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The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic
By Sam Quinones

Investigative journalist Sam Quinones looks at two phenomena — the overprescription of pain medication in the 1990s and the influx of black-tar heroin from Mexico to the United States — to explain how opiate addiction has come to plague hundreds of towns across the country. In the 1990s, many doctors freely prescribed powerful analgesics, including the highly addictive OxyContin, resulting in widespread pain-pill abuse. Black-tar heroin, delivered primarily by Mexican drug dealers from the municipality of Xalisco, was introduced around the same time and became a cheaper alternative with similar effects. Quinones weaves together the roles of a cast of characters, including pharmaceutical executives, narcotics investigators, recovered addicts and the dealers who set up a system that Quinones compares to pizza delivery.

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