Dreamland: The True Tail Of America's Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones
I grew up never really understanding the opiate epidemic. I remember hearing about various celebrities being addicted to pills & feeling disgusted with them. It was a weird time for me, one where I flat out couldn't grasp anyone being addicted to prescription drugs. I even remember in my early twenties going to the doctor due to limited mobility due to extreme pain in my elbow. Doctor after doctor couldn't figure out what was wrong (I just need exercise, I slowly started gentle weight training & it eventually disappeared, never to return more than twenty years later). Endless x-rays, MRI's, blood work, you name it. One doctor insisted it was rheumatoid arthritis. After that, by accident for TMJ (Temporal Mandibular Joint or TMD Temporal Mandibular Disorder), during an X-Ray it was noticed that I had an issue with my neck vertebrae (again in my early twenties - worst health ever in my early twenties & no, I wasn't fat, I was thin & got virtually no exercise whatsoever & ate the typical SAD (Standard American Diet) diet). I was sent to a neck doctor this wonderful man was trying to get me on pain pills. I told him repeatedly that my neck didn't bother me, that I didn't need pain pills (I already had a doctor prescribing me Celebrex for my "arthritis"). For some reason we ended the visit but both of us walking to the elevator together. It was in the elevator that this man told my young self after once again trying to get me on pain pills & after me refusing, again, that it wasn't like he could hold me down & force them down my throat. I'll never forget that as long as I shall live, I was stunned. Apparently he was one of the doctors of this book 'Dreamland'. A doctor who made lots of money pushing, ahem, prescribing pain pills unnecessarily to folks in minor (or in my case no) pain.
As the years progressed, I lost former High School friends to drug addiction, watched co-workers get pills when it was so obvious they didn't need them, lost my cousin who was not a distant cousin, but a young man who I cared for as an infant when I was a teen & who I was in touch with up until he died of an overdose. His story (not his specifically but others like him) is in this book. How he tried over & over & over & over to break it, but in the end he lost; my aunts only child, her miracle baby. She has yet to recover from the loss & I don't expect she ever will. The pain of it is crushing. I also lost a young, smart co-worker. She was found dead in the Burger King parking lot of an over dose. Beautiful & smart. Very early twenties. Dead.
I'm grateful to this book for so clearly showing the chain of events that lead to our current epidemic. Life experiences plus the additional information in this book has opened my eyes to the corruption & greed that I truly didn't know or understand was going on in America. It also clarifies the presidents statement that the illegal Mexican's are bringing in drugs to our country. Boy are they ever! This book explains how at first the drug problem was brushed aside. After all, we are talking about legal drugs, obtained legally! Once you see how it started, it is heartbreaking. Sure, not everyone has the personality to become an addict, & there are those who may fall in between who may have never fallen if not for a mislead (or corrupt, there are both after all) doctor.
If you were like myself, not really grasping or understanding the opiate epidemic, this is the book for you. The young adult adaptation makes it a very easy read & easy to understand. I read it in only three short days. Now I cannot forget it.
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