How to break opioid cycle? ‘Raising Lazarus’ looks at people who are helping

Oxycodone opioid tablets are seen on a table. Photo by Shutterstock.

More than 100,000 Americans died of a drug overdose in 2021, according to the CDC. The mounting death toll has been rising for years, but it’s been exacerbated by the pandemic and fentanyl. Author Beth Macy wrote about the origins of the opioid crisis in her 2018 book “Dopesick, “ which was subsequently adapted into a Hulu miniseries starring Michael Keaton. Now she’s back with a follow-up called “Raising Lazarus: Hope, Justice, and the Future of America’s Overdose Crisis,” which follows the people trying to save the lives of people struggling with addiction.

“I call them rowdy angels. I mean, they all have tattoos. Many of them are felons. … These are people in recovery, who absolutely their recovery is dependent on them helping other people get into recovery, or to use more safely, or to make any kind of positive change in their life. And some of them relapsed during COVID because the work is so hard,” says author Beth Macy.

She adds, “I interviewed a guy who runs a treatment center in Jamestown, New York, and he described using heroin in the 90s and going into a needle exchange. And the woman at the front desk said, ‘Hi, how can I help you?’ And he said, ‘I'm hungry.’ And she gave me a sandwich. And so sometimes it's as simple as that. And then that thread of trust begins to build. And then that person eventually becomes a portal into treatment. I mean, the guy eventually entered recovery and has a master's degree and now runs a treatment program.”



  • Beth Macy - author of “Raising Lazarus: Hope, Justice, and the Future of America’s Overdose Crisis”