Member-supported news for Southern California
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Support for KPCC comes from:

From OxyContin to heroin: Behind America’s deadly addiction

ST. JOHNSBURY, VT - FEBRUARY 06:   Drugs are prepared to shoot intravenously by a user addicted to heroin on February 6, 2014 in St. Johnsbury Vermont. Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin recently devoted his entire State of the State speech to the scourge of heroin. Heroin and other opiates have begun to devastate many communities in the Northeast and Midwest leading to a surge in fatal overdoses in a number of states. As prescription painkillers, such as the synthetic opiate OxyContin, become increasingly expensive and regulated, more and more Americans are turning to heroin to fight pain or to get high. Heroin, which has experienced a surge in production in places such as Afghanistan and parts of Central America, has a relatively inexpensive street price and provides a more powerful affect on the user. New York City police are currently investigating the death of the actor Philip Seymour Hoffman who was found dead last Sunday with a needle in his arm.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Drugs are prepared to shoot intravenously by a user addicted to heroin on February 6, 2014 in St. Johnsbury Vermont.

Heroin-related deaths tripled in the U.S. between 2010 and 2013, according to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Author and journalist Sam Quinones blames big pharma.

Heroin-related deaths tripled in the U.S. between 2010 and 2013, according to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Author and journalist Sam Quinones blames big pharma.

In his new book, “Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic,” Quinones exposes a troubling trend in the States. He theorizes that doctors, working closely with the producers of prescription opiates like Vicodin, OxyContin and morphine, have helped create a nation of addicts.

Though many drugs in the opioid family are prescribed for legitimate reasons, Quinones contends that there may be just as many that aren’t. When doctors work too closely with powerful drug corporations, he says that financial motivations lead many physicians to over-prescribe powerful pills.

Digging deeper into the issue, he links the deaths of suburban young men at the hands of black tar heroin to the doctors who enabled their addictions.

Guest:

Sam Quinones, author of “Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic” (Bloomsbury Press, 2015). He was a reporter for the Los Angeles Times from 2004 to 2014

Stay Connected