Winter vacation with the college kids is winding down, and I was glad that when Jim needed me to help him out with a quick trip into Roanoke today, one of them was willing to go along.

After our business was accomplished, we thought along the lines of, “Well, as long as we’re here…” and considered taking advantage of some of the things that the little city offers (like coffee shops) that one cannot find in the country. But what we decided to do was take a tour.

One of Roanoke’s local authors, Beth Macy, wrote a book last year that is kind of a big deal (which is kind of a big understatement). Dopesick talks about the opioid crisis and how it took root in the coal mining communities that aren’t too far from where we live in southwest Virginia, but also describes how heroin addiction has ravaged the lives of people right here in Roanoke’s suburbs.

Macy is a former journalist and a great writer. The book is expertly researched, compassionately written, and, to a parent, absolutely horrifying. I read Dopesick this fall, and our eldest college kid did the same while on winter break. Since we were in town today, we decided to explore the neighborhoods that Macy describes in her book: Cave Spring and Hidden Valley.

What did we find? Nothing special. In fact, college kid and I agreed that they reminded me of the neighborhoods near where she had grown up (and from which we had relocated this summer), in Fairfax, Virginia. And that makes the book even more terrifying.

You want to think that things like opioid or heroin addiction happen to people “over there” or who “aren’t like me.” But this book (it’s one of the best I’ve read), and visiting the neighborhoods described in it make you realize that it’s much, much closer than you might think.

4 thoughts on “The Scene of the Tragedy

  1. Hi there, and Happy New Year! Did you The SML Democrats Book Discussion Group is reading Dopesick this month and meets on Thursday, January 17 at 10am at our office in Halesford Center. Remember? Would love to see you!

    Denise Tuttle
    SML Democrats


  2. Hi Anne!
    I love reading your blog. Can’t wait to read ”Dopesick”. Have you read her book “Truevine”, which is an interesting story about the Roanoke area’s history? I have a copy, if you would like me to send it to you. Happy New Year, my friend!


    1. Lorenda, thank you! As someone who works with kids and cares a whole lot about a couple of almost-“adults,” you will get a lot out of Dopesick. I can lend you our copy once Jim finishes it. And yes, I would LOVE to borrow Truevine! You could either send it or come drop it off when you come visit!


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