An Investigation Into The Opioid Epidemic


Chang journalists Beth Macy covered every facet of the opioid crisis as a reporter for the Roanoke times in Virginia She embedded with, addicts trying to get clean she followed families grieving after overdose deaths interviewed heroin dealer sifted. Through drug studies in court documents and now she's written a book based on that reporting, it's called dope sick in which she attempts to capture the sheer scale of the crisis we have lost three hundred thousand Americans in. The last fifteen years to drug overdose deaths and, we're going to lose that many and just the. Next five Macy traces the root of the current epidemic to the mid nineties that's one Purdue pharma debut the blockbuster drug Oxycontin which was aggressively marketed as an addiction free painkiller. It was the strongest, version of an opioid painkiller that had ever hit the market and because it was a twelve hour time release doctors were told that this is absolutely safe and patients. Were told this is absolutely. Say that addiction is quote, exquisitely, rare, as one Purdue officials said that turned out to be hollow promise as Macy's on her reporting Dependence on Oxycontin and other. Painkillers laid the, foundation for the current heroine epidemic, she begins her story with a teenager named, Jesse who made the jump from pills to heroin and, didn't make it out alive because wanting these rambunctious kids who rarely napped as a little. Boy he would fall asleep with toy still in his hands and early on they put, him on ADHD medication he also had some football and snowboarding injuries when he was fifteen and sixteen and was prescribed opioid painkillers then. His mother isn't exactly sure at what point he, became hooked at what point he realized he was. Dope sick but he knew he could trade his ADHD medicine for the opioid pills and one thing led to another when the pills got harder to get because of doctors cracking. Down on prescribing that's, when the heroine started coming in his mother Christy she asked you she said she wanted to know how he got to that place and that becomes Sort of your books underlying question how do you try to answer, a question like that well I just tried to listen to her in. Here what her concerns were I. Mean she asked me to go interview the drug dealer who had landed in her town a few months, before jesse's death and who had. Increased the supply of heroin in that town but our main question was how is, my gorgeous handsome charismatic son nineteen years old never missed a day of. Work even up until the moment he died had missed a day of work how does he end up overdosed. On someone else's bathroom floor and she says I. Thought, it was just. Pills and, I heard that over and over she thought it was, quote just pills What's compelling about this book is, you come at it from all sides, you spend hours with a drug. Dealer named Ronnie Jones who ran one of the largest heroin? Rings in the, mid Atlantic region how did you, coax Ronnie to open up to you. About why he did what, he did You have, a story, to tell to and I also interviewed, his brother who was a. Very successful rap recording artist and producer and you know. He had tried so many times to help Ronnie when he would get out of prison and jail from his former, incarceration stints and Ronnie just could never. He you know having this early felon on his record he can never go legit he tells me he tried to over and. Over again he tried to start his own business in this little town that he landed in to work in the chicken plant and no one would rent, to him. And he also is not quite willing to, take responsibility for the dust that his supply may have eventually caused. In that community that's what struck me when I. Was reading the section about Ronnie because he kind of rationalized his business. As providing a service that he was offering heroin discount price he was saving people that trip to Baltimore which which would be. Much more dangerous to be much more dangerous it was like he was doing something of value To the community is the way he looked at it he. Said my hair on doesn't have federal in it You know he was. Kind of proud of that but Ronnie story illustrates how. Little we do for felons trying to reenter our society we don't make it. Easy for them, to get, jobs they often come out and they only fines and he tries. To go, legit he ends up, you know he starts out selling weed again which he had been selling before but meanwhile, since, he's. Been imprisoned this opioid thing has exploded, and somebody tells him in the break room. Of Georgia's chicken hey man if you wanna make the real money you need to be bringing heroin in. Connection he starts bringing in it in bulk in, from Harlem. And overnight as as the prosecutors, still the story I think there's a little more, nuance than. This but overnight they say the town of Woodstock Virginia goes from having a? Handful of heroin? Users. Thomas hundreds what do you make of the federal government's response to the crisis so far under this administration yeah so President. Trump said he was going to declare a national emergency And several months ago he declared, something that sounded like a. National emergency but was actually a public health emergency which. Released no new funds are no new with authority and again with one hundred. And forty five, people a, day dying of this we need to as one person in the. Book says, with Zico we sent, helicopters we need to send helicopters and what I believe we need is more across the, board, access. To medication assisted treatment and which study, after study shows is the best way to. Help somebody with opioid use disorder prevent an overdose death and I realize there was so much disagreement about. What the what treatments should be I mean you, talk about. Buprenorphine for example which is an, opioid itself and how it could be effectively incorporated, into treatment. Programs but there's a lot of resistance to that why is that most of? The treatment centers? In. America believe in abstinence only care all the people that I was Following on the. Ground in Roanoke Virginia and elsewhere including Jesse my football player up in the Woodstock area they were all being sent. At great expense to their families to these very expensive abstinence only centers and when they get, out they're opioid naive, because they haven't been taking it and then when they relapse which most of them. Do that's, when they're the most, vulnerable to, overdose and die are you worried that the public and maybe even policymakers are reaching. A point of fatigue when it comes to. Stories about opiates the way the public has reached a, point of the, teak about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan I have to tell you I reached a point of. Fifty myself I, put a Google alert. On opioid epidemic when. I, first started working on this book, almost three years, ago and, there were so many articles I couldn't even. Read them all I mean there are scores of articles every day but they each of them only. Deal with a little piece of something going on right now and my goal. With this book was not, to just show you how, we got here and what it's gonna take to get. Out of it but also to inspire people to care and I really hope that that's what I've done that Macy is author of the new book dope sick thank you very very much joining us thank you so much also

Coming up next