Site icon Beth Macy

Dopesick Comes to the Small Screen

I’m Beth Macy, a journalist and the author of the 2018 New York Times-bestselling book, “DOPESICK: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America. A dramatized adaptation of the book was released by Hulu as an eight-episode limited series on October 13, 2021, and elsewhere in the world via Disney+ in early November. The series stars the amazing Micheal Keaton, Kaitlyn Dever, Rosario Dawson, Peter Sarsgaard, John Hoogenakker, and Michael Stuhlbarg. Shot on location in Virginia, including parts of Appalachia impacted by the crisis, Dopesick examines how one company, Purdue Pharma, triggered the worst drug epidemic in American history. Series creator Danny Strong directed episodes, as did Barry Levinson, Michael Cuesta, and Patricia Riggen. Along with Strong and others, I was a cowriter on episodes three and seven and an Executive Producer on the series.

For the book DOPESICK, I drew upon thirty years of reporting from southwest Virginia communities, as I did in my earlier books, FACTORY MAN and TRUEVINE. My journalism has long sought to bring attention to outsiders and underdogs — the largely voiceless people left behind by growing inequality, technology, and globalization. All of my books have been published by Little, Brown and Company. DOPESICK was my third bestseller, garnering positive reviews, and  radio and television coverage — including an interview on Fresh Air. It won the L.A. Times Book Prize for science and technology.

I am still covering the issue—writing about the settlements with opioid makers and the parents of the dead who have become unwitting activists. Raising Lazarus: Hope, Justice, and the Future of America’s Overdose Crisis, a followup to DOPESICK, will chronicle the struggle for hope and justice in America’s overdose crisis, and will publish in August 2022.

I wrote DOPESICK and RAISING LAZARUS the only way I knew how—by witnessing the epidemic’s landing in several communities over two decades and getting to know the people on the front lines, from harm-reduction workers to medical professionals and activists fighting for accountability. From distressed small communities in central Appalachia to wealthy suburbs, from disparate cities to once idyllic farm towns, it’s a heartbreaking trajectory that explains how the national crisis became so entrenched, claiming the lives of more than 1 million people since 1996.

Paper Girl

I parsed my evolution from papergirl to ink-stained author with Longform Podcast host Evan Ratliff: literally being the only female newspaper deliverer in my small Ohio hometown, where I learned to roam around talking (interviewing, really) all kinds of people. It’s still my favorite thing to do. Among my favorite essays is a 2021 New York Times piece about the rural-urban divide and about the fiercely loving and complicated relationship I had with my mom, a displaced factory worker who taught me feistiness, introduced me to libraries, and a love of home cooking and rescue dogs.


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