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New York Bestselling Author, Beth Macy, Brings Powerful Message to Boone on February 28

On February 28, ASU Visiting Writers Series Welcomes Beth Macy, author of the recent New York Times bestseller, “DOPESICK: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America.”

By Sherrie Norris

As part of its Visiting Writers Series, on Thursday, Feb. 28, Appalachian State University will host Beth Macy, author of the recent New York Times bestseller “DOPESICK: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America.”

Macy’s book has been described as a “terrific, highly readable book about many facets of the opioid crisis in Appalachia and Southwest Virginia, in particular.”

Macy’s afternoon and evening presentations are scheduled for 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., with a strong community response expected, said Susan Weinberg, representing App State’s English Department/Creative Writing Dept., and the Visiting Writers Series.

In light of the current opioid crisis that is plaguing America — not excluding the High Country in destroying individual lives, families, hopes and dreams — it is Weinberg’s hope that Macy’s visit will resonate within our community.

“We feel very fortunate that during her national book tour — and as she is receiving national media attention — that Beth Macy has agreed to come to Boone. We know she is coming here because of where we are and that she really believes in the story she has to share.”

Often attracting people to the series mainly because they love reading, writing and literature, Weinberg said, her program sees Macy’s visit as an opportunity to expand its audience.

“She writes with a lot of heart and compassion . . . and we felt this is a way to help our community get the big picture of what is going on in Appalachia with the opioid crisis, how it came to be, how it’s kinda the product of drug companies and how it affects ordinary people when they get snagged by it all.”

Weinberg described Macy’s latest work as eye-opening, as well as compassionate, as she tells the stories of real people — parents and what they’ve gone through with their children, as well as those who are behind the crisis.

“She does such a great job in illuminating lives; she’s really good at bringing in a lot of facts and backgrounds, not just the current information and stats. She goes a great job of really weaving it all together for a deeper understanding of what we are facing.”

Weinberg calls it “amazing and shocking, at the same time, of how these quite, beautiful little towns up and down Interstate 81 and into the Shenandoah Valley have become a dealer’s mecca —and how people got into it through addiction and how it maintains itself.”

Weinberg hopes that the community will see it up close, and realize that it is a real story that is gripping, that the epidemic has been recognized and put into words — and that our families and addicts are not alone in their situation.

Weinberg described Macy as an award-winning author with a great reputation locally, known for her other books, including

“TrueVine,” “Factory Man” and others.

In a related segment, NPR recently reported: “There’s no shortage of statistics about the depth of America’s opioid epidemic — there were 72,000 overdose deaths just last year (2017) — but numbers don’t tell the whole story. Beth Macy takes a ground-level look at the crisis in “Dopesick,” a new book focusing on central Appalachia. Macy has spent three decades reporting on the region, focusing on social and economic trends and how they affect ordinary people — she says this area is the birthplace of the modern opioid epidemic.”

Between the Pages

“Dopesick” explores the lives of young heroin users and their long-suffering parents, and takes an intimate look at drug dealers and the cops, judges, doctors and health activists struggling to fight the epidemic. Macy also details the actions of executives of a pharmaceutical company that aggressively marketed opioids. Many users became addicted to drugs, such as OxyContin, when the medications were prescribed for pain, and moved to heroin when it became harder to get more pills.

Macy says she grew up with a father who was addicted to alcohol, which made addiction a particularly difficult subject to tackle.

“The only way I could stand to write this book was to write about the people fighting back . . .My goal was to mobilize people to care about this.”

According to Macy’s publicist, “DOPESICK: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America” is the only book to fully chart the opioid crisis, revealing how the epidemic has been permitted to fester and grow, after beginning in politically unimportant places with declining jobs (coal mining, furniture factories) — regions where pills have now become a way not only to numb legitimate pain but also a currency and livelihood: by selling them, people can pay their bills.

Furthermore, “Today, drug overdose is the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50, killing more people than guns or car accidents, at a rate higher than the H.I.V epidemic at its peak.

Statistics in communities hit hardest, like Appalachia, are even worse, with overdose mortality rates 65% higher than the rest of the nation.

“Macy profiles the real people touched by this national epidemic and those leading, as she puts it, ‘Dunkirk- like, grassroots efforts to stem the tide of death and despair.’

“Crucially, Macy also brings us fully into the present and confronts the future, considering the effects of proposed policies, surveying what remains systematically broken, and highlighting new approaches from across the US that show promise.

Based in Roanoke, Virginia for three decades, Macy’s reporting has won more than a dozen national awards, including a Nieman Fellowship for Journalism at Harvard, and the 2013 J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award. A former journalist for The Roanoke Times, Macy has appeared on CBS News, C-Span, PBS, NPR, and Fresh Air, in TIME Magazine, The New York Times, and other national outlets.

What Others are Saying About Beth Macy:

  • “Beth Macy is not satisfied with myths or side-bars. She seeks the very hearts of the people who are running the long marathons of struggle and survival of life. Dopesick is another deep — and deeply needed — look into the troubled soul of America.” —Tom Hanks
  • “Everyone should read Beth Macy’s story of the American opioid epidemic, of suffering, of heroism and stupidity, and of the corporate greed and regulatory failure that lies behind it. With compassion and humanity, Macy takes us into the lives of the victims, their families, law enforcement, and even some of the criminals. A great book!” — Anne C Case, Professor of Economics and Public Affairs, Emeritus at Princeton University and Sir Angus Deaton, FBA HonFRSE and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics.
  • “Macy’s conscientious reporting (affirming the story’s accuracy) and her vigorous storytelling make the saga of George and Willie Muse even more enthralling than fiction…Macy is especially adroit at placing the Muses’ story against a backdrop of myriad indignities and atrocities that were accepted as rigid customs in the racially segregated South of a century ago.”—USA Today

More About Macy’s Boone Visit:

  • Admission is free to both events on Feb. 28, which will be held at The Plemmons Student Union, second floor, Table Rock Room, 201B.
  • Macy’s books, published by Little, Brown and Company (1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY, littlebrown.com Hachette Book Group,) will be available at the event for sale and signing.
  • Parking in the library parking deck at College and Howard Streets (near First Baptist Church) is recommended for both events. Free parking will be available for community members for the 3:30 slot, if requests for same are emailed in advance to weinbergsc@appstate.edu.
  • After 5 p.m., all parking on campus is free; the library parking deck opens up at 5:30. (Not to be confused with the public Rivers Street Parking Deck).
  • To reach the Student Union from the parking deck, cross College Street and follow the walkway between the chiller plant and the University Bookstore, passing the post office and entering the Student Union on the second floor.
  • For further parking information or a map, see parking.appstate.edu.

The Visiting Writers Series is named in honor of Hughlene Bostian Frank (class of 1968), a 2013 Appalachian Alumni Association Outstanding Service Award recipient, past member of Appalachian’s Board of Trustees and ASU Foundation, and generous supporter of Appalachian State University.