“Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic” by Sam Quinones

Recently, I was having a conversation with a client of ours in the medical community, discussing how good of a book Being Mortal was and that we recommended it to all of our clients. He had read it and said the topic of aging gracefully was one we all needed to face at some point in our lives. Then, not to be outdone, and recognizing that I was a parent of small children, he insisted that I read Dreamland because whether I liked it or not, the opiate epidemic in this country, and more specifically central Ohio was at some point going to affect me. At this moment, it is so severe that I will very likely come to know a family who has someone dealing with an opiate addiction. Drug addiction, built upon the efforts of Mexican drug cells? Doubtful. I live in Dublin, Ohio which by all standards is a dreamland. Families everywhere, soccer fields lined on Saturdays with kids running around without what seems a care in the world, highly ranked schools, and beautiful neighborhood after beautiful neighborhood. Dreamland opened my eyes wide and put a stain on that image.

Sam Quinones does a masterful job of weaving stories about our healthcare system, addiction, pill mills, the advent of the pain management specialty, big pharma, Mexican drug cells, and the fabric of Americana, our very own communities. Broken into small chapters, this book takes you from one story to the next, all while making you realize that something as simple as recovering from a small sports injury could lead someone to a life of addiction, if proper pain management oversight is not in place.

From OxyContin to Black Tar Heroin, drugs are affordable, and they no longer just reside in the “poor part of town.”

They are available to our children through somewhat unsuspecting channels. The book talks about kids from wealthy families purchasing drugs in their own affluent neighborhoods, then getting high behind a closed bedroom door.

If you don’t think this opiate topic is an epidemic, I challenge to you pay close attention to the news, both television and print, and your social media newsfeeds for a week and see if you can avoid the topic. It’s there, closer than any of us suspect. I encourage you to “open the bedroom door” and understand one of the most important threats your children will face.


Other Book Reviews by PDS

Being Mortal (Atul Gawande)

The Opposite of Spoiled (Ron Lieber)