Beth Macy One

New York Times best selling author, Beth Macy spoke to Longwood students about the importance of discussing the opioid crisis. 

Today, people are becoming more outspoken about their beliefs and exercising their American right to speak their minds.

Some people even make the most out of the strength of their voices by talking about the tough topics that others might not be willing or ready to openly discuss in public. For instance, the complex topic of substance abuse.

On Thursday Jan. 23, 2020, Virginia author Beth Macy spoke about the opioid crisis affecting families on a massive scale America. She was the second speaker in the President’s Lecture Series for the 2019-2020 school year.

The large audience in attendance included current students, alumni, faculty, and even people who more than likely are personally affected by this issue. 

Macy began by explaining how she has spoken about the opioid crisis many times and her New York Times bestselling book, Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America.

‘Dopesickness’ is a term used when a person who uses substances is going through withdrawal, having a sick feeling as a result. Macy’s book primarily focuses on families dealing with substance abuse issues and how drug companies are turning a blind eye and acting like these problems are not happening.

As a former reporter for The Roanoke Times, Macy uses her voice as both journalist and author to help address specific issues the opioid crisis in addition to helping those left behind with loved ones lost because of their drug abuse.

After all, the teenagers that are being given or giving out drugs are so much more than their problems with addiction.

Macy’s presentation also highlighted how they are human beings with parents, siblings, friends, and deconstructed the preconceived ideas that some people may have about those suffering from addiction.

When asked what about how the opioid crisis specifically made her decide to write a book, Macy mentioned, “The fact that life expectancy was going down and stigma, as well as losing more American lives on such a large scale, just the urgency of [the opioid crisis].”  

Another book that Macy wrote called Finding Tess: A Mother's Search for Answers in a Dopesick America revolves around a young woman named Tess Henry who was a friend of Macy’s that had substance abuse problems.

During the presentation, Macy played an audio clip of Henry comparing addiction to being chosen by the Dementors in the Harry Potter franchise; unfortunately, Tess Henry passed away in 2017. 

At first, one might think that drug abuse is specifically a crisis that occurs in large cities, but small rural towns, not unlike Farmville, have the same problems when it comes to drug abuse.

Beth Macy’s first book is titled Factory Man deals with the concept of businesses such as industrial factories closing in rural areas and what struggles happen to the people who worked in those places.

When it comes to the opioid crisis, Macy’s work takes a logical yet personal approach in terms of her writing and research. For example, her books will often focuses on families in small rural towns that face these issues.

As for the future, Beth Macy wants to concentrate on figuring out long term solutions for the opioid crisis in her next book.

The opioid crisis is a concept that has only been an open topic for discussion for  years now. Discussing harsher topics is becoming a more prominent role in casual conversation in society today, and this openness to address issues like the opioid crisis may serve as a stepping stone to understanding change, figuring out what solutions there are and how to achieve them properly. If you or someone you know is going through drug addiction, please speak out.  

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