Chinese peasants would better their lot by making chairs in factories, while dislocated American workers would retrain for more fulfilling, advanced jobs. But with ill - designed training for displaced Americans based on a lumbering federal program created in the 1960s, the second part of that equation very rarely came to pass.

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jimg2000
Nov 22, 2018

“But his crime actually required work, so he wasn’t lazy so much as he was desperate.” Like so many of the region’s petty thieves , the arsonist was propelled by fear of becoming dope sick , added another local prosecutor , who told me that 75 percent of all police calls in the county now involved heroin or methamphetamine , or , increasingly , a combination of both .
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Before the 2016 election of Donald Trump, that disconnect was maintained by a national media that paid little attention to rural, predominantly white places like St. Charles or Bassett , where the country’s much - hailed economic recovery had definitely not trickled down .
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If OxyContin was the new moonshine in rural America, disability was the new factory work. By 2016, for every unemployed American man between the ages of twenty - two and fifty - five, an additional three were neither working nor looking for work.

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jimg2000
Nov 22, 2018

“I stayed away from my other friends because what do you say when people ask you, ‘How are your kids doing? ’ ”
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Nothing’s more powerful than the morphine molecule, and once it has its hooks in you, nothing matters more. Not love. Not family. Not sex. Not shelter.
“If you have a guy doing a chain of bank robberies, you catch him and the robberies stop.” But the problem with heroin is the lure of the morphine molecule. Herr - on is my girlfriend.
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“We can’t arrest our way out of this epidemic.” That sentiment illuminated the folly of the decades - long War on Drugs, in which drug users are arrested four times more often than those who sell the drugs.
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From California to Florida , the parents behind Relatives Against Purdue Pharma already knew that OxyContin stood out more in rural America’s distressed hollows and towns , where reps could easily target the lowest - hanging fruit — the injured jobless and people on disability , with Medicaid cards .

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jimg2000
Nov 22, 2018

Lutz thought he had seen everything at George’s Chicken , a plant manned by dislocated factory workers , young locals who lived just north of the poverty line , immigrants who’d managed to land a work visa ( or a passable version of one ) , and an increasing number of workers whom Lutz referred to simply as “ diversion , ” as in : “ Most of the trouble we get around here is from diversion . ” A Virginia Department of Corrections initiative, the program aims to divert nonviolent felons from prison to employment, and to help them gain work experience that will ease the transition back to their communities after their sentences are complete.
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On average, every person enrolled in Medicare Part D in Lee County had been handed a whopping 10.23 opioid prescriptions in 2013, compared with just 2.96 in Shenandoah County.

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jimg2000
Nov 22, 2018

The real perfect storm fueling the opioid epidemic had been the collapse of work, followed by the rise in disability and its parallel, pernicious twin: the flood of painkillers pushed by rapacious pharma companies and regulators who approved one opioid pill after another. Declining workforce participation wasn’t just a rural problem anymore; it was everywhere, albeit to a lesser degree in areas with physicians who prescribed fewer opioids and higher rates of college graduates. As Monnet put it: “When work no longer becomes an option for people, what you have at the base is a structural problem, where the American dream becomes a scam.”
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Another trafficking artery was Interstate 95, which connected Baltimore to cities from Miami to Bangor, Maine, with nicknames that transitioned over time, depending on the drug of choice, from Reefer Express to Cocaine Lane to the Heroin Highway, also called the Highway to Hell.

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sheojuk
Feb 09, 2021

I seem to be alone in thinking this book is so sloppily written and edited as to be an embarrassment to both the author and the editor (if there was one). The story is vitally important, to be certain. I think the Sacklers should all spend long enough in prison to acquire serious drug problems (they won't).

But nevertheless, words have a meaning. Comparing a boy to an engine, Macy confuses the function of the choke and the accelerator. She describes the "prescient" display of Confederate flags (WTF?!?). She reports on an Oxytocin's victim as being found dead in his truck surrounded by empty pill bottles (overdose) /dead of heart attack per State Patrol/with his head blown apart as if from (sic) a gun. All three of these statements cannot be true. Any decent journalist would determine which was the case. And guns do not shoot heads, they shoot bullets.
There were any number of sentences from which I simply could not extract any meaning, no matter how many times I re-read them and the paragraph they were part of.

Beth Macy has won awards for her reporting and her writing in the past. I sincerely hope her earlier work was better written and edited than this book. What do editors do these days?? And I ask that as a former editor who would have gone through 3 or 4 blue pencils by page 82, which was when I gave up.

The problem she writes about here is simply capitalism working as intended, with people being nothing more than collateral damage, thrown under the bus of another family on its way to respectable philanthropy. You would think that in Appalachia, of all places, the residents would have figured this out by now.

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blcwrites
Dec 02, 2020

This amazing book should be required reading in every high school in the US - so well told, so hard to read at times, and so inspiring. Both author Macy and the people we get to know break our hearts and still give us some hope. I notice that the doctors who were in on the money and don't want their patients to hassle them are rarely addressed. Now that the Sacklers are out of the criminal closet, maybe the docs could step out into the light and own their part. I give up on our government and big pharma to ever come out of the shadows - how sad that is.

mywolfe Oct 30, 2020

This was a tough one. I had to put it down several times because the subject matter was so sad. I would recommend having a happier book on the side just in case the book gets too heavy and you need a break. It's well worth your efforts though.

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carolwu96
Sep 07, 2020

Raised in a culture that heavily censured drugs, I had always considered their abuse a choice rather than a necessity. Dopesick completely dismantled this mindset as the author followed numerous families on their pilgrimages to recovery and redemption. ⁣

The problem is systematic. It first became embedded in the medical and legal industries, when Purdue Pharma, the producer of OxyContin, marketed its product by misbranding it and essentially bribing the doctors into (over)prescription, for everything from wisdom teeth extractions to sprained ankles. People became addicted, but the firm was now garnering billions of dollars and stifling or settling most of its lawsuits, while its controlling family flourished and, ironically, became renowned for its philanthropy. ⁣

Dopesick also revealed that governmental policies were largely contingent upon outdated and unscientific assumptions. Addicted brains function as if they have been hijacked by drugs and should be treated as ill, but the society simply sees them as criminal. Immediate abstinence is almost impossible, but medication-assisted-treatments continue to be heavily stigmatized in courts and organizations. Convicted dealers are ushered right back into dealing for financial and legal reasons. In other words, although treatment and reintegration have proven to be more effective, they are simply not being done. ⁣

Dopesick is enlightening in all its dimensions. It is also terrifying to know how much this addition depended upon circumstances rather than the individual. When my wisdom teeth were removed, I had taken the prescribed painkillers without a second thought. Had I been in the States or received this surgery a decade ago in Canada, I could have easily been overprescribed with OxyContin. And where would I be now? Dopesick has demonstrated how easily policies and societal attitudes can be manipulated by the powerful, and how little ordinary individuals could do to remedy the damages that have been caused and the lives that have been lost. ⁣

And that is the scariest part of it all.

For more book reviews, visit me on Instagram @ RandomStuffIRead !

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swheeler89
Oct 31, 2019

The power of story goes a long ways in breaking the stigma of addiction. Wonderfully told and researched. Similar to Dreamland, but for me a slightly easier read. Would highly recommend to anyone who has a friend or family member who has struggled with the opioid epidemic.

a
awat1968
May 12, 2019

I found this a very good and informative read. I had no clue how our current crisis got its start. Since reading it I've seen the Sacklers on PBS because of all the lawsuits they're dealing with.
They deserve it!!

ArapahoeStaff15 Feb 27, 2019

An astonishing and unforgettable account of the American opioid crisis.

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dirtbag
Jan 27, 2019

The author did excellent work making this in-depth history of the American opioid crisis. In Vancouver's East End they are starting ongoing maintenance drug clinics and I couldn't see how that would help a drug crisis but it is fully explained in one of the chapters of this book. A good read.

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21288004246712
Jan 10, 2019

punishment versus treatment; fentanyl versus naloxone

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MaryJoSchifsky
Dec 27, 2018

Didn't know aversion to being dopesick is specific motivator for addicts to keep finding drugs and maintaining a consistent level in their systems.

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Erin80Reads
Sep 27, 2018

Erin80Reads thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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Erin80Reads
Sep 27, 2018

Macy, along with help from doctors, lawyers, the families of the addicted, and others, shines a very bright and very harsh light on the reality of opioid addiction in America. Every single page is fact-filled, and by the end of the first couple chapters, you'll see the role big pharma has played in turning the opioid use in the United States into a full-blown epidemic. You'll discover how and why our current systems do not work, and you'll discover some of the amazing efforts taking place in small cities and towns (particularly in Appalachia) to help those who are addicted instead of punishing them.

You'll get to know families coping with addiction. Some of these people will remind you of a friend, a family member, or even a neighbor coping with addiction. These days, we all know someone who's addicted, and if you've ever found yourself wondering how or why - why people would choose a drug over a job, a spouse or even a child - this book will help you understand it just a little more clearly.

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