This Is Ohio: The Overdose Crisis and the Front Lines of a New America

Counterpoint. Sept. 2020. 304p. ISBN 9781640093553. $26. SOC SCI
This profoundly humanizing investigation surveys the opioid addiction and overdose crisis as experienced in the Ohio community of Newark, east of Columbus. Shuler (The Thirteenth Turn) teaches at nearby Denison University and travels through the Ohio epicenter of the opioid crisis, from Dayton to Portsmouth. He meets and walks with many people who use drugs, and many more who care about and advocate for them. Like the meetings, events, shelters, and grassroots service projects he visits, Shuler’s book gives the opportunity for people to speak up and be heard. A tremendous stigma is attached to drug use, yet users are capable, productive, human, and need to be included in the development of solutions. Lived experience is key to understanding and addressing addiction, which Shuler identifies as a public health problem, and an economic and social problem encompassing race, poverty, and power.
VERDICT The commitment, tenacity, and empathy of the users, activists, and advocates Shuler meets is a stark corrective to the disdain and dehumanization typical of policy and practice in this area. The title forcefully claims this story for Ohio, a statistical center, but addiction reaches all places, and this book is strongly recommended for readers anywhere who are interested in systemic change and the power of the grassroots. [See Prepub Alert, 3/4/20.]
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