New York Times bestseller
Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Science & Technology
Shortlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction
A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of 2018
Finalist for the 2018 Kirkus Prize
Longlisted for the 800-CEO-Read Business Book Award
A Library Journal Best Books of the Year selection
One of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2018 in Nonfiction
A 2019 Audie Award Finalist for Best Narration in Nonfiction
A USA Today Pick
Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
An iBooks bestseller in Health, Mind & Body
An Entertainment Weekly Pick of the Month
An Amazon.com bestseller
A BookPage Top Pick of the Month
From the New York Times bestselling author of Factory Man comes the only book to fully chart the opioid crisis in America—an unforgettable portrait of the families and first responders on the front lines.
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.
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