Reading time: 3 min

Over the years a handful of writers have taken on the arduous task of making sense of a crisis stealing more than a hundred lives each day. The American opioid addiction epidemic has left countless people in the field of medicine and Washington D.C. scratching their heads. While steps are underway to make it more challenging to acquire prescription opioids, prevent overdose, and provide greater access to treatment, this public health disaster we face has hardly let up.

In 1996, a new painkiller promised to provide relief without the risk of addiction, a drug that most people are familiar with at least by name—OxyContin. Now more than 20 years later, the impact of the so-called safe opioid is ever apparent. Individuals from all walks of life are now in the throes of addiction; and, while opioids are nothing new nor opioid use disorder, the country has never witnessed anything like what we are contending with today. One could argue that the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s –1990s pales in comparison.

Dopesick in America


Beth Macy (“Factory Man” and “Truevine”) has a new book that is timely, and relevant to the work we do here at Hope By The Sea. Titled “Dopesick,” Macy’s third book takes readers on a journey through the causes and effects of an epidemic comprised of more than 2 million people under siege by an opioid use disorder. And like any good book, “Dopesick” offers a glimmer of hope in the final chapters of the book in the way of addiction recovery.

Much of society is well within their right to cast aspersions toward doctors, pharmaceutical companies, and lawmakers for allowing prescription drugs to continue to bring more and more Americans to their knees. And, at the end of the day, such entities haven’t done enough to combat this most deadly epidemic. This chilling book shows, the medical industry was wise to OxyContin at the beginning and did very little short of line people’s pockets and make one excuse after another. A reality that is clearly seen in Macy’s powerful piece!

She introduces readers to Art Van Zee, M.D., who wrote letters to Purdue Pharma way back in 2000, The New York Times reports. He saw what was coming, an epidemic unprecedented in scale. Van Zee told Purdue, the maker of OxyContin, that their painkiller was devastating residents of Lee County, Virginia — that people in one of the state’s poorest counties are dying.

“My fear is that these are sentinel areas, just as San Francisco and New York were in the early years of H.I.V.,” wrote Van Zee. 

There is too much information and too many principal characters for a single blog post. What is essential is that books like Macy’s “Dopesick” force our society to have more conversations about stigma-busting, the effects of criminalizing drug use, and how we can provide enough support to bring millions of Americans back from the precipice of addiction.

If you are interested in reading “Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America,” please click here.

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

Hope By The Sea is fully equipped to help you or a loved one break free from addiction and can assist you in beginning a remarkable journey of recovery. Please reach out to us at any time to discuss treatment options or to learn more about our unique programs. Welcome home to Hope!