Book Review #12: Dopesick by Beth Macy (2018)

Title: Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and The Drug Company That Addicted America
Author: Beth Macy
Published: 2018 (Back Bay Books, New York)
Pages: 400
Genres: Non-Fiction, Drug Crisis, Pharmaceutical Industry, Expose
Link Here

The book Dopesick lying on top of my laptop that I wrote this review on

*Warning: Review below contains potentially triggering information regarding drug use. Also, as described in the discussed book, “opioid” is used to describe multiple drugs with addictive properties not just the drug, opium*

Instead of normally checking a book out from the library, I decided to buy this book with a coupon I had from one of my favorite book stores in Phoenix. I heard good reviews before purchasing, and there was one of those employee recommendation cards attached to the shelf regarding it, so I was like why not? After finishing, this book was better for this time of year than I thought previously.

I have a close relative who is a drug addict, specifically uses heroin and benzos, and he’s been struggling a long time. I had a front row seat into witnessing the trials an addict goes through growing up and into my adulthood. To be clear, I don’t completely understand addiction, I am not an addict. But this does give me some insight going into the book Dopesick.

I’ve learned addiction becomes a family/community matter faster than other issues, because an addict doesn’t facilitate the addiction on their own. They rely on their friends, relatives, and other resources. And often abuse those relationships so they don’t become “dopesick”. According to this book, an addict doesn’t become an addict over-night, the problem began when drug companies sold a product no one expected to have the consequences that it did.

“Because there is no love you can throw on them, no hug big enough that will change the power of that drug; it is just beyond imagination how controlling and destructive it is.” – Beth Macy, Dopesick

The photo I use as a banner for this post is one I took of a real suburban neighborhood. I thought the image would be fitting for the suburban focus the book had. Surprisingly, I knew previously that drug addiction often begins in neat, middle to upper middle class suburban homes. From being prescribed pain pills due to a minor surgery, to looking for a good time in your parent’s medicine cabinet to impress your friends, drug addiction begins in numerous, and often surprising, ways. The epidemic is truly not being fought by the American government, but by individual families and neighborhood communities trying to cure a disease.

“But there is still only one treatment bed available for every five people trying to get into rehab, and at a cost far beyond the financial reach of most heroin users.” – Beth Macy, Dopesick

Dopesick is an expose and collaboration of stories and facts to understand the American opioid crisis. Numerous cases and legal trials are discussed to give the reader a greater understanding of what the opioid issue looks like in America. From the uselessness of imprisoning dealers and addicts, to how more money is spent in law enforcement stopping the drug network rather than helping addicts. If you, reader, are looking for a book about how this country deals with the opioid crisis, I recommend this one.

“Drug overdose had already taken the lives of 300,000 Americans over the past fifteen years, and experts now predicted that 300,000 more would die in only the next five. It is now the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of fifty, killing more people than guns or car accidents, at a rate higher than the HIV epidemic at its peak.” – Beth Macy, Dopesick

It is harder than anyone can imagine to see a close relative go through the motions of addiction. The problem does not seem real unless you witness it yourself or see a sickly-appearing relative lying in a hospital room or on the bathroom floor from what they put in their bodies. But honestly, I believe more people should be informed before the problem arrives on their doorstop or family. The last thing I have to say is to look out for your friends and family, especially those who are hurting this time of the year, because of the Holidays stressors.

To end on a more positive note, I hope everyone has a wonderful Holiday! Thank you always for reading.

Overall, I give this book a 4 out of 5.


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