If Dopesick devastated you, which I know it did, read this. Beth Macy is so incredibly talented when it comes to empathetic and compassionate writing that centers the human beings impacted by the opioid crisis. I really appreciated the updates since the last book, as well, as the Sacklers continue to get away with what they did. Negative reviews hone in on how political the book is, but I've got news for y'all — it's a political topic.
Received as an e ARC from NetGalley.
All I can say about this book is WOW! I loved Beth Macy's other book Dope Sick and and the tv show, this book does not disappoint. It is well written and well researched. I didn't want to pick up another after finishing this one as I wanted to savor it more. There is a lot of information to the point it can be quite overwhelming. Because of that, it is not a fast read. It takes some time to think about what you have read. I will admit that at times I was a little confused as the story jumped around. I with this type of book that it may not be possible to avoid that happening. The book is interesting and it is hard to find a community that hasn't been hit by the opioid crisis and Big Pharma and the cost of medication. The book offers suggestions for help and reviews some of the previous plans that have failed. It gives people hope for a future.
Very eye opening just like Dopesick was! I really enjoyed reading this! Very well written and descriptive! Love her writing style. She captures your attention and doesn’t let go!
"Americans are drowning in a lack of grace."
RIYL: Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty, Medicaid Expansion, Sarah Smarsh, HBO's Dopesick
I read Dopesick a couple of years ago during a slight obsessive period I had with the opioid crisis and so I was very interested in Beth Macy’s new book, Raising Lazarus. It seemed to be a continuation of her earlier book and I was excited to read more.
However, this book did not have the same effect on me. While it did continue to open my eyes to the crisis and realities of drug users, it also was very politically divisive and more critical than hopeful.
I completely agree that the stigma around drug users needs to change. It is completely normal to look down on drug users for their “weak mind” and even to wish them harm or misfortune by deciding they are getting what they deserve for their poor choices. It’s horrible to hear others comment about how a drug user should not be revived if they overdose. These are human lives, just like everyone else, and yet society and the system has abandoned them.
I myself have even been guilty of some of these sentiments before and it took me a lot of work to get to the place where I am today. I used to look at “junkies” with disdain but I’ve trained my brain to choose compassion first instead. I’ll admit the syringe exchange programs seemed ridiculous to me at first, as I’m sure many people do when they consider handing out needles to drug users. But knowing what I do about addiction now and based on the statistics Macy provides, I can see how offering this kind of care is a form of empathy not enabling. Every life is deserving of compassion and care and this book helps to reiterate that.
The parts I struggled with were the solutions. Macy acknowledges that some see universal healthcare as a form of socialism but she doesn’t offer any debate on the subject. There were no pros or cons listed to different approaches, just that we need blanket acceptance of this method, which I didn’t find very persuasive. Macy also blatantly refers to all Trump voters as racist and likens Trump supporters to uneducated people. I didn’t find this to be a very compassionate view of a large percentage of voters in 2016.
In addition, much of the book detailed the intricacies of the bankruptcy court that the Sacklers were in as a way of saving their fortune from settlements against Purdue, but I found much of this to be boring with no conclusion. High level, the Sacklers are cheating the system, but other than that the small details went over my head. I was much more interested in the personal stories of the harm reduction workers and the incredibly selfless work they are doing. While it is terribly difficult to imagine what they go through and disheartening to expect this to be sustainable, it made me hopeful that if people continue to put in this effort their impact will prove change has to be made. But I felt it to be more important to sway people who maybe don’t understand how it can be helpful, and I felt Macy was being too divisive to truly achieve that.
I felt like this book could be much more powerful than it was but I was only really interested in about half of it. I don’t know how hopeful it was but I guess that’s the point - things are looking bleak unless we turn them around. I wish Macy had offered more reasonable solutions that would be more agreeable to the naysayers. Rather than try to get them on board, Macy basically just dismissed them. But everyone needs to work together to fix a crisis and by writing them off I’m afraid she won’t do much to convince them.
Thanks to NetGalley and Little Brown and Company for an ARC of this book.
Raising Lazarus is Beth Macy's follow-up to her 2018 book Dopesick, which became a New York Times bestseller and was adapted into an Emmy-nominated TV series on Hulu. While Dopesick focuses on the origins of the opioid crisis, Raising Lazarus highlights the people on the ground who are working to treat its victims.
Putting her past as a veteran reporter to good use, Macy tails the harm reduction advocates and community workers that are on the frontline of the crisis, including nurses, clinicians, survivors, family members, and volunteers, who put their emotional and physical well-being on the line to help individuals suffering from opioid use disorder (OUD). The book is also a rallying cry to support effective treatment, not only in ultimately overcoming OUD, but in reducing harm along the way. This includes implementing needle exchange programs, NARCAN training, buprenorphine treatment, decriminalization, safe injection sites, and most importantly, universal access to affordable and reliable healthcare.
This book is just as intense as Macy's last book on the Opioid epidemic. She introduces us to new people who are fighting this war on a new drug that seems to be taking more and more every day. As usual Macy's writing style is a little all over the place, with subjects switching every paragraph before they finally all fit together after a few pages or so.
Raising Lazarus is a well-written and extensively researched follow-up to Dopesick. Recommended for fans of Empire of Pain, this book will (and should) make you angry all over again about the opioid crisis and our country's failures to get people the help they need.
In this follow up to her novel Dopesick, author Beth Macy uses this book to look at those who are still suffering from the opioid epidemic and those who are trying to find a solution. I enjoyed getting to hear these real and heartbreaking stories.
Thank you Little Brown & Company and NetGalley for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
For the better part of 2021 I DEVOURED any books I could on the opioid crisis. I've seen this crisis affect people first hand and instead of playing ignorant I was determined to understand it. Dopesick was the first book I picked up. Beth Macy's novel turned into a HULU show and I'm convinced it was her dedication to the topic that held the Sackler family's feet to the fire. As of March 2022, they owe 6 billion dollars in lawsuits.. but getting there was much harder than it should have been.
Raising Lazarus picks up where Dopesick left off. It was more of the WHAT'S NEXT of this crisis that is literally killing over 100,000 people a year. A YEAR. That number even higher with the COVID pandemic. The stigma around addiction is bad-- but figuring out how we TREAT this crisis is even harder. Macy literally follows people on the front line, people meeting those with this disease where they are: trailers, under bridges, parking lots.
I learned a lot from this book. I felt uncomfortable at times. It tested some of my beliefs on what we as citizens and what our government should be doing to curb the disaster that Oxycontin created for so many people. I highly, highly encourage everyone to pick up Dopesick/ or watch the movie. Then I challenge you to go outside your comfort zone and read Raising Lazarus.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Beth Macy brings you to the human side of addiction while challenging us to push for concrete and sustainable change. Highly recommend this nonfiction work to everyone and anyone.
Raising Lazarus follows the people with boots on the ground in the opioid crisis—the volunteers, advocates, families, and survivors fighting to save lives and heal broken and battered communities. Beth Macy digs deep into their struggles and reveals the terrible toll of the epidemic with a caring and compassionate lens. She also weaves the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic into her analysis of what can only be described as a destructive tsunami of overdose deaths and injuries. From the horrific loss of life and economic potential to reducing the nation’s average life expectancy, Macy demonstrates how no American is untouched by the crisis.
Macy chronicles in-depth the battle to hold the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma financially and morally responsible for their role in America’s opioid epidemic. So as much as Raising Lazarus addresses loss and suffering, it also follows a decades-long fight for justice and compensation and offers hope for those working to implement solutions like ethical health care, safe injection sites, harm reduction initiatives, and treatment options. Macy also examines the role race and white supremacy play in further harming and targeting already marginalized communities. Thankfully, Macy’s exposure of greed, power, and racism is balanced by examples of generosity, personal sacrifice, and grassroots and community activism.
As a Canadian, I wasn’t always familiar with the different agencies, counties, government structures etc., which made geopolitical context challenging to grasp at times. However, I saw this as a learning opportunity, and the writing rings true no matter where you are in the world. Raising Lazarus teaches us that the suffering of those living with Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) doesn’t care about borders and boundaries.
If you read Dopesick, you’ll want to pick this up for Macy’s 360-degree look at the opioid crisis. You don’t need to have read Dopesick, however, to appreciate the insights of Raising Lazarus. I’d recommend this for non-fiction readers interested in today’s most pressing social issues.
Thank you to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for the ARC.
Beth Macy has reported on the opiate epidemic through her successful book (which was made into a mini-series) Dopesick. In this volume, she reports on the harm reduction community and the people trying to make a difference in the lives of addicted people on the street and marginalized communities.
There are fewer anecdotes with drug users and their families than in Dopesick. In Raising Lazarus, much of the book is the story of prosecution of the Sacklers and insight into how they have managed to escape severe consequences from their marketing of OxyContin, and interviews with people who are dedicated to preventing additional overdoses by providing clean needles, health care, and options for those using drugs.
Very enlightening insight into the immense resources needed to begin to tackle the epidemic. Thanks to NetGalley for the eARC.