This Book Gives a Whole New Perspective on the Opioid Crisis

Okay, it's admittedly been a long time since I've posted a book review of any kind. I have been reading, I promise. But, with a new baby at home my energy towards reading about health-related topics has substantially decreased over the past several months. Apologies! To make up for it, I've got a fantastic book recommendation for the nurse practitioners and physician assistants out there who would like to get a little bit better understanding of the opioid crisis and its roots. 

I love a good movie or Netflix series about the drug trade - I find the economic, political, criminal and interpersonal aspects of the whole thing fascinating. And, I do treat my fair share of substance abusers in the emergency department which contributes to my desire to understand the industry. So, when I noticed my Audible app suggesting that I toss the book Dreamland  - The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones into my virtual shopping cart, I complied. 

In Dreamland, investigative journalist Sam Quinones examines the backstory of the opioid crisis from two perspectives. He looks at the overprescribing of pain medication in the 1990s when providers wrote prescriptions for addictive medications like OxyContin laying the foundation for today's epidemic. He also describes how black-tar heroin made its way from Mexico into the United States permeating our country's cities and towns and feeding these addictions. Black-tar heroin came primarily from a single Mexican province, Xalisco, where growers simply started producing heroin because it was easier to grow than sugar cane. Dealers also approached distribution differently than those associated with other drugs making the infiltration of heroin into the country difficult to pinpoint and stop. 

Dreamland moves back and forth between these stories - those of the professional, prescribing perspective and resulting opiate addicts to those of heroin growers in the villages of Xalisco and their distributors delivering heroin just like pizza. 

As a nurse practitioner, I hear a lot about the opioid crisis. In fact, I'm almost tired of hearing about the opioid crisis. Dreamland, however, augmented my perspective on the issue and helped me understand this problem our nation is facing at a whole new level. The book gave me sympathy for addicts and understanding towards dealers and growers. It shows the reader how a series of seemingly inconsequential decisions and bending the rules adds up over time. Most importantly, the book demonstrates how our actions as healthcare providers have significant consequences. Doing what's best, being informed and practicing responsibly should be our utmost focus to prevent another similar crisis and help reverse this one we're currently practicing in. 

What did you think of Dreamland?

 

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Comments

I recently got this title on Audible too and am looking forward to reading it. I ran across this story from the Emergency Medical Minute Podcast and an episode called Dreamland in Denver: Part VI which features a talk by author Sam Quinones. It is very interesting information and can give you a taste of what you’ll find in the book, here’s a link to the podcast:

https://emergencymedicalminute.com/page/3/

Paul S