Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America
By Beth Macy
Little, Brown and Company, 2018, 376 pp.
addiction: a compulsive, chronic, physiological or psychological need for a habit-forming substance, behavior, or activity having harmful physical, psychological, or social effects.
dopesick: slang for opiate withdrawal symptoms.
There’s all kinds of addictions out there, including gambling, shopping, eating, exercise, pornography, hoarding/collecting, video gaming, and, yes, even blogging. But some addictions are downright deadly.
We’ve all heard about the dramatic rise of heroin addiction in the U.S. In this book, investigative journalist, Beth Macy, takes a look at heroin abuse from the perspective of a few small towns in the Appalachia region of Virginia and West Virginia.
As the coal mines shut down and the manufacturing jobs in the region were shipped overseas, the unemployed workers of Appalachia increasingly drowned their miseries in opioids, both street heroin and doctor-prescribed Oxycodone.
Macy gives a short history of the medical use of opioids as a painkiller and focuses on pharmaceutical company, Purdue Pharma’s development of OxyContin in 1995 into a goldmine as well as a nationwide abuse problem. Many people who were prescribed OxyContin for pain became addicted and subsequently “graduated” to street heroin.
Macy follows several heroin addicts from “fix” to criminal activity in order to sustain the habit, to court, to jail/rehab (repeat cycle). Several of the individuals either died from the heroin or were victims of violence experienced while living homeless on the streets. The author crusades throughout the book for MAT (medication-assisted treatment), the use of alternative drugs to help addicts break their addiction cycle, but the use of MAT is controversial.
This was a sad and depressing book to read. Substance abuse and addiction is a dastardly business. I’ve had some experience with friends and family members who were addicted to alcohol. I also had a niece who died eight years ago from a drug overdose at the age of thirty-three.
People need salvation in Jesus Christ and God’s power to overcome all kinds of addictions in this world. However, sometimes even Christians can fall back into addiction. We must walk according to the Spirit and circumspectly lest we become entangled by the snares of this world.