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


An instant New York Times and indie bestseller, Dopesick is the only book to fully chart the devastating opioid crisis in America: "a harrowing, deeply compassionate dispatch from the heart of a national emergency" (New York Times) from a bestselling author and journalist who has lived through it

In this masterful work, 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 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 bestselling 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.

"An impressive feat of journalism, monumental in scope and urgent in its implications."--Jennifer Latson, The Boston Globe

About the Author


Beth Macy is the author of the widely acclaimed and bestselling books Truevine and Factory Man. Based in Roanoke, Virginia for three decades, her reporting has won more than a dozen national awards, including a Nieman Fellowship for Journalism at Harvard.

Praise For…


"A harrowing, deeply compassionate dispatch from the heart of a national emergency...a masterwork of narrative journalism, interlacing stories of communities in crisis with dark histories of corporate greed and regulatory indifference."—Jessica Bruder, New York Times Book Review

"Macy's harrowing account of the opioid epidemic in which hundreds of thousands have already died masterfully interlaces stories of communities in crisis with dark histories of corporate greed and regulatory indifference."—New York Times Book Review, Editors' Choice

"An impressive feat of journalism, monumental in scope and urgent in its implications...gritty and heartbreaking."—Jennifer Latson, The Boston Globe

"You've probably heard pieces of this story before, but in Dopesick we get something original: a page-turning explanation."—Matt McCarthy, USA Today

"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, New York Times

"Macy has waded into a public health morass that has also become a political minefield...Macy's strengths as a reporter are on full display when she talks to people, gaining the trust of chastened users, grieving families, exhausted medical workers and even a convicted heroin dealer, whose scheduled two-hour interview with the author ended up stretching to more than six hours."—Jennifer Szalai, New York Times

"Ms. Macy focuses on southern and western Virginia, though the lessons of her narrative apply broadly...Macy embedded herself in the lives of four heartsick families whose children's lives were ravaged--and sometimes lost--because of opioid addiction...for those new to the topic there is much to learn."—Dr. Sally Satel, Wall Street Journal

"Macy reports on the human carnage with respect and quiet compassion."—Gabriel Thompson, The San Francisco Chronicle

"Macy's book reveals a more complex truth of an epidemic that has been manufactured by the players of her subtitle."
John Warner, The Chicago Tribune


"Heartbreaking, exhaustively researched...a fierce indictment of racism, corporate greed and wily dealers...a terrifying, essential read."—People's Book of the Week

"Macy is a terrific reporter, scrupulous in detailing the significance of her findings...Dopesick's second section--filled with gut-wrenchingly candid interviews with addicts and their families--is the most essential, placing broken faces onto horrifying data sets."—David Canfield, Entertainment Weekly

"Macy's book doubles as a history and a call to action."—Inside the List, New York Times Book Review

"In Dopesick, journalist Beth Macy chronicles the crisis at large, and holds a mirror up to the pharmaceutical companies that are fueling it. Macy does exhaustive research for her books and it's encouraging that, despite all she's learned, she still has hope that our country can effectively combat this epidemic."—Amazon Book Review

"A ferocious piece of journalism distinguished by unyielding compassion."—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Beth Macy puts a human face on America's opioid crisis."—Christian Science Monitor

"Until I read Dopesick by journalist Beth Macy, I didn't grasp all of the factors that have combined to produce the present crisis...Although Macy's stories are set in Virginia, they could happen anywhere in the United States."—Susan Okie, The Washington Post

"Just as she did with her last book, Truevine, Macy is able to develop an intimacy with key individuals that allows her to understand and explain the hearfelt feelings of her characters...The end result is an on-the-ground survey of the crisis that explores it from both the head and the heart."—Paul Markowitz, The National Book Review

"Shifting effortlessly between the sociopolitical and the personal, Macy weaves a complex tale that unfolds with all the pace of a thriller, her deep journalism -- interviews with dealers, police officers, activists, local politicians as well as users and their families -- matched by a sense of barely suppressed anger at what is happening to communities like Roanoke, Virginia, where she has lived since 1989."—Sean O'Hagan, The Guardian

"A dogged and empathetic reporter on the ills of Appalachia (see her earlier Factory Man), Macy sets her roving eye on the victims and villains of the opioid crisis...Macy's approach is fresh in its humanity and its outlook, which is at once comprehensive and hyperlocal."—Boris Kachka, Vulture

"Dopesick follows the long chain of preventable, profit-driven human misery that is the opioid crisis."—The Approval Matrix, New York Magazine

"This book blends memoir and reportage, leaving nearly no stone unturned, looking at the opioid epidemic."—Book Riot

"The Roanoke, Va.-based writer tasked herself with unravelling a demonically complex issue, and Dopesick is both devastating and sprawling in scope. In part, it's a David-versus-Goliath narrative like her first book, Factory Man."—Macleans

"A sensitively written and rigorously reported book on the opioid epidemic"—Entertainment Weekly

"[Macy] brings a clear eye for journalistic detail and a searching humanity to her account of the people who turn to crime to avoid dopesickness...Dopesick will enrage you and bring you to tears, often on the same page.—Steve Mitchell, Lit South

"[a] masterful work."
Misty Hawkins, The Charleston Express


"Intensely researched stories about the opioid crisis have been trickling in for a few years, but truly comprehensive books on the topic have just started hitting bookshelves in the last few months. In Dopesick, journalist Beth Macy charts the epidemic in small communities in Central Appalachia, wealthy suburbs, and everywhere in between and details the insidious, indiscriminate effects of addiction."—Cristina Arreola, Bustle

"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

"Award-winning Virginia-based journalist Macy, author of best-sellers Factory Man (2014) and Truevine (2016), carefully constructs the through line from the mid-nineties introduction of the prescription painkiller OxyContin to the current U.S. opioid crisis... 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."—Booklist, Starred Review

"An urgent, eye-opening look at a problem that promises to grow much worse in the face of inaction and indifference."—Kirkus, Starred Review

"A comprehensive and thoroughly reported book."
Mackenzie Dawson, New York Post


"Macy is a masterful storyteller...Dopesick is a moving, must-read analysis of a national crisis"—Alice Cary, Bookpage

"In Dopesick, Macy brings clarity to what she describes as the 'perfect storm' that created one of the most pressing health emergencies the United States has ever faced...Woven throughout Macy's story is a riveting and heartbreaking human narrative"—Travis Lupick, LA Review of Books

"Combining her sharp journalistic skills with deep research, Macy dissects all of these causes and their ensuing disastrous effects, giving Dopesick ambitious scope."—B&N Review

"With both compassion and no-bull reporting, Roanaoke, Virginia-based journalist Beth Macy delivers the first book to completely chart America's current opioid crisis."—Garden and Gun

"It is difficult to imagine a deeper and more heartbreaking examination of America's opioid crisis than this new book by investigative reporter Beth Macy of Roanoke."—Jeff Debell, Roanoke Times

"Brilliant, harrowing, humane ... you feel her compassion for these people."—Bill Goldstein, NBC New York 4

"Beth Macy gives the opioid epidemic a human face, but not at the expense of historical and scientific context."—Plough Quarterly

"Dopesick is nonfiction, but it unfolds like a tragedy, in a place that receives little national attention outside of election years... accomplishes something American drug policy hasn't: It presents addicted persons as morally complex, fully formed human beings whose problems have medical and political solutions."—Sarah Jones, Democracy Journal

"A searing account of the U.S. opioid epidemic . . . what makes Macy's book so devastating are her intimate portraits of addicts and their tortured families, trapped in the cycle of addiction, recovery and relapse."—Shelf Awareness for Readers

"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."—Library Journal

"Macy's in-depth, personal portraits of those that have been lost, and the families members left behind, are both a gut punch and--beyond the righteous anger at those responsible--the heartbreaking beauty of the book."—800-CEO-READ

"Beth Macy writes about our opioid epidemic but Dopesick is not about the drugs. It's a book about kids and moms and neighbors and the people who try to save them. It's about shame and stigma and desperation. It's about bad policy, greed and corruption. It's a Greek tragedy with a chorus of teenage ghosts who know how to text but can't express how they feel."—Senator Tim Kaine

"Everyone should read Beth Macy's story of the American opioid epidemic, of suffering, of heroism and stupidity, and of the corporate greed and regulatory failure that lies behind it. With compassion and humanity, Macy takes us into the lives of the victims, their families, law enforcement, and even some of the criminals. A great book!"—Professor Anne C Case, Professor of Economics and Public Affairs, Emeritus at Princeton University and Sir Angus Deaton, FBA HonFRSE and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics

"She's a good journalist, and she tells this story in a way that implores you to care. In the pages of Dopesick, you'll meet mothers and their children, people like Kristi and Jesse, Janine and Bobby, Robin and Scott, Patricia and Tess. People I know...some are doctors or nurses. Your heart will break like mine has. Honest, rational, and respectful discussion of opioid addiction is an essential starting point for any successful effort to push back against it."
Nancy Howell Agee, Becker's Hospital Review and President of the American Hospital Assosiation


"It's a tragic story, beautifully told, but redemption comes in the heroic figures of patients, parents, judges, physicians, and prosecutors and others who did the right thing. Dopesick is the best exploration I have read of an epidemic that is very much with us."—Abraham Verghese, author of My Own Country and Cutting for Stone

"Beth Macy is not satisfied with myths or side-bars. She seeks the very hearts of the people who are running the long marathons of struggle and survival - of Life. Dopesick is another deep - and deeply needed - look into the troubled soul of America."—Tom Hanks

"I'm still in withdrawal from Dopesick, a harrowing journey through the history and contemporary hell-scape of drug addiction. Beth Macy brings a big heart, a sharp eye, and a powerful sense of place to the story of ordinary Americans in the grip of an extraordinary crisis."—Tony Horwitz, Pulitzer Prize winning author of the National bestseller Confederates in the Attic

"With the greatest compassion, Beth Macy plunges us into a world that deserves our knowing, filled with grieving mothers, cut-throat pharmaceutical executives, determined first-responders, and indifferent lawmakers. Radiating out from Appalachia, where the collision of poverty and pain created the ghoulish market for OxyContin, to the quiet addiction of suburbs and farming communities, you will recognize this world and weep for it. And then you will want to change it, because there can be no other response. Dopesick is both a tribute to those who lost and a fierce rebuke to those who took, and the new guidebook for understanding this quintessentially American crisis."—Elizabeth Catte, author of What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia

"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

"All prior books on this topic, including my own, were written as if describing the trunk, the ear, or the tail, without quite capturing the whole elephant. Journalist Beth Macy has packed the entire elephant and then some into one book. Her writing jumps from the page with a fast-paced narrative, colorful and inspiring characters, vivid historical detail, and a profound sense of place."—Anna Lembke, author of Drug Dealer, M.D., psychiatrist and professor of addiction medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine

The Week's Book of the Week


Praise for Truevine


A New York Times Notable Book of 2016

One of Janet Maslin's Top 10 Books of 2016 in the New York Times

One of The San Francisco Chronicle's Top Ten Books of 2016

One of the Best Books of 2016 - Amazon, Kirkus, The Tampa Bay Times, The Houston Chronicle, BookPage, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

A Kirkus Prize Finalist

Longlisted for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence

A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

"'It's the best story in town,' a colleague told Beth Macy decades ago, 'but no one has been able to get it.' She now has, with tenacity and sensitivity. She gives a singular sideshow its due, offering these 'Ambassadors from Mars' a remarkable, deeply affecting afterlife."—Stacy Schiff, author of The Witches

"This compelling account of one family's tragic exploitation provides an important lens through which America's tortured racial history and the cruel legacy of Jim Crow can be seen anew."—Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy and founder and director of the Equal Justice Initiative

"Taking us into the dark corners of American history that are discussed only in whispers, Beth Macy shines a bright light on the racial profiteering of circus freak shows and the Jim Crow South. In the remarkable Truevine, Macy manages to do what all the exploitative showmen wouldn't dare; she humanizes the Muse brothers, and in doing so, she has written an unforgettable story of both heartbreak and enduring love."—Gilbert King, author of Devil in the Grove

"A consummate chronicler of the American South spotlights the extraordinary history of two kidnapped African-American brothers enslaved as a circus sideshow act... Macy vividly illustrates circus life during the 1920s, and she movingly depicts how the brothers' protective, determined mother, Harriett, eventually discovered and rescued them almost a decade and a half later... A sturdy, passionate, and penetrating narrative. This first-rate journey into human trafficking, slavery, and familial bonding is an engrossing example of spirited, determined reportage."—Kirkus (starred)

"Macy's exploration of the long-hidden fate of two young African Americans and how that fate illuminates the atrocities of the Jim Crow South is as compelling as Rebecca Skloot's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks...both are absolutely stunning examples of narrative nonfiction at its best...Certain to be among the most memorable books of the year."—Connie Fletcher, Booklist (starred review)

"Beth Macy has a way of getting under the skin of American life, burrowing into the seemingly ordinary to find the weird and wonderful taproots of our society. This true tale from rural Virginia will enrage you, inspire you, make you shake your head and rear your fist. And as the pages keep turning, you'll feel yourself slipping into a gothic world of freaks and geeks, and surreal racial thinking, that seems both deeply strange and yet, sadly, all too familiar."—Hampton Sides, author of In the Kingdom of Ice, Blood and Thunder, and Americana

"If over a hundred years ago there had been Black Lives Matter, the mother of George and Willie Muse would have joined and marched for the safe return of her sons. Back then, almost a century ago, she could only keep learning and finding folk who agreed she had a right to her family...a right to the love and protection of her sons. Beth Macy in Truevine has given us a stirring story of the persistence of faith...the strength of love...in this tale of a mother's journey to reclaim not only her sons but her right to them."—Nikki Giovanni, poet and one of Oprah Winfrey's "Twenty-five Living Legends"

"Love and kinship impelled Harriet's family to try for a century to protect George and Willie...from a world that saw them as objects for exploitation. Macy, for her part, works hard to illuminate the brothers' story...Macy is a gifted storyteller and a dogged researcher, and readers will be riveted by her account of Harriet Muse's struggle to find her sons."—Edward E. Baptist, New York Times Book Review

"Expert...[Macy's] reportorial methods are inspiringly persistent (and [her] books certainly bear that out)...you can feel Ms. Macy's admiration wafting off the page."—Janet Maslin, New York Times

"The author's brightly written, richly detailed narrative not only illuminates globalization and the issue of offshoring, but succeeds brilliantly in conveying the human costs borne by low-income people displaced from a way of life.... A masterly feat of reporting."—Kirkus (starred review)

"Extraordinary... 'Truevine' is at once poignant and rigorous, a compassionate dual biography and a forthright examination of codified racism. Macy is a resourceful reporter and a strong but never showy writer... This book, her second after 'Factory Man,' is the work of a journalist whose persistence, empathy and commitment to accuracy can't be doubted.... 'Truevine may focus on events that began a century ago, but its guiding spirit couldn't be more urgent."—Kevin Canfield, The San Francisco Chronicle

"Expert...[Macy] has done [Willie Muse's] life justice in a riveting story that zigzags in unexpected directions...her enthusiasm never lags...even in the worst circumstances, Ms. Macy makes clear, the Muse brothers maintained their humanity."—Jeff Baker, The Wall Street Journal

"Macy's conscientious reporting (affirming the story's accuracy) and her vigorous storytelling make the saga of George and Willie Muse even more enthralling than fiction...Macy is as tender and solicitous in telling their stories as she is in recovering, in print, the dignity of a family broken apart by avarice and injustice."—Gene Seymour, USA Today

"Truevine serves as a primer about racial inequality that all Americans should read."—Marilyn Smith of Kepler's, Literary Hub

"Deeply reported and told with the kind of nuance and grace that define Macy's storytelling. I have been a fan for a long time...It's also just a remarkable story...Of a proud legacy, one that should be told, and thankfully, by a gifted writer."—Maria Carillo, The Houston Chronicle

"Macy earns a seat at the table of today's most accomplished nonfiction storytellers... The tale of Willie and George Muse makes for a spellbinding read."—Jeff Debell, Roanoke Times

"Laying out her decades of journalistic persistence, [Macy covers] the uncomfortable aftermath that followed the boys' heroic rescue by their mother."—Boris Kachka, Vulture

"You may find yourself wanting the tale of the Muse brothers to emerge as a simple tale of inhumanity and injustice. There's a certain satisfaction in that. But the story is too thorny and complicated for that approach, and Macy, whose last book was the New York Times bestseller 'Factory Man,' does us the favor of respecting that complexity."—Chris Vognar, The Dallas Morning News

"A fascinating history.... Macy puts their story into its larger historical context, giving the reader an understanding of the virulent, often violent racism of the Jim Crow era, which affected the Muse family deeply."—Colette Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times

"'Truevine' is dominated by delight and triumph. Macy is a fine Blue Ridge wit...She paints vivid portraits of wily, creative minds...In a timely way, "Truevine" explodes the presumption that moderns are less gullible than in an earlier era."—Jeff Calder, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Truevine...not only puts the real faces and lives of George and Willie to the legend, but also speaks to the ongoing struggle for racial justice in the United States."—Allison McNearney, Time

"A deeply moving and endlessly compelling book."—Alice Cary, BookPage

"An entertaining, provocative, often moving search for the truth about the brothers...Like "Factory Man," "Truevine" is rigorously researched and skillfully written...she provides rich detail about their lives...With empathetic storytelling, Macy raises questions about the brothers and their world, questions that persist. As we inch toward a forthright discussion of race in America brought on by police violence, Black Lives Matter, immigration and a mixed-race president, "Truevine" elicits self-examination."—Rob Walker, Richmond Times-Dispatch

"Deep in circus history, beneath racist lies and family secrets, [Macy] found a gripping tale of the cravenness of human nature--and the power of family."—People

An "impeccably reported tale"—Tina Jordan & Isabella Biedenharn, Entertainment Weekly

"[Macy] spent more than a decade following these trails in search of facts.... what finally emerged is not only riveting, but multi-layered."—Darrell Laurant, News & Advance

"Truevine is a moving attempt to reconstruct this David and Goliath story...If even "Eko and Iko" can be given back their stories, there might be hope for us all."—Julian Lucas, The New Republic

"A vivid and moving history that uncovers much more than exploitation and racism."—Randy Dotinga, Christian Science Monitor

"While it was clearly no picnic, Macy portrays life in a circus sideshow as a community experience that could provide emotional support, protection - and a living - to those who might otherwise have been ostracized or locked away."—Susan Linnee, StarTribune

"Macy's digging, and how she chronicles her effort to find the truth... make 'Truevine' a true mystery that provides insight into a long-gone world that still has echoes today."—Dale Singer, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Intriguing, enlightening and multi-layered... In so diligently and thoughtfully researching and writing this book, Macy has paid tribute to George, Willie and Harriet, and ensured their life stories have finally been accurately and fairly told."—Sharon Chisvin, Winnipeg Free Press

"An inarguable page-turner, Truevine is a fascinating and shocking account of Jim Crow's legacy and America's strange (and often brutal) past."—Dianca London, Lenny Letter

"An intimate, strange and compelling story with big characters and legal intrigue... Macy shares infinite details in smooth, brilliant storytelling."—Jennie Lay, Steamboat Today

"One of my favorite works of nonfiction of 2016...Macy nails it."—Vick Mickunas, WYSO "Book Nook"

"One of my favorite nonfiction books of the season...fascinating."—Joan Grenier, WAMC's "The Roundtable"

"A testament to the strength and determination of those whose lives were shaped by segregationist laws and the resulting deep poverty."—Bob Kustra, The Idaho Statesman

Praise for Factory Man

A New York Times Notable Book of 2014

One of Janet Maslin's Top 10 Books of 2014 in the New York Times

One of The Christian Science Monitor's Top 10 Nonfiction Books of 2014

One of Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2014: Nonfiction

"In a class with other runaway debuts like Laura Hillenbrand's "Seabiscuit" and Katherine Boo's "Behind the Beautiful Forevers": These nonfiction narratives are more stirring and dramatic than most novels. And Ms. Macy writes so vigorously that she hooks you instantly. You won't be putting this book down."—Janet Maslin, New York Times

"Nonfiction storytelling at its finest.... It does what the best business books should: It delivers a heavily researched, highly entertaining story, at the end of which you realize you've learned something.... This is a great American story, the kind that we don't read often enough."—Bryan Burrough, New York Times

"A truly remarkable work of researched narrative nonfiction, one the probes every corner of its topic and values every subject who has something to say.... Factory Man does justice to every hidden corner of the story. It's a book that leaves you feeling better for having read it."—Lucas Mann, San Francisco Chronicle

"A well-crafted and epic tale.... Artfully told."—Anna Lembke, author of Drug Dealer, M.D., psychiatrist and professor of addiction medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine, Marc Levinson, The Wall Street Journal
Product Details
ISBN: 9780316551243
ISBN-10: 0316551244
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: August 7th, 2018
Pages: 384
Language: English