Raising Lazarus: Hope, Justice, and the Future of America's Overdose Crisis (Paperback)
A “deeply reported, deeply moving” (Patrick Radden Keefe) account of everyday heroes fighting on the front lines of the overdose crisis, from the New York Times bestselling author of Dopesick (inspiration for the Peabody Award-winning Hulu limited series) and Factory Man.
Nearly a decade into the second wave of America's overdose crisis, pharmaceutical companies have yet to answer for the harms they created. As pending court battles against opioid makers, distributors, and retailers drag on, addiction rates have soared to record-breaking levels during the COVID pandemic, illustrating the critical need for leadership, urgency, and change. Meanwhile, there is scant consensus between law enforcement and medical leaders, nor an understanding of how to truly scale the programs that are out there, working at the ragged edge of capacity and actually saving lives.
Distilling this massive, unprecedented national health crisis down to its character-driven emotional core as only she can, Beth Macy takes us into the country’s hardest hit places to witness the devastating personal costs that one-third of America's families are now being forced to shoulder. Here we meet the ordinary people fighting for the least of us with the fewest resources, from harm reductionists risking arrest to bring lifesaving care to the homeless and addicted to the activists and bereaved families pushing to hold Purdue and the Sackler family accountable. These heroes come from all walks of life; what they have in common is an up-close and personal understanding of addiction that refuses to stigmatize—and therefore abandon—people who use drugs, as big pharma execs and many politicians are all too ready to do.
Like the treatment innovators she profiles, Beth Macy meets the opioid crisis where it is—not where we think it should be or wish it was. Bearing witness with clear eyes, intrepid curiosity, and unfailing empathy, she brings us the crucial next installment in the story of the defining disaster of our era, one that touches every single one of us, whether directly or indirectly. A complex story of public health, big pharma, dark money, politics, race, and class that is by turns harrowing and heartening, infuriating and inspiring, Raising Lazarus is a must-read for all Americans.
About the Author
Beth Macy is a Virginia-based journalist, the author of Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America, and an executive producer and cowriter on Hulu’s Peabody Award-winning “Dopesick” series.
“When the Covid epidemic seized the headlines, America's overdose epidemic did not go away; in fact, it intensified. Beth Macy is one of the great chroniclers of how we got here and where we are headed. RAISING LAZARUS is a necessary companion to the urgent story she told in DOPESICK, a deeply reported, deeply moving, boots on the ground picture of what the crisis of addiction is doing to our country, and of the activists and ordinary people who are working to fight it. In that respect, this is a surprisingly hopeful book, the tale of a catastrophic crisis, but also of profound compassion and the resilience of the human spirit.”
—Patrick Radden Keefe, bestselling author of Empire of Pain
"As if we needed one more reminder of Beth Macy's phenomenal narrative journalism, RAISING LAZARUS takes us to the front lines of the fight for the nation's health. Macy finds unfamiliar heroes in places most of us would lack the will or imagination to explore. It is Macy's commitment to defamiliarizing the opioid epidemic that has, strangely and thankfully, helped so many Americans understand that none of our families are alone in this brutally pervasive fight for our lives."—Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy
"Macy brings her empathetic reporter's craft to the oft-ignored problem solvers on the ground---those who, as Macy writes, didn't wait around for justice. Macy didn't either. Unlike so many laws, court decisions, and news stories, Raising Lazarus does right by the victims of the opioid crisis"—Sarah Smarsh, New York Times bestselling author of Heartland
“Macy’s gripping follow-up to the mega-bestselling Dopesick…turns the lens to the fight for justice, from the prosecution of the Sackler family to the reformers pioneering innovative treatments for the afflicted. Enlightening and exhaustive, it’s at once a damning exposé about greed and a moving paean to the power of community activism.”—ESQUIRE (20 Best Books of Summer)
"Raising Lazarus confirms Beth Macy’s status as America's nonfiction laureate of the opioid crisis. This book is a force of inspiration that will make you believe not in miracles but in work – the sheer innovative, determined, empathic work of ordinary Americans. They are shifting the rightful place of shame from drug users to drugmakers."—Evan Osnos, New York Times bestselling author of Wildland
“If Dopesick illuminated the hidden world of opioid addiction, Raising Lazarus puts it under a microscope, showing us what we can do socially, politically, and personally to curb it. It is a book of profound human connection, filled with stories of those determined to save their communities no matter the cost. Macy refuses to let us look away from this urgent, Sisyphean task. Raising Lazarus is humbling, dazzling and infused with hope. Beth Macy is, quite literally, a life saver.”—Rachel Louise Snyder, author of No Visible Bruises
“Beth Macy has done it again. Her clear-sighted, deeply humane reporting takes readers to the front lines of the opioid crisis, where a grassroots network of brave activists work to defy stigma, save lives and hold power to account in the long shadow of the Sackler dynasty. This is potent, essential storytelling and a much-needed reminder of our common humanity that points, ultimately, towards hope.”—Jessica Bruder, author of Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century
“Beth Macy is America’s indispensable guide to the opioid epidemic. She brings great humanity and unparalleled storytelling to her work. Through her, the horrors of opioids are better known but, as this update makes clear, the suffering goes on. We owe her a great debt.”—Anne Case and Angus Deaton, New York Times bestselling authors of Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism
“This essential book is a beautifully crafted work of nonfiction literature, propelled by fierce compassion and a yearning for justice. Beth Macy has an extraordinary gift for encapsulating our nation’s greatest challenges in gripping, intimate, and wise stories of everyday American struggles. RAISING LAZARUS is at once an unblinking and masterful diagnosis of the root causes of our historic overdose crisis and an inspiring and hopeful call to action. Not to be missed."—Carl Erik Fisher, author of The Urge: Our History of Addiction
"Through brilliant prose and journalistic genius, Beth Macy once again opens our hearts and takes us inside the battle to end America’s overdose crisis. RAISING LAZARUS is a coming home story for many of us on the frontlines—a masterfully written, well researched, honest, and hopeful account like no other. Macy’s storytelling is unmatched and translates our experiences into a literary masterpiece—offering a prescriptive path forward to curb this national health crisis."
—Ryan Hampton, person in recovery from addiction, national advocate, and author of Unsettled and American Fix
“A profoundly disconcerting book that, with luck, will inspire reform to aid the dopesick and punish their suppliers.”—KIRKUS, Starred Review
“Macy excels at vivid, detailed depictions of the day-to-day struggles of dealing with addiction in several small towns in West Virginia, Indiana, and North Carolina during a period when those communities were also confronting the pandemic…Thoroughly engaged in the lives of her subjects, never dispassionate, Macy immerses readers in horrific reality while illuminating faint hints of hope.”—BOOKLIST, Starred Review
“Macy’s 2018 book, Dopesick, traced Purdue Pharma’s role in the opioid crisis. Here she focuses on the people fighting overdoses on the front lines — nurse practitioners, ministers — who refuse to stigmatize addiction.”
—THE NEW YORK TIMES, Best Books of August
“If you haven’t read or watched Beth Macy’s Dopesick, you should do both, then crack open this followup to find out what the relentless journalist has learned about how our country might stem the tide of a crisis that need never have happened.”—Bethanne Patrick, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES
“[A] deeply reported account of the dark forces at play behind America’s opioid crisis—this time focusing on the ordinary people fighting back against them.”—TIME, Best Books of August
“[Macy] turns her focus from the malfeasance of the Sacklers to the efforts of those butting up against state and local governments to fight the epidemic through harm reduction. She embeds with professionals and volunteers, many of whom have battled addiction themselves, all of whom face the Sisyphean task of getting addicts to embrace recovery, and the rest of the world to view addicts as human beings with an illness, not unlike cancer patients. They’re fortunate to have Macy on their side….Without sacrificing the integrity and shoe-leather reporting of true journalism, she’s also an advocate who has now dedicated several years of her life to reducing overdose death, one story at a time…There’s still no end in sight for the opioid crisis, but as long as Macy remains on the job, we can count on compassionate dispatches from the front lines.”—SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
“In RAISING LAZARUS, Macy…has moved on to an even more impenetrable question: How the hell do we extract ourselves from this quicksand? The new book represents Macy, one of the pre-eminent chroniclers of the nation’s opioid epidemic, at her full-bore fearless best. Heartsick and determined, she grills drug policy scholars and former drug czars alike. With her big heart affixed conspicuously to her sleeve, Macy introduces readers to people mired in addiction and to those who seek to help them.”—NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
"With her empathetic reporting and fearless fact-finding, Beth Macy reports on the opioid crisis like no other. Here, she brings a bit of hope after her devastating first book on the topic, Dopesick (which then became a popular Hulu series)."—CJ Lotz, GARDEN & GUN
* Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award* “Few works bring home the realities, the sadness, and the politics of the opioid crisis as well as this audiobook. Narrated with conviction by author Beth Macy, this firsthand account presents the victims and the unsung heroes who fight valiantly to help them and to bring about meaningful change in a system created for profit, not health. Macy’s performance hits every note, from the emotional torment that strikes families to the outrage against the companies and others that enable and facilitate it. Where this audiobook succeeds most is in Macy’s passionate portrayals of the ordinary people who are seeking justice for themselves and for future generations.”—AUDIOFILE MAGAZINE
“In her 2018 bestseller, Dopesick, Beth Macy presented a staggering picture of the opioid catastrophe that continues to upend lives and communities across America. In Raising Lazarus: Hope, Justice, and the Future of America's Overdose Crisis, she is back with a portrait of the compassionate and practical people who have stepped in to help stem the tens of thousands of drug deaths that still destroy families every year.”—THE WASHINGTON POST
“[Macy] trains her reporting onto the front lines of people who are actively working to save others from opioids. She follows aid workers, activists and grieving family members as they try to take down Big Pharma.”—THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, Timely Books with Hollywood Appeal
“Macy provides a nuanced history of drug use and treatment in America, examining racist, classist, and anti-immigrant policies—from the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914 to Nixon’s War on Drugs—that have led to almost 110,000 deaths from drug overdoses in the U.S."—Sarah Lawson, C-VILLE