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Fentanyl, Inc.: how rogue chemists are creating the deadliest wave of the opioid epidemic

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4.07  ·  Rating details ·  465 ratings  ·  98 reviews
A riveting and deeply human examination of the synthetic-drug epidemic — and in particular the rise of fentanyl, the newest and most deadly wave of the opioid crisis.

A new crop of chemicals is radically changing the recreational-drug landscape. Known as Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS), these chemicals include replacements for known drugs like cocaine, ecstasy,
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Paperback, 368 pages
Published October 1st 2019 by Scribe Publications (first published September 3rd 2019)
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Average rating 4.07  · 
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Science (Fiction) Nerd Mario
Until now at least the border controls and ever better satellite technology to find the growing regions could limit the dimension of the drug trade. I mean, except with meth and chemical drugs and... With this new, emerging production capacities, everyone willing everywhere on the planet will get capable of becoming a tiny version of Pablo Escobar.

Like all good books about organized crime that dig deep and show both the personal tragedies of all affected and integrated and the global dimension
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BlackOxford
What Marx Never Considered

The war on drugs is a war on global capitalism. Few want to make the connection, largely, I think, because it would make clear the futility of the effort. Westhoff sees how drugs and capitalism are related: “More than anything, this is a story of global capitalism run amok... if global capitalism is hard to control, the new-drugs trade is nearly impossible,” he says. But Westhoff then proceeds as if there were some hope in dealing with drug use as a problem of law
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Diane S ☔
Sep 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lor-2019, 5000-2019
A far reaching and impeccably researched book on our current opioid epidemic. I've heard of fentanyl, in fact I've heard of many of the drugs discussed within this book. What I didn't realize was how far reaching the drug problem is, not contained to just the US but so many other countries as well, from Sweden to New Zealand. Just how many designer, synthetic drugs are in existence, how for every drug made illegal, another is waiting to take its place.

This is a comprehensive view of the drug
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Max
Jul 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biology, net-galley
Very insightful book into the world of synthetic drug abuse. I administer drugs (fentanyl, oxycontin) to my patients at my work so I'm always interested in learning more about them. I never knew there was a whole different world out there with these drugs centered for recreational use instead of pain killing!

This book is pretty heavy on the facts and can be a little confusing with all of the drugs names. It's very interesting if you're interested in drugs and abuse, but don't pick it up if
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Gator
Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fentanyl, Inc. By Ben Westhoff published 2019.

This was exactly the type of book I was searching for. Since I am not in the drug culture I only know what I hear and what I hear often times is very confusing, especially when it comes to all the names of drugs that are in circulation. As most people who are kept busy with the daily grind I knew of the drug basics like weed, coke, H, meth, crack, LSD..... you know the things we’ve all heard about growing up in modern times. While in high school (I’
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Ben Westhoff
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
By far the best book I have ever written on this subject.
Rama
The Fentanyl Crisis

On April 15, 2016, on his way home after performing in Atlanta, pop entertainer Prince's plane made an emergency landing in Moline, Illinois. He was found unresponsive and taken to a local hospital. Six days later, he passed away. Toxicology reports revealed that an overdose of opioid Fentanyl caused his demise. In January 2015, Bailey Henke, an 18-year-old kid from Grand Forks. North Dakota overdosed himself to death causing deep sorrow and dolor for his parents. Opioid
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Mark Dunn
The West is not engaged in a Third Opium War with China. Unlike cigarette smokers drug abusers are wonderful people they are not morally deficient they are better than everybody else they are psychonauts. Harsh criminal drug laws only work in the third world countries. How many Americans flock to Indonesia or Russia to deal drugs? Other people's money should be used to make durg abuse safer and more comfortable and the drugs should be free. You have to go to college to be wrong about so many ...more
M  - The long hot spell
This is a fascinating book though it's heavy - with its message, it’s story and on information - so I read it bit by bit over a month. Though it’s called Fentanyl, Inc. the book covers more than just that. Fentanyl is a great focus because it hasbeen described by the DEA as “the serial killer of the drugworld”. No kidding. It’s potent - deadly in microscopic amounts- and it is turning up everywhere: In heroin, cocaine and even in pills made to look like prescription medications. The biggest ...more
Christina Dudley
Oct 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Yikes. Here's a fairly fast, informative, alarming read about the latest wave in addictive, possibly-deadly drugs. The most powerful mind-altering drugs on offer today are also the cheapest. Synthetic cannabinoids (who even knows how to spell that), synthetic opioids, fake ecstasy. Chemists around the world putting their minds to work and coming up with ways to enslave people. While the synthetics may have been originally pioneered in academic settings for the purposes of science and medicine, ...more
Holly
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My copy was an ARC from ALA Annual 2019 (June, so 3 months before publication). Because of this, the book wasn't 100% finished. That being said, I thought it was an awesome book. I have read many, many others on the opioid epidemic and this is just about the only one that focuses on fentanyl and the role that other countries play. This is not a person with substance abuse disorder or their family members bio. I would recommend to everyone.
Allie
Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book blew me away. It is so current with what is going on in the world. What I am seeing in the news daily about fentanyl laced cocaine overdoses, hits home with this book. Also, made me understand Trump’s trade war with China had to do with their illegal drug trade. Mind. Blown.
Lauren
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Required reading on NPS and their danger + power. Will return to write more later, but this was an excellent read to understand the true depth and horror that defines these deadly compounds as they enter and are produced in our country. Everyone should read this.

The new bioterrorism, and why it’s impossible to stop. This book also covers:

-role of international drugs cartels, Mexico, China, etc. in the overwhelming surge of fentanyl and other NPS in the US

-examples of sound policy that has saved
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Dan
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very informative. Learned a ton of things in this book.
Diane
Oct 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I attended Ben’s event at Politics and Prose and was really interested in learning more about the international politics behind the drug that took my sister Emily’s life. I didn’t expect to learn a lot about drugs when reading this, but I did. I had never heard of novel psychoactive substances (NPS) before this book and was truly fascinated by how much harm they can cause. This book really opened my eyes to the politics and business behind China manufacturing and selling the fentanyl that is ...more
Cynthia D
Jul 26, 2019 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
*** I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review ***

You like drugs? Public health? Policy? Politics? Interested in the current opioid epidemic? This is a good fit to itch those likes.

I was expecting a book more focused on personal stories of drug users and fentanyl, but what I got instead was an interesting telling of the drug situation not only in the United States but around the world as well. The history around designer drugs is told in length.

The international politics, especially
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Kristina
This was a bit of a slog to get through. I’ve read a few books now on the opioid crisis- some focusing more on the addiction and others on the drug trade itself. I was intrigued about this book because I thought it would focus on fentanyl which is invading the country and causing so much havoc. So I was sort of frustrated that this book sort of meandered off path a fair bit, focusing large swaths on the development of drugs slightly different in makeup in order to evade the law, and not just ...more
Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
looks at the Opioid crisis from the lens of synthetic labs that are producing fentanyl among other concoctions but fentanyl is the one that is killing huge numbers of people. Enforcement problems with fly by night labs and distribution networks popping up in the wake of the opioid crisis. Talks more about the networks than focusing on the toll. A large number of addicts is driving supply and while the networks are interesting they are ubiquitous and shapeshifting. I think a humane policy geared ...more
Melissa
A comprehensive look at the rise of fentanyl, fentanyl derivatives, and the myriad designer drugs/novel psychoactive substances that have come in their wake. This is the next step in the opioid crisis, since the street heroin addicts have turned to is often cut with varying and dangerous amounts of fentanyls, often with tragic results. Westhoff met with manufacturers in China, makers of safe-testing kits in Europe, and researched the Dark Web.
Gokulakrishnan Saravanan
Good informative book on synthetic drugs.
Biggest takeaway for me is war on drugs can never be won, at least the one on Novel Psychoactive Substances.
Would love to read Dreamland by Sam Quinones next, regarding opioids.
Elizabeth
Decent, if you haven't read much about the opioid crisis in the US. The author does get repetitive, especially about China and the chemicals/drugs that come from there.
Scribe Publications
This is an exceptionally useful and well-timed book. I hope anyone concerned about this era’s new addiction epidemic will read it and put its messages to use. Ben Westhoff very skilfully combines pharmacology, politics, law enforcement, and gripping international intrigue in his account of America’s number-one public health problem. I hope Fentanyl, Inc is widely read and influential.
James Fallows, award-winning journalist and author of China Airborne

A necessary and sobering look at the opioid
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Scribe Publications
This is an exceptionally useful and well-timed book. I hope anyone concerned about this era’s new addiction epidemic will read it and put its messages to use. Ben Westhoff very skilfully combines pharmacology, politics, law enforcement, and gripping international intrigue in his account of America’s number-one public health problem. I hope Fentanyl, Inc is widely read and influential.
James Fallows, award-winning journalist and author of China Airborne

A necessary and sobering look at the opioid
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David Ward
Fentanyl, Inc: How Rogue Chemists Are Creating the Deadliest Wave of the Opiod Epidemic by Ben Westhoff (Atlantic Monthly Press 2019) (362.293) (3401).

What a timely book! Some definitions are in order. Morphine and heroin are plant-based narcotics which are derived from a common flower. All plant-based narcotics are referred to as “opiates.” On the other hand, fentanyl is an incredibly powerful synthetic narcotic chemical compound which can only be created and produced in a chemistry laboratory.

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Darlene
Nov 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Timely expose of the crisis facing us all

Drugs have been around for ages. The author follows a winding trail through drug use history to the new chemically made synthetic drugs. Watch Live PD any weekend and you'll know just how deadly fentanyl can be. Various chemists, users and enforcement agencies are referenced in this timely and important book. I recommend every parent, teacher, law enforcement officer and doctor read this work and keep a copy handy. As he states, all of us will encounter
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Christine
interesting read, a lot of different view points on the drug crisis, from users to manufacturers, domestically vs. globally.
Sam Still Reading
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in knowing more about the opioid/drug epidemic
Recommended to Sam Still Reading by: sounded interesting
It’s no secret that I really enjoy medical non-fiction, but I really loved Fentanyl, Inc. I thought the way it looked at every aspect of the novel psychoactive substance trade was unique. From chemists manipulating chemical structures of precursors to fentanyl before countries can ban them, to the dealers, end users and those who want to change the way addiction is treated, Westhoff details it all.

The book is very well researched, right down to the trip Westhoff makes to China to see an NPS lab
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Jim
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Clear and concise reporting on an epidemic currently being ignored here in America. If you're curious about why so many are dying of overdoses, look no further than this book.
Kathy Jackson
Besides being totally depressing about the future of our country, some of the topics seem to repeat. About 3/4's in, I skipped to the end. The saddest proposal--that China is making Fentanyl to get back at the Western World for the Opium wars. UGH!
Infinity's  Bookshelf
This book was exactly what I was looking for in non-fiction. It mixed story-telling, statistics and investigative journalism in cohesive way that always made me want to learn more. The chapters were short and to the point and everything that was said was important or new so at no point did the book drag. I honestly devoured this book and it felt like I was reading a fiction book. I received my copy for free from NetGalley and my opinion of the book is not influenced by that fact.

The topic was
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Ben Westhoff's new book Fentanyl, Inc.: How Rogue Chemists Are Creating the Deadliest Wave of the Opioid Epidemic (Grove Atlantic) is the highly-acclaimed, bombshell first book about fentanyl, which is causing the worst drug crisis in American history. It has received glowing reviews, was included on many year-end best lists, and Westhoff was featured on NPR's Fresh Air and Joe Rogan's podcast. He

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“In recent years, some of the biggest new drug kingpins can't be successfully prosecuted. The Pablo Escobars of today are coming out of China, and they don't have to worry about being imprisoned by their government. They can operate free and in the clear, within the boundaries of their country's own laws. Whenever a deadly new drug is made illegal in China, manufacturers simply tweak its chemical structure and start producing a new drug that is still legal. Many fentanyl analogues and cannabinoids have been made this way.” 2 likes
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