OBOC 2015-16


Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones

About the Book

In fascinating detail, Sam Quinones chronicles how, over the past 15 years, enterprising sugar cane farmers in a small county on the west coast of Mexico created a unique distribution system that brought black tar heroin--the cheapest, most addictive form of the opiate, two to three times purer than its white powder cousin--to the veins of people across the United States. Communities where heroin had never been seen before—from Charlotte, North Carolina, and Huntington, West Virginia, to Salt Lake City and Portland, Oregon—were overrun with it. Local police and residents were stunned. How could heroin, long considered a drug found only in the dense, urban environments along the East Coast, and trafficked into the United States by enormous Colombian drug cartels, be so incredibly ubiquitous in the American heartland? Who was bringing it here, and perhaps more importantly, why were so many townspeople suddenly eager for the comparatively cheap high it offered?

With the same dramatic drive of El Narco and Methland, Sam Quinones weaves together two classic tales of American capitalism: The stories of young men in Mexico, independent of the drug cartels, in search of their own American Dream via the fast and enormous profits of trafficking cheap black-tar heroin to America's rural and suburban addicts; and that of Purdue Pharma in Stamford, Connecticut, determined to corner the market on pain with its new and expensive miracle drug, Oxycontin; extremely addictive in its own right. Quinones illuminates just how these two stories fit together as cause and effect: hooked on costly Oxycontin, American addicts were lured to much cheaper black tar heroin and its powerful and dangerous long-lasting high. Embroiled alongside the suppliers and buyers are DEA agents, local, small-town sheriffs, and the US attorney from eastern Virginia whose case against Purdue Pharma and Oxycontin made him an enemy of the Bush-era Justice Department, ultimately stalling and destroying his career in public service.

Dreamland is a scathing and incendiary account of drug culture and addiction spreading to every part of the American landscape.
{The above text is an excerpt from book synopsis from Amazon.com}

Where to Get the Book

Books can be purchased at a 10 percent discount at the University Bookstore on Fifth, by showing your Pitt ID The book is also available from Pitt's Hillman Library, the Health Science's Library and from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh both as a traditional book and as an e-book download for Kindle, Overdrive, and EPUB format.


Thursday, October 29
, 4-5 p.m., A115 Crabtree Hall
The Heroin and Opioid Overdose Epidemic in Pennsylvania by Dean Donald Burke | View Flickr event photos
(GR approved event)

Tuesday, November 10, 3:30 p.m., University Club - Ballroom A
One Book, One Community Author Visit By Dreamland Author Sam Quinones | View Flickr event photos | Pre-event interview with University Times
Reception immediately following.
(GR approved event)

Thursday, March 17
, 7 p.m., Pitt Public Health Laboratory Pavilion Auditorium (G23)
Global Health Film Series Event | Viewing of documentary "The Naked Truth: Death by Fentanyl" and post-film panel discussion | View Flickr event photos
Panelists: Karen Hacker (ACHD), Neil Capretto (Gateway Rehab), Abraham Kabazie (West Penn), Mary Hawk (Pitt Public Health), Carmen Capozzi (Sage's Army)
(GR approved event)

Sunday, May 1, 5:30 p.m., Carnegie Music Hall
Pitt Public Health Convocation
Keynote Speaker: David J. Hickton, United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania

OBOC Bulletin Board

This will be the fourth year of a school bulletin board on topics surrounding the One Book, One Community Book. Displays will change approximately every six to eight weeks throughout the academic year. The bulletin board display was outside of room A115.

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Suggested Reading List

Each year numerous book titles are considered and nominated by students, faculty, and staff for the Pitt Public Health One Book, One Community program. Multiple books are then read by faculty and staff to select the one book that will encompass the year’s theme for the program. This process inherently leaves a number of worthy good books left on the bookshelf. Below is a selection of a few of them selected by the Pitt Public Health faculty for your reading enjoyment.

  • Generation Rx by Erin Marie Daly
  • Memoirs of an Addicted Brain: A Neuroscientist Examines His Former Drug Life by Marc Lewis
  • Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy by David Sheff
  • In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction by Gabor Mate
Dreamland book cover

Pilot Grants for Research on Opioid Drug and Heroin Addiction

Given the intensity of the overdose epidemic, Dean Burke has launched a new Pilot Grant Program entitled Advancing Research on Opioid Drug and Heroin Addiction. Awards will be for $25,000 for one year, and we expect to fund three projects. Projects should address important aspects of opioid drug and/or heroin drug addiction and build on existing studies in the Graduate School of Public Health, adding new science by obtaining novel measures or outcomes.

Electronic applications (including cover sheet) should be emailed to Mary Brady, executive assistant to the dean, at bradym1@pitt.edu.

Questions should be directed to Jane Cauley, associate dean of research, at jcauley@edc.pitt.edu.

Tune in to this radio interview with author Sam Quinones on WESA: Heroin's Deadly Impact Hits Home In Southwestern Pennsylvania.