Beth Macy takes us into the heart of America's struggle with opioid addiction. From distressed small communities in Central Appalachia to wealthy suburbs and once-idyllic farm towns, this powerful and moving story illustrates how a national crisis became so firmly entrenched.
At the heart of the narrative is a large corporation, Purdue - whose owners are celebrated for their sponsorship of art galleries and museums - that targeted areas of the country already awash in painkillers and encouraged small town doctors to prescribe OxyContin, a highly addictive drug. Evidence of its capacity to enslave its users was suppressed. Macy tries to answer a grieving mother's question - why her only son died - and comes away with a harrowing story of greed and need.
Overtreatment with painkillers became the norm. In distressed communities of ex-miners and factory workers, the unemployed used painkillers both to numb the pain of joblessness and pay their bills. Macy’s portraits of the families, cops and doctors struggling to ameliorate this epidemic are unforgettable. But in a country unable to provide basic healthcare for all, Macy still finds reason to hope that there may be a decent future for people so abandoned by their political leaders. This is an essential book for anyone trying to understand the harrowing realities of Trump’s America.