Macy, Beth. Dopesick: dealers, doctors, and the drug company that addicted America

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  • Author(s): Feigelman, W.
  • Source:
    CHOICE: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries. March, 2019, Vol. 56 Issue 7, p904, 1 p.


Booklist Reviews 2018 June #1

*Starred Review* Award-winning Virginia-based journalist Macy, author of best-sellers Factory Man (2014) and Truevine (2016), carefully constructs the through line from the midnineties introduction of the prescription painkiller OxyContin to the current U.S. opioid crisis: 300,000 deaths over the last 15 years, with that number predicted to double in the next 5. Its addictiveness initially far underreported, Oxy was outrageously marketed to doctors and overprescribed to patients, who quickly couldn't do without it. The much-later introduction of an abuse-resistant formula made heroin cheap and easily accessible, a natural next step. Macy's years of following the issue have earned her remarkable access to those suffering from opioid-addiction disorder as well as the people who tirelessly love and care for them and, in many cases, honor their memories. Again and again, she hears of the devotion the addicted claim to the drug, over every other aspect of their lives, and the motivating fear of "dopesickness," gutting withdrawal symptoms. And despite its proven long-term success, medication-assisted treatment remains stigmatized and often too difficult to access. Although the realities are devastating, the doctors, the bereaved, and the advocates Macy introduces do offer hope. Hers is a crucial and many-faceted look at a still-unfolding national crisis, making this a timely and necessary read. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

LJ Reviews 2018 March #2

New York Times best-selling author Macy (Factory Man; Truevine) starts with a drug dealer who set about hooking high school football stars in a small Virginia town, then moves to users, families, and first responders to show that America's opioid crisis is rooted in both greed and desperation. Addiction thrives on the pain engendered by unemployment and diminished opportunity in this country today. With a 100,000-copy first printing.

Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

LJ Reviews 2018 April #2

"Americans, representing 5 percent of the world's population, consume 80 percent of its opioids." Macy (Factory Man; Truevine) brings that statistic down to the personal level as she relates individual stories of OxyContin use in the United States, while also tracing its regulatory history and legal, medical, and social ramifications. The intertwined factors that have led to today's opioid epidemic play out in stories of health-care providers, patients, pharmaceutical companies, politicians, drug dealers, users, and family members. Starting with her own community of Roanoke, VA, Macy effectively shows how opioid abuse plays no favorites as it works its way into all socioeconomic levels, races, and ethnicities. The accounts of addicts and their families leave no doubt about the power the chemicals hold over the brains they alter. Addicts soon begin using to avoid the symptoms of withdrawal (dopesick) rather than gaining any pleasurable high. Controversies abound over what treatments work. Abstinence versus medication-assisted therapy is an ongoing debate, while profit motives and insurance problems are also factors. VERDICT Macy's use of current research by various experts makes clear how complex the opioid problem is, but the strength of this narrative comes from the people in the day-to-day battle.—Richard Maxwell, Porter Adventist Hosp. Lib., Denver

Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

PW Reviews 2018 June #2

Journalist Macy (Truevine) takes a hard and heartbreaking look at the cradle of the opioid addiction crisis, the Appalachian region of Virginia and nearby states. She places the responsibility for the epidemic squarely on Purdue Frederick, makers of OxyContin, and its sales division, Purdue Pharma, which engaged in near-predatory marketing practices to sell a drug that has wreaked havoc on the lives of 2.6 million Americans who are currently addicted, with more than 100 dying per day from opioid overdoses. In the first of three sections, she addresses "big pharma" in telling detail, outlining how the overprescribing of pain medication in doctors' offices and emergency rooms created a market demand that was then met by illegal drug peddlers on the streets. Section two follows the spiral of addiction as users of prescription pills no longer able to afford their habit turn to heroin, a cheaper and more lethal solution to feed their fix. In the last section, the author changes the focus to what has become an addiction treatment industry. Macy potently mixes statistics and hard data with tragic stories of individual sufferers, as well as those who love and attempt to treat them. One addict, Tess Henry, was just 26 when she was first interviewed by Macy and, despite multiple attempts at rehab so that she could raise her infant son, she was dead within three years. Macy's forceful and comprehensive overview makes clear the scale and complexity of America's opioid crisis. (Aug.)

Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.