“Dopesick” author speaks at UVa-Wise

Beth Macy made an appearance at The University of Virginia’s College at Wise Friday to discuss her book, “Dopesick”.

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The award-winning and New York Times-bestselling Roanoke Times reporter drew an audience of almost 100 to the college Chapel of All Faiths as she recounted her experiences writing “Dopesick”. The book details how the national opioid addiction crisis has struck home in Southwest Virginia.

The book follows the stories of victims and their families, as they have suffered the effects of addiction, from small towns to wealthy cities in suburban areas.

“The big picture as I see it, the opioid epidemic is festering and growing” Macy said. “It’s taking advantage of long-standing fissures in American society.”HC-11-08-18-Macy-1-DSC_0770

Macy shared statistics of how many people are affected by the opioid crisis, research of how long it takes a typical patient to reach sobriety and addresses how best to help a loved one suffering form addiction.

Macy said that drug overdose has overtaken the lives of over 300,000 American in the last 15 years and is going to match that number of people in the next five years.

Macy gave background to the stories in her book. She told the story of Tess Henry, a victim of addiction whose goal was to reach sobriety and regain custody of her son. She shared her memories of Henry, and Henry’s pride in the book.

“She’s so proud that she could help get the message out.” Macy said.

Macy showed the audience a necklace that Henry had given her. She shared the engraved quote that said, “I carry your heart in my heart,” and Macy said that represented how Henry felt about her son.

Macy recounted the story of Jesse Bolstridge, a published poet and football star. Macy described him as a “charismatic kid”. He succumbed to a heroin oHC-11-08-18-OxyContin-advertisement-DSC_0800verdose at age 19.

Macy spoke of conversations she had with Bolstridge’s mother, and how his mother did not understand how this had happened to her son.

“She knew that he had abused his Ritalin that he had been on since he was seven or eight,” Macy said. “She knew he had sports injuries. She didn’t know exactly when he became addicted to oxycodone. She knew if she could figure it out, maybe she could help other people from going down that same path.”HC-11-08-18-Sister-Beth-Davies-DSC_0874

Macy said it was then that she realized that these situations were more complicated and went beyond surface appearances. In her book, she interviewed the drug dealers and searched other sources of information on each case.

In a question-and-answer session after her presentation, some audience members brought “Dopesick” to life as they featured in Macy’s book or were involved in law enforcement, treatment or family issues related to opioid addiction. .

Sister Beth Davies, a Lee County native who has fought against Purdue Pharma, and to have OxyContin taken off shelves, drew the audience’s focus.

“No matter how many times a person goes back to using again, you don’t give up on them,” Davies said. “Because this is a chronic illness that is prone to relapse, so it takes a long time for a person to build up their life again.”

Asked by an audience member what her next project will be, Macy said that she would most likely continue writing about addiction because of the number of potential articles coming out of her work on “Dopesick.”.

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