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Dopesick

Written by: Beth Macy
Narrated by: Beth Macy
Series: Dopesick
Length: 10 hrs and 16 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (25 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Journalist Beth Macy's definitive account of America's opioid epidemic "masterfully interlaces stories of communities in crisis with dark histories of corporate greed and regulatory indifference" (New York Times) - from the boardroom to the courtroom and into the living rooms of Americans.

In this extraordinary work, Beth Macy takes us into the epicenter of a national drama that has unfolded over two decades. From the labs and marketing departments of big pharma to local doctor's offices; wealthy suburbs to distressed small communities in Central Appalachia; from distant cities to once-idyllic farm towns; the spread of opioid addiction follows a tortuous trajectory that illustrates how this 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 sets out to answer a grieving mother's question - why her only son died - and comes away with a gripping, unpausible story of greed and need. From the introduction of OxyContin in 1996, Macy investigates the powerful forces that led America's doctors and patients to embrace a medical culture where overtreatment with painkillers became the norm. In some of the same 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, compelling, and unforgettably humane portraits of families and first responders determined to ameliorate this epidemic, each facet of the crisis comes into focus. In these politically fragmented times, Beth Macy shows that one thing uniting Americans across geographic, partisan, and class lines is opioid drug abuse. But even in the midst of twin crises in drug abuse and healthcare, Macy finds reason to hope and ample signs of the spirit and tenacity that are helping the countless ordinary people ensnared by addiction build a better future for themselves, their families, and their communities. 

"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

What the critics say

"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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Great Book

Very well written and informative. Heartbreaking and terrifying. Definitely worth the read and would recommend.

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An incredible book with mind blowing facts

Thanks to the author for shining a light on this awful epidemic. The facts were interwoven through stories that humanized the issue we are dealing with in North America and how devastating it is to regular families.

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A narrative of tragic consequences of addiction

The so called 'war on drugs' is a 'war' that cannot and will never be won. This book goes a long way in confirming that assertion.

Aside from the individual stories throughout, there isn't much that is new if one follows current events and is aware of what goes on in one's neighbourhood. This point does not minimize the importance of this book. This is an important work that stands well against many others that cover the same general subject.

This is not a fun listen or read, but books of this nature are not intended to be. They are wake-up calls for all of us. Highly recommendable.

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Great

loved it.. u gotta listen.. it hits home with a scientific approach.. let's see what else she puts out

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  • tod
  • 2019-11-16

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.

154 people found this helpful

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  • Gail
  • 2019-10-29

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.

70 people found this helpful

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  • Sarah
  • 2018-08-27

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.

214 people found this helpful

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  • Roberta Rose
  • 2018-08-13

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

62 people found this helpful

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  • Michele
  • 2019-04-18

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.

29 people found this helpful

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  • Crystal Forbes
  • 2019-03-01

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.

19 people found this helpful

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  • Rachel M Rieken
  • 2018-08-13

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.

39 people found this helpful

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  • Danielle E
  • 2018-08-09

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.

60 people found this helpful

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  • Ned C. Armstrong
  • 2018-08-10

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.

58 people found this helpful

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  • Chris Henson
  • 2018-08-17

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.

29 people found this helpful