Dopesick

By: Beth Macy
Narrated by: Beth Macy
Length: 10 hrs and 16 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (2,160 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The only book to fully chart the devastating opioid crisis in America: An unforgettable portrait of the families and first responders on the front lines, from a New York Times best-selling author and journalist who has lived through it.

In this masterful work, Beth Macy takes us into the epicenter of America's 20-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 single dealer who lands in a small Virginia town and sets about turning high school football stars into heroin overdose statistics, Macy endeavors to answer a grieving mother's question - why her only son died - and comes away with a harrowing story of greed and need. From the introduction of OxyContin in 1996, Macy parses how America embraced a medical culture where overtreatment with painkillers became the norm. In some of the same distressed communities featured in her best-selling book Factory Man, the unemployed use painkillers both to numb the pain of joblessness and pay their bills, while privileged teens trade pills in cul-de-sacs, and even high school standouts fall prey to prostitution, jail, and death. 

Through unsparing, yet deeply human portraits of the families and first responders struggling to ameliorate this epidemic, each facet of the crisis comes into focus. In these politically fragmented times, Beth Macy shows, astonishingly, that the only thing that unites Americans across geographic and class lines is opioid drug abuse. But in a country unable to provide basic healthcare for all, Macy still finds reason to hope-and signs of the spirit and tenacity necessary in those facing addiction to build a better future for themselves and their families.

"Everyone should read Beth Macy's story of the American opioid epidemic." (Professor Anne C. Case, Professor Emeritus at Princeton University and Sir Angus Deaton, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics)

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2018 Beth Macy (P)2018 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Essential reading...Macy follows one specific drug through the range of problems it has caused, the people it has hurt, the difficulties in fighting it (with plenty of too little, too late) and the glimmers of hope that remain." (Janet Maslin, The New York Times)

"Dopesick will make you shudder with rage and weep with sympathy. Beth Macy's empathy and fearless reporting reaches beyond the headlines to tell the stories of how real people have been left to cope with the fallout of corporate greed, and the willful blindnesses of businesses and the government. Macy again shows why she's one of America's best non-fiction writers" (Brian Alexander, author of Glass House)

"Macy potently mixes statistics and hard data with tragic stories of individual sufferers, as well as those who love and attempt to treat them.... Macy's forceful and comprehensive overview makes clear the scale and complexity of America's opioid crisis." (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

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This book is BRUTAL.

oh I don’t know where to even start. This is a book about pharmaceuticals. The author spent one chapter talking about the history. There is literally no context. There’s no counter story. There’s nothing.

And the author reads it herself and it is UNLISTENABLE. there are dozens of grammar mistakes. Mispronunciations. And just flat out indiscernible parts of her speaking. If I didn’t know any better I’d assume she was running up the stairs the whole time she read it. There are entire sentence repeats where she messes up rereads it and just goes on. No editing.

131 people found this helpful

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Authors should stop narrating

I'm sure this is a good book with terrific information, but my brain could not process the author's monotone, un-nuanced rambling. After a few chapters, I realized I couldn't recount anything from the previous chapters and deemed the listen a waste of time.

55 people found this helpful

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Useful, but recommend Dreamland instead

Dopesick is good, interesting, and compelling. It is very focused on big pharma and individual stories, however. For a more comprehensive, investigative journalistic account, I recommend Dreamland, by Sam Quinones. Quinones not only tells the whole story of falsely-interpreted medical studies that led to the "statistics" used by big pharma to say that opiods weren't addictive; he also traces the production of heroin to Mexican villages and examines its distribution in the United States.
Beth Macy's book is getting a lot of press right now, and it's worthy of the press, but Sam Quinones published his book at the outset of this epidemic and gives a far more in-depth report of its complete takeover. I'm sorry he hasn't received as much attention for his good work.

Additionally, Beth Macy may be a good writer, but she is a terrible and distracting narrator. Stumbling over words, she sounds like an unrehearsed reader in church trying to read a Biblical passage with particularly unpronounceable family and place names.

194 people found this helpful

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Amazingly sad scary and informative.

I am one of those people who is caught in the middle. I need pain control. Do not abuse. Am extremely cautious and had meds cut because of others abuse this book showed the side I did not see. Have to say thank you for opening my eyes

60 people found this helpful

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Revealing insight!

This gives me a unique insight into the opioid epidemic. I'm an emergency nurse, and I've thought for a long time it was a matter of "Just say no". From this book I've learned it's not and realize I as a nurse am a part of the problem. I now want to align myself to be a part of the solution.

25 people found this helpful

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Extraordinarily useful for a parent of an addict.

As the parent of an adult addict I find myself in a constant search for how and why this mess started. When you go through years of struggle trying to save the life of your child knowing damn well that you'll likely fail, you want answers. I've found myself, more and more, searching out books that give history rather than books that I think will help. I can't save my child, but I want to know what we're going to do, as a country, to prevent this from spreading.

I applaud and want to thank the author for all her hard work. I think book should be a staple learning tool in high school, of not late middle school.

35 people found this helpful

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Required reading for all Americans

As a child of rural Ohio who moved away to the “big city”, I’m ashamed of my ignorance of the effects of opioids as explained in layman’s terms by the author. My own sibling has tangled with addiction, including opioids, for 20 years. This is the first journalistic study of the history of this plague and its devastation on middle America that I have read. The individual stories so vividly shared by the author clearly echoed tragic events from my own hometown (countless overdose deaths, kids being surrendered to the foster care system or elderly grandparents, family’s savings being spent on rehab after non-evidenced based rehab, crowded court dockets, meager rehabilitation resources, and prison sentences). Like the billboards currently peppering the highway roadside “Denial, Ohio is everywhere” (and clearly I have lived in some degree of willful ignorance concerning addiction for far too long!) The tragedies in this book are spread too far and wide to really comprehend. This story made me weep at my own ignorance and makes my heart tight with anger at the corporate greed and misguided public policies that continue to compound the problems of addiction and literally destroy the lives of my generation (and future generations). The despair of rural America really is difficult to grasp (even for someone who should know better). This book needs to be forced into the hands of every aspiring politician of any stripe and piled on the bookshelves of every public and school library across the nation. Opioids don’t just impact those that are addicted, they are not “someone else’s problem”, they are literally killing modern America across every race, class, and zip code. This book has made me angry and incredibly depressed. Thank you, Beth Macy for telling this terrible story.

16 people found this helpful

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Front line worker

As an emergency room nurse who sees the daily prescriptions for narcotics, the chronic pain patients, the addicted to narcotics patients, and the overdose patients...this is a book I hope reaches the general masses.

55 people found this helpful

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Thorough, incisive, compassionate

I began this book with some skepticism. I had just completed an intense study of books on drugs and addiction in preparation for leading a group at my church this fall, having read Mate, Quinones, Hari, Szalavitz, Onkret, Hart, and others, and I wondered if this book would be merely a rehash of those works, or worse, contradictory. I’m glad I decided to add this book to my list of resources. Dope Sick is up to date, with events and developments right up to 2018, including attitudes of the Trump administration. The author drives home the indispensable place harm reduction must have in the quest for solutions. The story builds to an emotional conclusion that left me deeply moved. I will be enthusiastically recommending this book as background reading to my study group.

55 people found this helpful

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Eye opening. Jaw dropping. Heart breaking. Game changing.

First a caveat. Beth Macy is a good friend of my family and me. I’m confident I would feel the same way about this book if I’d never met her.

I grew up in Wise County, VA, and have lived in Roanoke for 28 years now. Both of these communities factor enormously in the gripping, gritty reporting Macy does here. She’s always a brilliant story reteller, somehow able to get deeper into lives than most of us would be brave enough to consider. Her previous books — Factory Man and Truevine — prove this.

Dopesick is far deeper, rawer and more personal than I’m usually comfortable with. It has to be. The opioid and heroin crises that decimated my home towns came out of nowhere, like a tornado that has already razed the trailer park, yet is just now starting to make a sound. The pictures Dopesick paints are bleak and gray and grainy. If you’re a parent of a young person, you will question every conversation you ever had with your kids, every prescription med you made them swallow. And you will wonder how the hell we’ll ever get past this national emergency. You’ll cling to your people. You’ll lose some sleep. You’ll probably even tear up.

But mostly you’ll be grateful that people like Macy are telling this story. You’ll be amazed at how open some people are about their broken lives. If we’re going to defeat this monster, the battle surely starts here.

I know this sounds like hyperbole. It’s not. You’ll see.

A note about the audiobook. It’s read by the author. This can be a turnoff for some listeners. It’s not in this case. Beth’s is the voice you want breaking this news to you.

26 people found this helpful