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American Pain: How a Young Felon and His Ring of Doctors Unleashed America's Deadliest Drug Epidemic

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4.25  ·  Rating details ·  1,582 ratings  ·  230 reviews
Finalist for the Edgar® Award in Best Fact Crime.
Nominee for Foreword Reviews INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award in True Crime.
A New York Post Favorite Books of 2015 honoree.
A Suspense Magazine Best True Crime Books of 2015.
The king of the Florida pill mills was American Pain, a mega-clinic expressly created to serve addicts posing as patients. From a
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Kindle Edition, 321 pages
Published September 29th 2015 by Lyons Press (first published September 1st 2015)
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carol.
Nov 28, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of 60 Minutes
Shelves: non-fiction
Americans have a pain problem. As does healthcare. We might be at an impasse: patients and federal dollars both demand pain control, and yet narcotic deaths continue to exponentially rise, with most users reporting their gateway drug was a prescribed painkiller. Personally, I'm in the Dread Pirate Roberts school of philosophy: "Life is pain, Highness! Anyone who says differently is selling something." I do believe we are in pain, but I think instead of attempting to interpret the signals, we're trying to silence the ...more
Paquita Maria Sanchez
If you're ever wondering where the heroin resurgence came from, look no further than Purdue Pharma. Though this book's narrative is generally framed around a single mini-chain of pain-management clinics and their short years of operation, Temple pulls the subtleties of the narrative from all over the spectrum: from the Big Pharma campaign to rebrand opioid addiction as an exception rather than a fairly consistent rule, and recruit attractive reps to throw steak dinners and free oxy around all wh ...more
Ellen Gail
Feb 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
They had a license to deal drugs. No one was watching.
It couldn't be this easy, could it?



From the CDC, drug-overdose deaths from 2002 to 2014.

From late 2007 to the spring of 2010, Chris George, his twin brother Jeff, and his friend Derik Nolan ran a string of pain clinics in Florida and set off a wave of oxycodone prescribing, selling, and abuse that was entirely unprecedented. Together with several unscrupulous doctors, strippers, and homeless security guards, the story of American Pain (formerly South Florida Pain
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Amar Pai
Oct 21, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up-on
legal drug dealing is a topic of interest, and it's obscene how big pharma pushed sales of high power painkillers leading to heroin addiction when the pill heads realize it's cheaper/easier. obscene too how people in pain have to jump thru hoops now because of the backlash. you know where i stand: LEGALIZE IT. fiends gonna fiend and prohibition has been and continues to be a massive boondoggle ruining our police, filling up our prisons, and fueling an unending epidemic of torture murder and corr ...more
Andy Kozusko
Sep 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having navigated the waters of the pain world since someone severely injured my lower back (I now have an intrathecal Dilaudid pump), I was looking forward to this book. Plus, I enjoy investigative journalism. I started American Pain last week and could not put it down. Not only is it fascinating, provocative subject matter, it is information that all Americans should know about their "health care" system. It is written in the urgent style of Richard Preston (The Hot Zone) or the late David Halb ...more
Marcella Wigg
However you feel about drug policy in America, this book is pretty instructive about the regulatory and legal environment that allowed so many Americans to have continued access to, and thus deepen their addictions to, narcotics like OxyContin. The book centers around a specific case of especially egregious pill-pushing: American Pain, a notorious clinic operating in late-2000s Florida that was at one point the most prolific distributor of OxyContin in the U.S. Bizarrely, lack of regulation in F ...more
Judy
Aug 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
This is an important book. It chronicles a "pill mill" in Florida that in the absence of oversight, was able to hire willing physicians and distribute vast quantities of opiates and benzodiazepams. As a physician who vividly remembers a conference sponsored by our state attorney general, to inform us that pain was a vital sign and vastly under-treated, and opiates were safer than we knew, and now sees the end result of the opiate epidemic, I never knew that the DEA allows the drug companies to p ...more
Peter Mcloughlin
What if heroin was legal. What if you could use it for any ache or pain you wanted just by getting a script from a doctor. What if we called heroin Oxycodone. This thought experiment has been playing out in the US for twenty some odd years and it is known today as the opioid epidemic that claimed about 45 thousand lives in 2016 which is more than car accidents. This is more a true crime story about a pill mill in Florida that sells opioids freely and liberally to addicts than the opioid crisis a ...more
Claire
Oct 25, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Between 1998 and 2001, a cluster of nine counties on both sides of the Kentucky/West Virginia border received more prescription narcotics per capita than anywhere else in the country." This stat, carrying serious local implications, is only one of the many sad situations detailed in American Pain. The book is an easy read, explaining the growth of pill mills in Florida, the ease of access to opioids in America, the lack of concern of government and medical staff (big money in pharmaceutical com ...more
Amber
Sep 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Super interesting story specifically about the rise and fall of largest "pill mill" in the country but also more generally about the prescription opiod epidemic in the U.S. It was eye opening but also well written and a page turning story.
Book
Jul 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: social-science, drugs
American Pain: How a Young Felon and His Ring of Doctors Unleashed America’s Deadliest Drug Epidemic by John Temple

“American Pain” is an eye-opening account of the oxycodone drug epidemic in America. Author and professor John Temple, provides readers with a real American greed story as he follows the rise and fall of Chris George and Derik Nolan and their multi-million-pain management business. This insightful 321-page book includes eleven unnamed chapters broken out into three parts
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Hollee Temple
Aug 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I agree with Publishers Weekly: "This exhilarating blow-by-blow account details how brothers Chris and Jeff George and their sidekick, Derik Nolan, steroids-fueled collaborators with no prior medical experience, exploited Florida's lax prescription drug laws to operate the largest pain clinic in the United States, from 2008 until a raid brought it all crashing down in 2010. ... Journalism professor Temple (The Last Lawyer) dissects the Georges' criminal operation and documents the rise and fall ...more
Jennifer
An up-close look at one particular pill mill in Florida at the height of the prescription opioid crisis. The subtitle is maybe a bit of hyperbole, but the harm done by this one particular business is still heartbreakingly widespread. Worst of all, it was legal, at least until the crackdown, so the disingenuous attempts of the owners and doctors to shrug off accusations is hard to read about as well. Fascinating all around.
Ross
Dec 25, 2017 rated it did not like it
This was a mistake. I was looking for non-fiction coverage of opioid addiction and this was recommended to me by the library. The review did not make it clear it is just a crime novel, although it does deal with subject I am looking for actual real material on. I mistook it to be about real people.
NOTE: I AM AMENDING THIS REVIEW:
The author contacted me to say this work is non-fiction, written in the form of a novel. I still fail to see how the author could possibly know the level of
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Kimberly Dawn
Aug 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
American Pain is an award-winning true crime book. If you haven't read this yet, you're missing out on a truly unbelievable tale, a must read if you are at all interested in events that led to the addiction epidemic in our country. Not only is it one of the best true crime books I've read, it is even one of the best nonfiction books I've read. Better yet, the audiobook is excellent, narrated by Charlie Thurston. A great listen on what is behind the addiction epidemic and the untold suffering and ...more
Steve C
Sep 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reads like a novel. Colorful characters. But non-fiction. Quite disturbing too.
Charlene
Sep 03, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
How do I rate this book? Do I give it 5 stars because it read like a movie that kept me on the edge of my seat, informed me about pill mills, and was a page turner? Or do I give it one star because the author is racist? It isn't possible for me to give a good rating to someone who wrote one of the most racist statements I had ever read, without even qualifying the statement in any way. When talking about the delivery of pills to the clinic, the author stated a black guy (yes, "black guy") pulled ...more
Jen from Quebec :0)
I really liked this one! It was non-fiction, yet READ like a crazy suspense novel. Some of the persons and situations seemed 'larger than life' and I actually loved the narration. I had this book on Kindle AND also listened to the Audible audio version. Some ppl have complained about the narrator, stating he over-emphasized the Kentucky accents, but I am from Canada and wouldn't know if he did or not- in fact, I LIKED the different accents used in the book, it helped keep the settings straight. ...more
Sue Lundeen
May 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book about the beginning of the opioid crisis in America. I learned so much about the big players in this cultural phenomenon and how the were intertwined--fascinating. There is clearly not one "culprit" to blame, there are many....from pharmaceutical companies, to prescribers, to the dealers, to the addicted, etc and the list goes on and on. This is exactly why when Chris fractured his collar bone while snowboarding that I kept his painkillers in my bra at all times!! An addiction can ...more
W. Whalin
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Get Insight about the US Opioid Crisis

The stories of people’s lives destroyed using opioids are rampant throughout the country. How did such a crisis happen? I learned the details listening to this audiobook AMERICAN PAIN. Using well-written nonfiction storytelling, this book tells the story of how two Florida young men with zero medical background started one of the largest pain clinics in the country. The fact they could do it in such a short time seems horrifying but they hired do
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Diane
Jun 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
TRUE RATING 3.5

This book describes very important events surrounding the current opioid crisis in the US. It's definitely interesting and very well researched but the writing could be better. In view of how interesting the story is, I feel that the telling of it could have been done in a more compelling way. It's clear that one party in the story cooperated and he gets a lot of "air time," the problem is he's kind of dolt and isn't very interesting. Compared to something like Kurt Ei
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Meredith
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible
Interesting well written book about one of America’s largest pain clinics issuing prescriptions for OxyContin, the people who started and ran it, as well as the FBI investigation that brought it down. However it was published in 2015, by which time the Florida issued prescriptions had gone down, but the American prescription opioid epidemic is still on the rise. I would have liked to learn more about why the laws are so hard to change and why the DEA has increased the amount of oxy legally manuf ...more
Jeff Berman
Apr 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Traded sleep to finish this hard-to-believe-it’s-real story of how an ex-con, some flunkies, and doctors with stamps to speed up pain med scrips, built a massive business fueling the rise of America’s prescription opioid crisis - along with the government and policy making that enabled it - and the law enforcement officials who finally intervened. Reads like a great crime novel.
Monica
Jun 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting, highly recommend! Clearly written and easy to follow story about a particular pain clinic in South Florida's impact on the opioid epidemic and the eventual fall of that pain clinic/enterprise. Follows the rise and fall of American Pain and it's crew and the astonishing impact South Florida pill mills, and American Pain in particular had on the country (mostly Appalachia).
Katie
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Crazy story and very insightful into the current opioid crisis … sickened by how Purdue Pharma capitalized on their drugs even knowing the dangers and market ‘value’ of them. Agree that going to the source of the problem can be a start to reining in this crisis. Need to hold doctors accountable as well for over prescribing. A lot of crooks along the way for sure.
Elizabeth
American Pain discusses in detail pain clinics in Florida during 2008-2010. I had heard of pill mills, and I knew there were some definitely corrupt doctors out there and always has been. But I guess I just didn't know that there were clinics (hundreds, mind you) that opened with the mere reason of supplying anybody who wanted a prescription for any kind of pill. They were able to get these places to open because technically it was legal. How could it be illegal to prescribe people who claim the ...more
Rachel
It's true, I have read a lot of books about opioids and addiction. I'm quite fascinated by society's ills, and the opioid epidemic in the US has my attention. It is multi-layered and so difficult to pinpoint any single cause but yet it impacts so so many families. This particular book reads like a crime thriller and while I feel Dreamland paints a more macro and possibly complex view of the contemporary problem, I appreciated this book for a very micro view of a single network of pain clinics th ...more
Caitlin Morrissey
As someone who works in healthcare and sees pain problems everyday I found this book fascinating. It’s well written. The story is fascinating and makes it easy to understand how we as a nation ended up with the epidemic that we have seen grow over the past ten years.
Kristine
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best book I have read all year! I had no idea the depths of our pain management drug epidemic in America - all the players involved that enabled this to get so quickly out of hand, the lack of security measures at each step of the process that allowed for a pill mill to openly operation as a hugely profitable business, the loss of integrity...and the enormity of lives ruined.
Jennifer
Jan 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had just finished listening to Dreamland on audiobook, and this came recommended after I finished. It was the perfect way to take in both of them. Everything I learned in Dreamland was then continued in this book, which focuses on Florida's pain clinics and how they contributed to the opiate epidemic. The focus of this book is on a few individuals, and it's mind boggling the things they were able to accomplish "legally".

The one issue I had with the audiobook was the narrator - I found his por
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Around the Year i...: American Pain, by John Temple 1 14 Dec 24, 2017 09:26PM  

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John Temple is a veteran investigative journalist whose books illuminate significant issues in American life.
His forthcoming book, Up in Arms, details Cliven and Ammon Bundy's multiple standoffs with the federal government. It will appear in June 2019.
Temple’s last book, American Pain: How a Young Felon and His Ring of Doctors Unleashed America’s Deadliest Drug Epidemic, was named a Ne
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“problem-solution marketing. They would market and publicize the problem of untreated pain. Then they’d promote the solution: OxyContin.” 0 likes
“It didn’t mention that the “article” was a letter to the editor, published in 1980, and that its conclusions were based on a simple review of the charts of hospitalized patients, not a scientific study of long-term narcotic use. But the idea was out there, published in a scientific journal: Fewer than 1 percent of pain patients would develop addictions.” 0 likes
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