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Town Hall Seattle: Arts & Culture Series

Town Hall’s Arts & Culture series elevates the voices of local artists while bringing world-renowned cultural icons to Seattle audiences. The series celebrates music, photography, sculpture, philosophy, heritage, and traditions around the world that enrich our lives.

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Aug 14, 2019

America’s twenty-plus year struggle with opioid addiction has affected communities of all sizes and walks: from wealthy suburbs to distressed towns in Central Appalachia; from disparate cities to once-idyllic farm towns. Journalist Beth Macy joined us to help us comprehend the heartbreaking trajectory of this epidemic with insight from her book Dopesick, illustrating how this national crisis has persisted for so long and become so firmly entrenched.

Macy introduced us to the families and first responders struggling to ameliorate this epidemic, outlining how opioid drug abuse unites Americans across geographic and class lines. From the introduction of OxyContin in 1996, Macy parses how America embraced a medical culture where overtreatment with painkillers became the norm. She brought each facet of the crisis into focus through unsparing yet deeply human portraits: unemployed individuals using painkillers both to numb the pain of joblessness and pay their bills, privileged teens trading pills in cul-de-sacs, and even high school standouts falling prey to prostitution, jail, and death. Join Macy for stories that highlight the spirit and tenacity of those facing addiction and working to build a better future for themselves and their families.

Beth Macy is a journalist who writes about outsiders and underdogs. Her writing has won more than a dozen national journalism awards, including a Nieman Fellowship for Journalism at Harvard and the 2013 J. Anthony Lukas Word-in-Progress award for Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local—and Helped Save an American Town.

Recorded live in The Forum at Town Hall Seattle on August 12, 2019.