Dreamland. Free Essay Example

Published: 2023-08-29
Dreamland. Free Essay Example
Essay type:  Book review
Categories:  Community health Drug abuse Social issue Books
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1721 words
15 min read

Drug overdoses are killing more people in America than car accidents. The trend only seems to be getting worse as more people are dying from drug abuse. Opiates, prescription painkillers, and heroin cause some of the most fatal drug overdoses. From the use of these prescription painkillers, heroin has been able to enter into mainstream addiction for most teenagers and adults. High school students are getting hooked on these drugs and dying even before they finish school. This addiction to painkillers affects all people; the rich, the poor, all races, men, and women. Children of the wealthy and privileged are getting addicted and dying in large numbers from the use of painkillers. In the book "Dreamland" by Sam Quinones, he addresses the opiate epidemic follows the lives of different people affected by it all, and connects it to the rise in OxyContin addiction and subsequent heroin use. Through the book Dreamland, we can understand the rise and growth of prescription painkillers and heroin addiction and the effects, as seen in the United States of America.

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Portsmouth, Ohio

Portsmouth Ohio provided a starting point for this opiate epidemic. A small blue-collar small town in Ohio grew to become one of the largest prescription drug abusers in America. In 1929, a shoe company in Portsmouth Ohio built a huge swimming pool the size of a football pitch and named it Dreamland. The pool served as a community recreation center for the people of the town. Through the decades, families came and enjoyed themselves in the swimming pool. Generations of families passed through the pool. The swimming pool served as an equalizer for the people as one would not differentiate a peasant and a factory owner (Quinones, 2016, p.11). Parents were able to watch over their children communally while at the pool. Dreamland served as a community center, whose prosperity was based on steel mill and shoe factories. Capitalism took effect, and the local industries shut down, and so did Dreamland, the community's outdoor paradise. After the closing down of Dreamland, the community shifted indoors, and this provided the perfect environment for drug abuse; specifically, opiate abuse, which is a private and selfish drug. The lack of communal girding that was provided at the pool made it easy for the children and the teenagers to use drugs (Quinones, 2016, p.284). The town of Portsmouth became one of the largest breeding grounds for opiate abuse in the country.

Opioid Abuse and How It Affects the Town

The events happening in a small town like Portsmouth would cause diverse effects on the entire country decades later. The prosperity of Portsmouth began to fall apart with the industrialization of the Rust Belt. Local family-owned businesses closed down. Local industries were also closed down, resulting in many people losing their jobs, and as a result, people began to leave. By the mid-1990s, prescription pills were very common in Portsmouth. Doctors in this area dispensed prescription drugs freely more than in any other place in the country. Prescription drugs caused a widespread addiction to the people of Portsmouth. The pills were made from synthetic opiates that have a similar molecular structure to heroin, and as a result, those using those pills ended up using heroin as a fall back drug. The doctors wound up making a fortune from selling to people these prescription drugs. Mexican drug cartels took the opportunity, and they began providing reliable home delivery services for addicts like pizza delivery, and this increased the addiction (Quinones, 2016, p.63). Those who could not get a prescription from a doctor could get it from the cartels in the form of cheap black tar heroin. The addiction spread to other parts of Ohio and West Virginia as the cartel also spread its territories.

The town of Portsmouth became susceptible to drug abuse with the opening of its first pill mill and later became the pill mill capital of America in the mid-1990s (Quinones, 2016, p.272). A pill mill was a place a doctor prescribed pills without a diagnosis for any pain problems to identify what was causing it for cash. Portsmouth had more pill mills than anywhere else in the country, with more than a dozen pill mills functionally operating. These pill mills prescribed millions of pills per year, and this got so many people addicted to prescription drugs in that area.

The doctor behind the pill mill phenomenon was called David Proctor. When the pain killer OxyContin came along, it provided the pill mills the perfect drug. Those who sought it for pain relief got addicted, and even after the pain subsided, they longed to abuse it. For every patient who consumed it, there was likely a chance that they would consume it again and again. Proctor saw this as an opportunity and began prescribing OxyContin as a pain reliever. He even encouraged imaginary pain to some of his clients a more widespread addiction to make a solid profit (Quinones, 2016, p.216). The amount of money made from his pill mill made him quite wealthy. He trained other doctors who worked under him how to work a pill mill and thus spread the works. Every physician in Portsmouth operated a pill mill. A place that was once starved of healthcare was now filled with doctors seeking to make a fortune from the prescription painkillers (Quinones, 2016, p.218). Those who could not get the pills shifted to black tar heroin sold by the Mexican cartels that made accessibility as easy as pizza delivery. The number of shifters from prescription painkillers to heroin has increased violently over the years. Proctor David not only facilitated the addiction of the people in Portsmouth but also the spread of abuse of prescription drugs to other areas in America.

The large use of opioids in Portsmouth cost the town a whole young generation. Many children were addicted to the prescription pills; the mayor's son and even the police chief's son, "the kids of the excellent families got addicted" (Quinones, 2016, p.285). One by one, more people were getting addicted to opioids in prescription drugs. This addiction tore the entire town apart. To obtain the pills, children would steal air conditioners from their homes, manhole covers, and even their family Christmas presents to obtain the pill. These pills became a form of currency in Portsmouth. The value of the stolen goods would be equivalent to half the value of pills.

A new class of entrepreneurs emerged; that dealt with selling pills gotten from the pill mills to 'junkies' who were unable to afford. Some would sell their prescription for extra money. Pill scamming became a generous business opportunity for some of the people (Quinones, 2016, p.287). They feigned pain and MRI scans to obtain a prescription from doctors and later sell the pills to other 'junkies.' The same MRI scans would be used by other different people to obtain the pills at a price. Addicts who had no means of obtaining the pills made would make deals with dealers who drove them to clinics and paid for the pills in exchange for half the amount. The business became quite rampant in Portsmouth and elsewhere. Many people were able to procure drugs and make money this way (Quinones, 2016, p.287). Getting money to pay for these prescriptions soon became a problem, and an alternative was sought through the Medicaid card, which provided health insurance through Medicaid. Part of the insurance paid for medicine (Quinones, 2016, p.288). The people able to receive the health insurance were people under State Welfare or on the federal disability program known as Supplemental Security Program. The card cost three dollars, and in exchange, one could obtain pills worth thousands of dollars. The Medicaid card allowed huge quantities of prescription medication to hit the streets resulting in the growth of illegal businesses trading drugs; more people got addicted and died from the use of prescription pills (Quinones, 2016, p.289).

The use of opioids caused a surge in crime levels in the town of Portsmouth. Addicts could do anything to get their daily dosage of pills from stealing chainsaws to stealing stake. Walmart was mainly stolen as it provided a one-stop-shop for shoplifters. Con artists emerged who could shoplift with necessarily lifting a finger. When physicians began requesting for a urine test, a urine business also began where children's urine was sold to addicts who used it to fake their results to obtain a prescription. Opioids created a criminal 'junkie' kingdom in Portsmouth that was crumbling socially and economically. Very many children died due to the overuse of opioids in prescription drugs.

The Current State

Today, new addicts are created every day. Despite the government shutting down on the distribution of pill mills, new ones emerged with a different name "pain management centers." Cartels continue supplying cheap black tar heroin that is slowly killing more and more people. The system is very hard to eradicate; dealers are captured today, and tomorrow they are already replaced. Families continue to experience the hardships that pertain to dealing with an addict. Finances are maxed out, trying to remove a dope addiction that simply began with a knee injury. Doctors issue them with these pills, and within a short time, they are addicted. To deal with the rising addiction all over America, the community at large needs to work together. One cannot do it alone. If the whole community; parents, the church, non-profits, the local authorities and the community at large work together to stop opiate abuse; they would be able to deal with the rising addictions and the cartels that are slowly killing the youth

Closing of the pill mill and the pain clinics was a necessary step towards the re-growth of Portsmouth. Today Portsmouth has been able to rebuild itself as a town that was brought down to rock bottom by drug abuse. The town is a veteran in its regard. Different businesses have been able to open up in the town, providing jobs to its population after 30 years of no economic progress. The town serves as an example to others on the effects of prescription painkillers. 10% of Portsmouth's addicted population has been able to withdraw from the abuse of prescription painkillers successfully. Portsmouth is slowly walking back to Dreamland.


Quinones, S. (2016). Dreamland: The true tale of America's opiate epidemic. Bloomsbury Press.

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