Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic
By Sam Quinones
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David Heinemeier Hansson (Co-Founder/Basecamp)Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic accounts how a few tiny studies on low rates of opium addiction for hospital patients lead to a whole new paradigm for treating pain in the US. From mid 90s to late 2000s, opium pain pills were basically considered non-addictive by much of the medical community. This led to crazy over-prescription, subsequent addiction, and a whole new market for heroin once someone was hooked and couldn’t afford the pills. This heroin market was served in large parts by on-demand delivery services driven by small-town Mexican heroin cells. It’s really an interesting tale of medical hubris, corporate greed, the devastation of whole areas to addiction, and more. It could have used a lot more editing, though. So many phrases, “black-tar heroin delivered like pizza”, just keep repeating over and over again. But it’s a solid recount of how we got to this tragic point that opium overdoses is now a leading cause of death for many demographic groups in the US. More people die from drug overdoses than from car crashes now. Tragic.
From a small town in Mexico to the boardrooms of Big Pharma to main streets nationwide, an explosive and shocking account of addiction in the heartland of America.
In 1929, in the blue-collar city of Portsmouth, Ohio, a company built a swimming pool the size of a football field; named Dreamland, it became the vital center of the community. Now, addiction has devastated Portsmouth, as it has hundreds of small rural towns and suburbs across America--addiction like no other the country has ever faced. How that happened is the riveting story of Dreamland.
With a great reporter's narrative skill and the storytelling ability of a novelist, acclaimed journalist Sam Quinones weaves together two classic tales of capitalism run amok whose unintentional collision has been catastrophic. The unfettered prescribing of pain medications during the 1990s reached its peak in Purdue Pharma's campaign to market OxyContin, its new, expensive--extremely addictive--miracle painkiller. Meanwhile, a massive influx of black tar heroin--cheap, potent, and originating from one small county on Mexico's west coast, independent of any drug cartel--assaulted small town and mid-sized cities across the country, driven by a brilliant, almost unbeatable marketing and distribution system. Together these phenomena continue to lay waste to communities from Tennessee to Oregon, Indiana to New Mexico.
Introducing a memorable cast of characters--pharma pioneers, young Mexican entrepreneurs, narcotics investigators, survivors, and parents--Quinones shows how these tales fit together. Dreamland is a revelatory account of the corrosive threat facing America and its heartland.
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