February 8, 2022

The Least of Us: True Tales of America and Hope in the Time of Fentanyl and Meth, by Sam Quinones

 This one is by the bestselling author of Dreamland, which I have not read. 

The Least of Us: True Tales of America and Hope in the Time of Fentanyl and Meth
, by Sam Quinones

4 stars: Eye opening.

Quinones details the drug scene in America, from the early 2000's, where heroin and cocaine were the biggest drugs on the streets, to now, with the rise of meth. He also talks at length about the Mexican drug cartels and when they made the switch from farmed drugs, like opium to lab-made, synthetic drugs which encompasses fentanyl products and meth. 

Along with all of that, he shares personal stories from several people who have been affected by drugs, and what a few communities are doing to fight back.

* * * * *
Wow, this book really brought things to light that I did not know about. The picture it paints of America is sobering, to say the least. Depressing, even. Drugs and cartels and synthetic chemicals made in China and shipped to whoever wants to make their own drugs to sell from home. It's a lot. 

I'm glad I read it, though. This is happening. In my town, and in yours, whether the families being affected have broken through the shame to talk about it or not, it's happening. We're all seeing the aftermath of it--although it's not really aftermath, because it's ongoing. Just the havoc, I guess, is the better way to put it. Kids flooding foster care because parents are too doped up to take care of them. Homelessness exploding, drug overdoses killing more people than covid in the first half of 2020.

He doesn't just leave it there, though, which is the strength of this book. He shows a way forward. Communities coming together to treat addicts. Judges and policemen keeping them accountable and giving them the push towards sobriety. Safety nets in the form of counseling, rides, help finding jobs, and more, coming into play. 

Sometimes it's not enough. Drugs are strict taskmasters, and the new forms of meth and drugs mixed with fentanyl are worse than they've ever been: more potent, more addictive, more deadly, more brain-damaging. I felt a determination to find solutions. As he says several times in the book, (paraphrasing here), no longer can we wait for addicts to hit rock bottom to seek help. In these times, rock bottom is dead. 

Definitely not a light read, but an important one.

Content: A little bit of language, descriptions of drug abuse and violence.

 (February 2, 2022)

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