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

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  20,899 ratings  ·  2,785 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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Nina Gordon Everyone should read this book, especially the pain management doctors who so readily dispense opioid meds for chronic pain. In NY State, our new atto…moreEveryone should read this book, especially the pain management doctors who so readily dispense opioid meds for chronic pain. In NY State, our new attorney general has initiated a lawsuit against Purdue for deceptive advertising; I hope she is successful. (less)

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Start your review of Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America
A problematic read for me. Yes, I know; awards and all that. But I honestly think the awards go to the fact that Macy made Oxycontin and heroin part of a national conversation, not because this book was exemplary journalism or writing.

Issue 1: Macy does not feel like a competent research or investigative journalist. Apparently, before the book-writing gig, her newspaper job was 'human interest' stories. I can so see that. And I am not the human interest kind of reader. Dopesick primarily focuse
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
Theresa Alan
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a well-researched nonfiction book about how the Sackler family of the privately-held company Purdue Pharma, their sales reps, unethical and misinformed doctors, our pitiful healthcare system that only helps some people, and our misguided law enforcement and incarceration laws created an opioid crisis that became a heroin crisis that led to overdosing becoming the leading cause of death for young Americans.

Our country needs to ensure that everyone has access to healthcare, including menta
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
Feb 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Dopesick is a semi-interesting book about the opioid epidemic in America. Ms. Macy follows many people and families over the course of 6 years and tells their stories in this book. I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more had the author narrowed it down to just a couple individuals and included more factual information on opioids and addiction. I felt the book was disjointed, due to there being so many different people written about, and the book jumps from one person to the next and back agai ...more
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
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
Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Reading this book is like a descent into the hell of addiction, the pharmaceutical companies that pushed drugs using doctored data, the doctors overdosing their patients, and the government that seems to pour money into trying to find a solution that doesn't seem to have one.

“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-
"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,
Julie Christine
A few weeks ago, a beloved member of my community—husband, father, celebrated musician—was found in his car in the hospital parking lot, unconscious. He'd been driven there by a drug dealer and abandoned after two attempts to revive him with Narcan failed. ER intervention was too late, as well. He was pronounced dead soon after he was admitted. Forty-three, dead of an overdose. The autopsy would reveal habitual opioid use.

Just one more casualty in the crisis that Beth Macy chronicles with aston
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
Jan 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-of-2019
Disheartening deep dive into the opioid crisis in America, from its inception twenty years ago via OxyContin prescriptions to today’s desperate consumption of heroin and synthetic opioids. Big Pharma and corporate greed play a huge role, as does public policy. Still, history is interesting and informative, but what is needed are solutions. I’m wondering if there are any, given that there is actually no “cure” for opioid addiction - it is a chronic lifelong condition that can be treated and manag ...more
Laurie  Anderson
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This astounding book should be read by every parent, politician, police officer, judge, and health care policy wonk in the country. It's eye-opening, devastating, and infuriating. The insights I most appreciated were the explanations of how opiates affect the addicts brain (which totally explains their decision-making process) and how doctors were bribed by Big Pharma to overprescribe opiates.

Highly recommended!
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is about the opioid crisis. It’s an extremely well-researched, comprehensive look at how it started, how it spread, and some of the lives it has affected/ destroyed/devastated. Another story about hardworking Americans being led to their demise by a greedy American corporation (that flat out did not care about the havoc it was unleashing), in this case Purdue Pharma. The facts within are devastatingly sad and often inconceivable. I need a few more days to put some quotes down, but I’m ...more
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
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
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
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

The fact that this one didn’t even make it to my “Currently Reading” list probably says everything that needs to be said about how much I enjoyed it. I picked this up during Nonfiction November as a challenge to myself to break away from my usual “nonfiction” selections which generally take form as comedic memoirs. I knew Dopesick had won a bunch of awards and I will admit I was hoping for a reading experience like I had with Evicted.
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
Jul 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Elle by: Natalie
This book was equal parts devastating and infuriating. Beth Macy has written a meticulous account of the opioid crisis our country has faced over the past two decades. Mostly localized to her native Virginia, Macy uses her investigative skills to trace back this epidemic to its roots and follow it to its inevitable, disastrous end. The casualties, measured in both deaths and lives completely shattered, are almost too large to comprehend. So while relaying important facts and statistics about add ...more
Aug 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
America ... please ... read ... this ... book.

I'm late to the party, and I'm not saying you're going to enjoy it, but ... in addition to being very well done, the book provides an important, valuable public service in opening eyes ... and, hopefully, hearts and minds ... to the scourge and the scale and the complexity and the abject horror of the nation's pain-killing (opiods ... oxycontin ... heroin ... fetanyl, you name it) epidemic.

If you've read or followed or are at least dimly aware of th
As author Beth Macy states, most of us know someone who has been affected by the opioid epidemic. For me, it is a nurse former co-worker, whose son died from a methadone overdose. And then there was my nurse friend, who lost her nursing license because she became addicted and started diverting patient medications. And also my brother-in-law’s brother, who went to prison because he was selling “pills.”

During the early to mid-eighties, I worked as a Licensed Practical Nurse and my job on a surgic
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
4.5 Stars

This book is just so shocking but at the same time a lot of it is not. I learned so much and it made me so angry and sad. There is a history of drug addiction with many members of my family and I found this book really hard to read. I seriously don't think many books have ever made me so angry. How much of this disaster could be avoided, and how easily it is for people to cross the line and justify their actions when money is involved. When I read all of the stuff that the drug companie
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
Peter Monn
Dec 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A slow start for me me but wow what a powerful book. My full review will be up on my booktube channel at ...more
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wow. Well, that was a real eye-opener for me. I've tended to see the opioid crisis from the perspective of compliant chronic pain patients, whose access to effective pain medication is increasingly restricted due to attempts to limit drug abuse. A close family member whose pain had previously been tolerably controlled is currently bedridden thanks to drug crisis driven medication cut-backs, and, reading here about the horrible abuse of fentanyl, I worry about future availability of a drug that p ...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
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“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.” 11 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.” 6 likes
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