Sam Quinones's new book is Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic.
From his interview with NPR Morning Edition host Renee Montagne:
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: ....Since 2001, the number of Americans who die annually from heroin has risen fivefold, according to the National Institutes of Health. The number of those who die each year from painkillers, like OxyContin, has more than doubled. In his new book, "Dreamland: The True Tale Of America's Opiate Epidemic," Sam Quinones chronicles this crisis. The title comes from a community pool in Portsmouth, Ohio, Dreamland it was called, the gathering place at the center of life in the town when America's Midwest epitomized prosperity and promise.--Marshal Zeringue
SAM QUINONES: That began to end with the deindustrialization of the Rust Belt, which Portsmouth is a part of - began to fall apart. Jobs began to leave. People began to leave. And finally, Dreamland is closed in 1993, and by about the mid-to-late 1990s, prescription pills are now everywhere. It's a widespread kind of addiction that affects an entire generation in the town of Portsmouth, Ohio.
MONTAGNE: Well, Portsmouth has a probably unhappy designation as the place where the biggest pill mill in the country operated.
QUINONES: Exactly. Portsmouth was the pill mill capital of America, really. They had more per capita in that town than anywhere else in the country. Pill mills are where a doctor prescribes pills for cash without almost any diagnosis of any pain problems or anything like that. Pill mills usually have long, long lines. Portsmouth had a dozen of these, and they prescribed millions of pills a year and was one of the main reasons why so many people got addicted there. The godfather of all that was...[read on, or listen to the interview]