Sam Quinones
Sam Quinones
Years spent researching a book detailing how the destructive path paved by opioid drugs got started and then ravaged America taught journalist Sam Quinones that it was people dedicated to fighting the epidemic, people seeing loved ones and family members sick and dying, who could turn the tide.

“The antidote,” he said Monday night, “is not naloxone. It’s community.”

Naloxone is a medication that, if administered in time, can reverse an opioid overdose. But it’s people working together, what some call a community with a continuum of care, that can ultimately stop the deaths.

Quinones spoke to a full house Monday night at Bloomington’s Buskirk-Chumley Theater about his 2015 book “Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic.” Centerstone, one of the local agencies immersed in fighting the prevalence of opioid-based drugs, from oxycontin to fentanyl, sponsored his talk.

He said pharmaceutical companies’ formulation of a strain of painkillers deemed non-addictive combined with a society demanding freedom from pain to create a crisis deemed a national epidemic.

The Los Angeles-based author’s thesis: capitalism fueled by greed prompted what he called “the deadliest drug epidemic we’ve ever had in the history of America,” a pain-management revolution rooted in the 1980s.

A decade later, doctors and pharmaceutical firms were devoted to the idea of using opioids that the makers sold as “virtually non-addictive,” harmless and effective at alleviating serious pain.
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