As I lived through helping a loved one with opioid use disorder, then as I dealt with the grief of losing him, I’ve read many books about the opioid epidemic. This post outlines six books about opioid epidemic and some more generally about substance abuse.
Chasing the Scream, by Johann Hari
This was the first book about the opioid epidemic I read which made me think of my addict loved one as someone with a medical problem rather than someone with a behavior issue. I am grateful to the author for that. The non-fiction book focusses on the War on Drugs, how it has failed, and how it has harmed those who suffer from opioid use disorder and substance use disorder more generally. Johann Hari also did a great Ted Talk that summarizes theme of his book.
The book has a rating of 4.8 on Amazon (1.032 ratings) and 4.5 on Goodreads (10,549 ratings).
A Million Little Pieces, by James Frey
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is well-written and engaging. If you put aside the discussions about what is true and what is not true and view it as a work of fiction, rather than a memoir, it is a good read. It is not about the opioid epidemic, but rather one alcoholic man’s journey through rehab to recovery.
Its rating on Amazon is 4.0 (2,215 ratings), and its rating on Goodreads is 3.6 (208,478 ratings).
Everything Is Horrible and Beautiful, by Stephanie Wittels Wachs
Stephanie Wittels Wachs describes her experiences and feelings as she sees her brother, Harris Wittels, a successful comedian and television actor, become addicted and eventually die as another casualty of the opioid epidemic. While a dreadful story, I enjoyed following the author's journey of feelings from learning her brother has opioid use disorder, to trying to help him, to learning about his death, the grieving, to moving forward.
The Amazon rating is 4.8 (125 ratings) and the Goodreads rating is 4.3 (3,215 ratings).
Beautiful Boy, by David Sheff
The author describes his experiences as his son struggles with a meth addiction. The book is well-written and engaging. It gives a good example of what a father goes through who has an addicted son or daughter. It contains some unnecessary detail, however. Again, it is not directly related to the opioid epidemic, but the challenges for a father are the same whether your loved one is addicted to methamphetamine or to opioids.
It was a New York Times bestseller. Its Amazon rating is 4.6 (1,178 ratings) and Goodreads is 4.1 (55,500 ratings).
The Opioid Epidemic – What Everyone Needs to Know, by Yngvild Olsen and Joshua M. Sharfstein
This book lays out the opioid epidemic very well. Of the many books I've read about the opioid epidemic, this is one of the most informative. Its recency also makes it more relevant than books published years ago. It includes actions we can take to address the crisis. The style of question and answer allows you to jump around if you wish, but I enjoyed it from beginning to end.
It has only one rating on Amazon (mine), which is a 5. On Goodreads, its rating is 4.2 (12 ratings).
Granville Street, by Louis Lamoureux
Yes, this is my book, so I will refrain from reviewing it. But I will describe it. Granville Street is a novel set in the midst of the opioid epidemic. Most of the action takes place in a fictional city, named Terrace on a busy fictional road, called Granville Street. The story follows four intersecting lives impacted by the opioid epidemic over one week.
It differs form most books about the opioid epidemic in that it presents information and feelings through a novel, rather than a non-fiction book.
It was just released. It has a rating of 5 of Amazon (11 ratings) and 4.6 on Goodreads (5 ratings).