"Crime was at historic lows, drug overdose deaths at record highs. A happy façade covered a disturbing reality."

I rarely recommend books in my main blogposts (that's what my recs are for!) but I had an absolutely fantastic time reading Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones and cannot recommend it enough.

Dreamland tells the true story of the ever-rising opiate epidemic afflicting various rural towns in the United States and how the addiction crisis managed to avert detection from local governments and police forces for nearly decades. As a former resident of Columbus, Ohio, I immediately became invested in the story when I identified Columbus as one of the afflicted towns.

Who or what are the culprits? Public misinformation? Effective pharmaceutical advertisement? Fiscal greed? I will refrain from delving into further detail to avoid spoilers. Instead, here are some of my favorite excerpts:

Tobacco, coca leaves, and other plants had evolved to be pleasurable and addictive to humans, Coop said. But the morphine molecule surpassed them in euphoric intensity. Then it exacted a mighty vengeance when a human dared to stop using it.

"This marketing technique was about that. They knew what they were doing. They were marketers."

"The way you're reimbursed in a day, if you actually take the time to treat somebody's pain, you'd be out of business," one longtime family doc told me. "By the model you're stuck in, you can't do it. The hospital will get rid of you. If you're by yourself, you can't pay for your secretary."

Thus with an addict's energy and single-mindedness, she said, [they] sought new markets with higher profit margins, awaiting the chance to go back home, the kings of their dreamland for a week or two.

Because this book is primarily a journalism piece navigating eyewitness accounts and thorough descriptions of historical events, it reads similar to a documentary. I realize that this kind of writing style is not for everyone but I still think it's worth a read. I rate this book an 8.0/10.