The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 20

THE
GIST!

Bestselling author Beth Macy gives new details on her
upcoming release, as well as tips on reversing the trend of
opioid and heroin abuse.

N

EW YORK TIMES bestselling
author and journalist Beth Macy
first wrote about heroin in the
suburbs in 2012 for The Roanoke Times,
where she worked as a reporter for 25
years. After over two years of researching
the heroin epidemic, Macy has written
her third book called "Dopesick: Dealers,
Doctors, and the Drug Company that
Addicted America."
Based on her research, she says that the
heroin epidemic "was really seeded by the
OxyContin (opioid pill) epidemic, which
began in the rural hinterlands in the late
1990s and had the perfect-storm timing of
being aligned with the national 'Pain as the
Fifth Vital Sign' movement to treat (over
treat, actually) pain, which was also heavily
financed by the pharmaceutical industry."
A s opioid s b e c a me more e a si ly
accessible, addictions began to rise among
both rural and suburban teens and young
adults. The epidemic remained hidden due
to several factors.
"Problems among pill-taking teenagers
were easier to hide in pockets of affluence,
aided by greater access to cash and kept
quiet because of stigma and shame," Macy
says. "When this crisis hits a family, it's
like a tsunami. It wears people out. It
20

MAY/JUNE 2018

breaks some families apart. I can't say this
enough: it's devastating to families, and we
are basically leaving it to weary families to
deal with the worst drug epidemic in the
history of our nation."
M a c y t h i n k s t h at t h e m e d ic a l
community and legislative efforts have
worked to clamp down on overprescribing
but says that the two million people still
addicted nationwide need medicationassisted treatment, or MAT. She strongly
believes that better collaboration among
the disparate groups and stronger alliances
between criminal justice and health care
are necessary to solve the problem. Often,
they work at cross purposes. For instance,
she points out that Drug Courts in the
Roanoke region don't allow participants
to be on MAT.
An umbrella organization that "brings
the disparate stakeholders together has
worked with excellent results in the TriCities area of Tennessee, which I write
about near the end of my book," Macy
says. "We need real leadership, now more
than ever. We have 175 people a day dying
in America, the equivalent of a jetliner
crash, and leadership at every level has
been impotent in the face of it."
Individuals can also help reverse the

trend of opioid and heroin abuse. Macy
suggests the following:
*
"Rid your medicine cabinets of
opioid-containing medications.
Almost ever y addicted young
person I interviewed started out
with medication pilfered from
their parents' or grandparents'
medicine cabinets. One took a
job at a moving company with the
express purpose of stealing seniors'
medications.
*
Be a better medical advocate for
yourself. I had outpatient surgery
last spring and was sent home with
15 oxycodone. I took two the first
day then switched to Tylenol. Err
on the side of not-treating pain
with narcotics; too many lives
are ruined by patients who didn't
know to do that. You have to be
your own best advocate.
*
Get involved with Roanoke's
Hope Initiative, which seeks to
divert users from jail to treatment.
*
Educate yourself about medicationassisted treatment. Lobby elected
officials to do the same."
Macy's book "Dopesick: Dealers,
Doctors, and the Drug Company that
Addicted America" provides an in-depth
look at opioid and heroin addiction in
America. It releases in early August and
is available for pre-order on Amazon. I
-LAUR A WADE

TheRoanoker.com

BETH MACY: DAVID HUNGATE / DOPESICK: COURTESY OF BETH MACY

The Trend of Opioids


http://www.TheRoanoker.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Roanoker - May/June 2018

The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - Intro
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - Cover1
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - Cover2
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 3
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 4
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 5
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The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - Cover3
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - Cover4
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