Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Six books for understanding America's drug crisis

Ben Westhoff is an award-winning investigative journalist who writes about culture, drugs, and poverty. His books are taught around the country and have been translated into languages all over the world.

His new book is Fentanyl, Inc.: How Rogue Chemists Are Creating the Deadliest Wave of the Opioid Epidemic.

At LitHub Westhoff tagged six books for understanding the American drug crisis, including:
Sam Quinones, Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic

Most of America’s heroin comes from Mexico, but until the 1990s the cartels mainly trafficked it to the major cities. This left major swaths of the US map up for grabs, and so small groups of traffickers fanned out around the United States to previously under-served markets like Nashville, Tennessee, and Boise, Idaho. Most of them came from the small Mexican county of Xalisco; they were a steady pipeline of young men coming to America with hopes of getting rich. Unlike traditional dealers, however, they weren’t armed, and the focus was on customer service. They handed out business cards at methadone clinics, and made home deliveries.

Quinones shows how the overprescription of opioid pills by American doctors opened up this market, and how law-abiding citizens turned to the Xalisco heroin dealers when their prescriptions ran out. Dreamland is a monumental work of reporting and analysis. At its heart, the book is about the effects of a single molecule so powerful it can produce both the greatest pleasure possible, and the greatest suffering.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue