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Fentanyl, Inc.: How Rogue Chemists Are Creating the Deadliest Wave of the Opioid Epidemic

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A deeply human story, Fentanyl, Inc. is the first deep-dive investigation of a hazardous and illicit industry that has created a worldwide epidemic, ravaging communities and overwhelming and confounding government agencies that are challenged to combat it. "A whole new crop of chemicals is radically changing the recreational drug landscape," writes Ben Westhoff. "These are kno A deeply human story, Fentanyl, Inc. is the first deep-dive investigation of a hazardous and illicit industry that has created a worldwide epidemic, ravaging communities and overwhelming and confounding government agencies that are challenged to combat it. "A whole new crop of chemicals is radically changing the recreational drug landscape," writes Ben Westhoff. "These are known as Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS) and they include replacements for known drugs like heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, and marijuana. They are synthetic, made in a laboratory, and are much more potent than traditional drugs"--and all-too-often tragically lethal. Drugs like fentanyl, K2, and Spice--and those with arcane acronyms like 25i-NBOMe-- were all originally conceived in legitimate laboratories for proper scientific and medicinal purposes. Their formulas were then hijacked and manufactured by rogue chemists, largely in China, who change their molecular structures to stay ahead of the law, making the drugs' effects impossible to predict. Westhoff has infiltrated this shadowy world, becoming the first journalist to report from inside an illicit Chinese fentanyls lab and providing startling and original reporting on how China's vast chemical industry operates, and how the Chinese government subsidizes it. He tracks down the little-known scientists who invented these drugs and inadvertently killed thousands, as well as a mysterious drug baron who turned the law upside down in his home country of New Zealand. Poignantly, Westhoff chronicles the lives of addicted users and dealers, families of victims, law enforcement officers, and underground drug awareness organizers in the U.S. and Europe. Together they represent the shocking and riveting full anatomy of a calamity we are just beginning to understand. From its depths, as Westhoff relates, are emerging new strategies that may provide essential long-term solutions to the drug crisis that has affected so many.


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A deeply human story, Fentanyl, Inc. is the first deep-dive investigation of a hazardous and illicit industry that has created a worldwide epidemic, ravaging communities and overwhelming and confounding government agencies that are challenged to combat it. "A whole new crop of chemicals is radically changing the recreational drug landscape," writes Ben Westhoff. "These are kno A deeply human story, Fentanyl, Inc. is the first deep-dive investigation of a hazardous and illicit industry that has created a worldwide epidemic, ravaging communities and overwhelming and confounding government agencies that are challenged to combat it. "A whole new crop of chemicals is radically changing the recreational drug landscape," writes Ben Westhoff. "These are known as Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS) and they include replacements for known drugs like heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, and marijuana. They are synthetic, made in a laboratory, and are much more potent than traditional drugs"--and all-too-often tragically lethal. Drugs like fentanyl, K2, and Spice--and those with arcane acronyms like 25i-NBOMe-- were all originally conceived in legitimate laboratories for proper scientific and medicinal purposes. Their formulas were then hijacked and manufactured by rogue chemists, largely in China, who change their molecular structures to stay ahead of the law, making the drugs' effects impossible to predict. Westhoff has infiltrated this shadowy world, becoming the first journalist to report from inside an illicit Chinese fentanyls lab and providing startling and original reporting on how China's vast chemical industry operates, and how the Chinese government subsidizes it. He tracks down the little-known scientists who invented these drugs and inadvertently killed thousands, as well as a mysterious drug baron who turned the law upside down in his home country of New Zealand. Poignantly, Westhoff chronicles the lives of addicted users and dealers, families of victims, law enforcement officers, and underground drug awareness organizers in the U.S. and Europe. Together they represent the shocking and riveting full anatomy of a calamity we are just beginning to understand. From its depths, as Westhoff relates, are emerging new strategies that may provide essential long-term solutions to the drug crisis that has affected so many.

30 review for Fentanyl, Inc.: How Rogue Chemists Are Creating the Deadliest Wave of the Opioid Epidemic

  1. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    A far reaching and impeccably researched book on our current opioid epidemic. I've heard of fentanyl, in fact I've heard of many of the drugs discussed within this book. What I didn't realize was how far reaching the drug problem is, not contained to just the US but so many other countries as well, from Sweden to New Zealand. Just how many designer, synthetic drugs are in existence, how for every drug made illegal, another is waiting to take its place. This is a comprehensive view of the drug tr A far reaching and impeccably researched book on our current opioid epidemic. I've heard of fentanyl, in fact I've heard of many of the drugs discussed within this book. What I didn't realize was how far reaching the drug problem is, not contained to just the US but so many other countries as well, from Sweden to New Zealand. Just how many designer, synthetic drugs are in existence, how for every drug made illegal, another is waiting to take its place. This is a comprehensive view of the drug trade, the chemists and manufacturers who make them, to how they are marketed, effect their users and the history of some of these drugs. Some made for good, medical purposes, but a small change in the drugs chemical makeup and it becomes a powerful street drug. It's almost overwhelming, how can this wave of new drugs ever be stopped. I was also surprised that many of these powerful drugs are coming from and produced in China. The author does provide some solutions to better handling of the drug crisis. Not sure how these would work but better control over the drugs people are taking, treatment rather than just punishment, may be a better way than how it is handled now. Some users actually do not know s drug is tampered with, until it is too late, so a place where they could come and use their drugs under the view of qualified personnel may help. I don't know, but this book is alarming and at this point anything that can be tried, should be. Very eye opening, and frightening both, well worth reading. ARC from Edelweiss.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Gator

    Fentanyl, Inc. By Ben Westhoff published 2019. This was exactly the type of book I was searching for. Since I am not in the drug culture I only know what I hear and what I hear often times is very confusing, especially when it comes to all the names of drugs that are in circulation. As most people who are kept busy with the daily grind I knew of the drug basics like weed, coke, H, meth, crack, LSD..... you know the things we’ve all heard about growing up in modern times. While in high school (I’ Fentanyl, Inc. By Ben Westhoff published 2019. This was exactly the type of book I was searching for. Since I am not in the drug culture I only know what I hear and what I hear often times is very confusing, especially when it comes to all the names of drugs that are in circulation. As most people who are kept busy with the daily grind I knew of the drug basics like weed, coke, H, meth, crack, LSD..... you know the things we’ve all heard about growing up in modern times. While in high school (I’ve been out for almost 20 years now, I am 36) we started to receive information about the dangerous of pills, I especially remember someone from our school dying from An Oxy overdose, and I remember that teens mom taking the podium at our high school and talking to us about her son and the dangerous of messing around with these pills. Recently just a few months ago my neighbor, who was my lawn guy, overdosed on meth cut with Fentanyl, which is why I am here writing this review. After My neighbor Kevin passed away I felt a strong desire to find out what the hell is going on and so I started reading books about drugs. My first was Dreamland, AMAZING book, my second was Dope Sick, another great book, and this is my third, and this is the winner as far as information goes. The kind of intel I was searching for wasn’t in the first two books, their focus was on different topics, (Both essential and perfect for the lead up to this book.) I was searching for the information on the synthetic stuff that’s making people go nuts and eat people faces off, (as seen on YouTube) the stuff making people pass out over cars and fire hydrants by the dozens outside of head shops (as seen on YouTube) the stuff making people drop like flys by the tens of thousands here in the Addicted States of America. I FOUND IT!!!! It’s almost as if the book was published just for me, it was On pre order when I began my search so I bought it and waited and in the mean time read the first two mentioned above, but this here Fentanyl, Inc. is the one. The author gets into serious detail about the synthetics from A-Z, this guy did his homework. Not only did he do his homework but he traveled to China to infiltrate chemical companies that produce Fentanyl among other things and get the real scoop straight from the number one supplier of Fentanyl to the west. I am really impressed with his research and dedication to finding the truth about all this, id like to Personally thank him for a job well done. I’ve learned all I need up-to this point about what I was looking to learn. If you are confused about all these synthetic drugs that have bombarded the news over the past couple of years then this is the book for you, it’s fantastic. My beef with the book is it ends the way it starts with a story about the first Fentanyl overdose victim, but I feel the end is abrupt, not bad just too quick for me, no finesse. Second the author gives some advice for what he thinks would be a good way to approach fixing the problem however it’s too progressive for me and seems like it’s just more government breathing down our necks and setting up shop in a neighborhood near you (safe injection sites, Methadone clinics...) I don’t have the answers and truthfully I don’t like any of the solutions, it’s all quite repulsive to me and I’d prefer it didn’t exist, the drugs the junkies the deaths, however I am not naïve and I realize these issues aren’t going away any time soon. As a matter of fact from what I can gather its gonna get a lot worse before (if) it gets better. I don’t have any answers or solutions because this is one big colossal mess we as a culture are in. Having said all Of this I feel good about the knowledge I’ve extracted from this particular book(s) so I’m just gonna buckle up and look out the window and go for a ride, Let’s see where time takes us. Oh yeah, JUST SAY NO TO DRUGS !!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Max

    Very insightful book into the world of synthetic drug abuse. I administer drugs (fentanyl, oxycontin) to my patients at my work so I'm always interested in learning more about them. I never knew there was a whole different world out there with these drugs centered for recreational use instead of pain killing! This book is pretty heavy on the facts and can be a little confusing with all of the drugs names. It's very interesting if you're interested in drugs and abuse, but don't pick it Very insightful book into the world of synthetic drug abuse. I administer drugs (fentanyl, oxycontin) to my patients at my work so I'm always interested in learning more about them. I never knew there was a whole different world out there with these drugs centered for recreational use instead of pain killing! This book is pretty heavy on the facts and can be a little confusing with all of the drugs names. It's very interesting if you're interested in drugs and abuse, but don't pick it up if you're just expecting to read user stories. The author tries to find out where the drugs and compounds are made and travels to China to talk to the people selling and producing them, which is very interesting to read. So, great book for those looking to learn about the origin of recreational drugs and how "common" pain killers can also be abused. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC. 🌟

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rama

    The Fentanyl Crisis On April 15, 2016, on his way home after performing in Atlanta, pop entertainer Prince's plane made an emergency landing in Moline, Illinois. He was found unresponsive and taken to a local hospital. Six days later, he passed away. Toxicology reports revealed that an overdose of opioid Fentanyl caused his demise. In January 2015, Bailey Henke, an 18-year-old kid from Grand Forks. North Dakota overdosed himself to death causing deep sorrow and dolor for his parents. Opioid Fent The Fentanyl Crisis On April 15, 2016, on his way home after performing in Atlanta, pop entertainer Prince's plane made an emergency landing in Moline, Illinois. He was found unresponsive and taken to a local hospital. Six days later, he passed away. Toxicology reports revealed that an overdose of opioid Fentanyl caused his demise. In January 2015, Bailey Henke, an 18-year-old kid from Grand Forks. North Dakota overdosed himself to death causing deep sorrow and dolor for his parents. Opioid Fentanyl put faces of the victims to its name. In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control estimated that 20,000 Americans were killed by fentanyl, a highly addictive synthetic painkiller. This synthetic opioid is 50 times more powerful than heroin. With street names such as Drop Dead, Murder 8, China white, China girl, dance fever and goodfella, fentanyl is marketed by drug dealers as the ultimate high. These new drugs aren't grown in a field; they are made in a laboratory. Plants that yield marijuana and heroin were grown in Mexico and Latin America, but Fentanyl is manufactured in laboratories in China. The author dares to infiltrate Chinese drug operations, a sophisticated laboratory operation distilling outsize quantities of the world's most dangerous chemicals in industrial-size glassware. The Chinese drug industry is not run by cartels and criminal organizations, but by university-educated chemists who often play by their government's rules. Many health-care workers who help treat substance abusers believe the American traditional focus on “supply-side” law enforcement, which emphasizes the prosecution over treatment is futile. This approach fails to address the root of the problem: demand, and under-funded addiction treatment programs. Other alternative harm-reduction program is taking center stage in combating opioid addiction. Experts agree that it would be easy to establish supervised-injection facilities for opioid-ravaged communities in the United States to create one-stop shops where people could test their heroin and fentanyl exchange needle and shoot up safely. On-site help would be ready with Narcan, and users could also receive counseling. Information and medical assistance are slowing the opioid crisis. These facilities are showing a track record of success, but federal and many state authorities are not enthusiastic. The tension is encapsulated in an October 2018 exchange when former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell announced that he had incorporated a nonprofit seeking private funding to open a supervised injection facility in Philadelphia. The US deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein angrily said that if one opened it would be immediately shut down by federal authorities. "I've got a message for Mr. Rosenstein," Rendell said, "They can come and arrest me first." How is that lethal synthetic opioid is creating a global drug addiction crisis? The author presents a grim picture of the origin of the epidemic. He observes that the harm-reduction initiatives remain diluted beneath the shifting weight and influence of political red tape, global capitalism, and the biological and psychological bondage of drug dependency. He visits the shady factories in China from which these drugs emanate, providing startling and original reporting on how China's vast chemical industry operates. He chronicles the lives of addicts and dealers, families of victims, law enforcement officers, and underground drug-awareness organizers in the U.S. and Europe. This is a fascinating book that reads flawlessly and touches your consciousness when you read the stories of families affected by this tragedy.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Christina Dudley

    Yikes. Here's a fairly fast, informative, alarming read about the latest wave in addictive, possibly-deadly drugs. The most powerful mind-altering drugs on offer today are also the cheapest. Synthetic cannabinoids (who even knows how to spell that), synthetic opioids, fake ecstasy. Chemists around the world putting their minds to work and coming up with ways to enslave people. While the synthetics may have been originally pioneered in academic settings for the purposes of science and medicine, t Yikes. Here's a fairly fast, informative, alarming read about the latest wave in addictive, possibly-deadly drugs. The most powerful mind-altering drugs on offer today are also the cheapest. Synthetic cannabinoids (who even knows how to spell that), synthetic opioids, fake ecstasy. Chemists around the world putting their minds to work and coming up with ways to enslave people. While the synthetics may have been originally pioneered in academic settings for the purposes of science and medicine, they've now gone rogue and fallen into the hands of industry (mostly in China, Mexico, and India) for moneymaking purposes. And, as with all addictive substances, there's plenty of money to be made. Basically, don't put unknown substances in your mouths. Not if you're at a rave or a music festival or a high-school party. (All the new drugs are unregulated and always one step ahead of being banned, so there's no quality control and you never know what you're getting or how much.) Of course, this practical advice is impossible to follow when you're addicted and dopesick, but if it's early days and you have the choice between a beer or some powdered something-or-other, go for the beer. Trust me. Westhoff makes a convincing argument for how safe-drug places actually help bring down crime rates and costs, but ugh. It's hard not to go all NIMBY about it, especially since they have no impact on addiction rates, so you're basically between a rock and a hard place and supporting safe drug addiction, rather then being mugged and tripping over used needles.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    My copy was an ARC from ALA Annual 2019 (June, so 3 months before publication). Because of this, the book wasn't 100% finished. That being said, I thought it was an awesome book. I have read many, many others on the opioid epidemic and this is just about the only one that focuses on fentanyl and the role that other countries play. This is not a person with substance abuse disorder or their family members bio. I would recommend to everyone.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    I attended Ben’s event at Politics and Prose and was really interested in learning more about the international politics behind the drug that took my sister Emily’s life. I didn’t expect to learn a lot about drugs when reading this, but I did. I had never heard of novel psychoactive substances (NPS) before this book and was truly fascinated by how much harm they can cause. This book really opened my eyes to the politics and business behind China manufacturing and selling the fentanyl that is ta I attended Ben’s event at Politics and Prose and was really interested in learning more about the international politics behind the drug that took my sister Emily’s life. I didn’t expect to learn a lot about drugs when reading this, but I did. I had never heard of novel psychoactive substances (NPS) before this book and was truly fascinated by how much harm they can cause. This book really opened my eyes to the politics and business behind China manufacturing and selling the fentanyl that is taking so many lives here in the US. I’ve read a bunch of the highly talked about books on drugs and opioids and most leave me at least a little bit irritated at the author for their representation of people who use drugs or for their views on the solutions. Ben didn’t leave me feeling that way. While there were some issues with language choice (mainly using the stigmatized term "abuse" when "use" would have sufficed), his takeaways were spot on. Ben talked both at the event and in the book about how harm reduction needs to be embraced instead of arresting our way out of these issues or trying to stop drugs from coming here in the first place. I highly recommend reading the book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia D

    *** I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review *** You like drugs? Public health? Policy? Politics? Interested in the current opioid epidemic? This is a good fit to itch those likes. I was expecting a book more focused on personal stories of drug users and fentanyl, but what I got instead was an interesting telling of the drug situation not only in the United States but around the world as well. The history around designer drugs is told in length. The internationa *** I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review *** You like drugs? Public health? Policy? Politics? Interested in the current opioid epidemic? This is a good fit to itch those likes. I was expecting a book more focused on personal stories of drug users and fentanyl, but what I got instead was an interesting telling of the drug situation not only in the United States but around the world as well. The history around designer drugs is told in length. The international politics, especially between the US and China, is discussed and made me think about whether there were some historical reasons around China’s current lax attitude about the drug labs. I found this to be very educational, especially as I start taking classes on population health and societal health issues. Would recommend. It’s not a dry read like some other drug books I’ve picked up recently.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Peter Mcloughlin

    looks at the Opioid crisis from the lens of synthetic labs that are producing fentanyl among other concoctions but fentanyl is the one that is killing huge numbers of people. Enforcement problems with fly by night labs and distribution networks popping up in the wake of the opioid crisis. Talks more about the networks than focusing on the toll. A large number of addicts is driving supply and while the networks are interesting they are ubiquitous and shapeshifting. I think a humane policy geared looks at the Opioid crisis from the lens of synthetic labs that are producing fentanyl among other concoctions but fentanyl is the one that is killing huge numbers of people. Enforcement problems with fly by night labs and distribution networks popping up in the wake of the opioid crisis. Talks more about the networks than focusing on the toll. A large number of addicts is driving supply and while the networks are interesting they are ubiquitous and shapeshifting. I think a humane policy geared towards the user is called for. Networks pop up and come and go like mushrooms, after a rainstorm, it is the demand side we have to work on.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    A comprehensive look at the rise of fentanyl, fentanyl derivatives, and the myriad designer drugs/novel psychoactive substances that have come in their wake. This is the next step in the opioid crisis, since the street heroin addicts have turned to is often cut with varying and dangerous amounts of fentanyls, often with tragic results. Westhoff met with manufacturers in China, makers of safe-testing kits in Europe, and researched the Dark Web.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Gokulakrishnan Saravanan

    Good informative book on synthetic drugs. Biggest takeaway for me is war on drugs can never be won, at least the one on Novel Psychoactive Substances. Would love to read Dreamland by Sam Quinones next, regarding opioids.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Allie

    This book blew me away. It is so current with what is going on in the world. What I am seeing in the news daily about fentanyl laced cocaine overdoses, hits home with this book. Also, made me understand Trump’s trade war with China had to do with their illegal drug trade. Mind. Blown.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Scribe Publications

    This is an exceptionally useful and well-timed book. I hope anyone concerned about this era’s new addiction epidemic will read it and put its messages to use. Ben Westhoff very skilfully combines pharmacology, politics, law enforcement, and gripping international intrigue in his account of America’s number-one public health problem. I hope Fentanyl, Inc is widely read and influential. James Fallows, award-winning journalist and author of China Airborne A necessary and sobering look at the opioid crisis and how it i/>A/>James This is an exceptionally useful and well-timed book. I hope anyone concerned about this era’s new addiction epidemic will read it and put its messages to use. Ben Westhoff very skilfully combines pharmacology, politics, law enforcement, and gripping international intrigue in his account of America’s number-one public health problem. I hope Fentanyl, Inc is widely read and influential. James Fallows, award-winning journalist and author of China Airborne A necessary and sobering look at the opioid crisis and how it is not as simple as it appears on the surface. Well-researched and user-friendly for all readers. An important book. Debra Ginsberg, Bay Books Through his courageous reporting Ben Westhoff takes us to the heart of the problem. In Fentanyl, Inc. he shines a light on the human wreckage and damage caused by the most powerful and dangerous of the opioids, fentanyl, and its derivatives. He shows us how addiction, mislabeling, purposefully or mistakenly mixed drugs lead to tragic ends. The drug is often created out of factories operating with the permission of the Chinese government. To solve this epidemic, we must understand it. Make no mistake; the fentanyl problem is a global issue. Fentanyl, Inc is a must-read, pulling the curtain back and showing us how this human tragedy occurs and how insidious and addictive a drug can be. Katherine Tobin, Ph.D., Former Member of the U.S.-China Economic & Security Review Commission Drawing material from official reports, drug databases, scores of interviews, and years of personal research, Westhoff presents an unflinching, illuminating portrait of a festering crisis involving a drug industry that thrives as effectively as it kills. Highly sobering, exemplary reportage delivered through richly detailed scenarios and diversified perspectives. STARRED REVIEW Kirkus Reviews In Fentanyl, Inc., Ben Westhoff lays bare the twisted history that led to opioids wreaking havoc on twenty-first century America. If you want to understand the bloody cycle of addiction and death gripping the nation, you need to read this book. Ioan Grillo, author of El Narco and Gangster Warlords An information-packed work of reporting that traces the rise of designer drugs, including synthetic and/or more dangerous versions of weed, acid, and heroin, the last of which gives the book its title. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that’s chemically similar to morphine and heroin, is the top cause of fatal drug overdoses in the United States. The most illuminating parts of the book are those that reveal the business practices of Chinese labs that supply illicit fentanyl to U.S. dealers. These labs are a source of death and destabilisation for our country, American officials say, while Chinese leaders contend that it’s on us to deal with Americans’ appetite for the stuff. Francie Diep, Pacific Standard Westhoff explores the many-tentacled world of illicit opioids, from the streets of East St. Louis to Chinese pharmaceutical companies, from music festivals deep in the Michigan woods to sanctioned ‘shooting up rooms’ in Barcelona, in this frank, insightful, and occasionally searing exposé ... Offers a truly multifaceted view of the landscape of fentanyl use and abuse. The disparate narrative strands he weaves together — including tragic stories of drug users, straightforward analysis of the history of opioid use, tension-filled episodes of drug runs and supplier meet-ups, and the humane and hopeful work of the ‘harm reduction’ movement—all come together to provide a more complex understanding of the rise of, and response to, the opioid epidemic. Westhoff’s well-reported and researched work will likely open eyes, slow knee-jerk responses, and start much needed conversations. Publishers Weekly Will assist policymakers, activists, and general readers in understanding better how to respond to the drug crisis that is only more intractable now. Library Journal So many substance abuse books are a mix of hysterical in tone and a disappointing ‘paint by numbers’ in their execution, but [Fentanyl, Inc.] really stands out for its research, journalism, and overall analysis ... It is also a great book on China, and how China and the Chinese chemicals industry works, backed up by extensive original investigation ... Definitely recommended. Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution Timely and agonising … [Westhoff’s] book is the product of a four-year deep-dive into the world of designer drugs, and it’s an impressive work of investigative journalism. He interviewed 160 people and visited laboratories all over the world; he even infiltrated a pair of Chinese drug operations. USA Today A history lesson on American drug use and drug laws, a crash course in chemistry and neuroscience, a multifaceted portrait of addiction, and a look at how harm reduction programs can atone for the failures of the War on Drugs … A finely woven and accessible analysis of the connection between university chemistry professors, dark web sales, drug cartels, law enforcement, and the dealers and addicts dependent on it … Westhoff is a skilled and empathetic biographer, and this gift serves the composite of the dealers, users, and bereaved of Fentanyl, Inc. … It’s in this focus on the human cost of the crisis, of empathy over criminalisation, that this accomplished book feels most urgently important. St. Louis Post-Dispatch The most frightening book of the year, and it’s mandatory reading … Epic … This is a story about people, and Fentanyl, Inc. features a roster of villains and victims who stray far from movie archetypes. Dig Boston Setting Fentanyl, Inc. apart from most other books that focus on the supply-side of illegal drugs, Westhoff smartly avoids pro-drug-war narratives that push for an intensified law-and-order response to the proliferation of more potent synthetic drugs … The War on Drugs and misguided law enforcement efforts have not stemmed the spread of fentanyl, but instead have contributed to its takeover, Westhoff carefully explains. Filter Extensively reported and vividly written … Westhoff elevates his impressive examination of the opioid epidemic by reporting on the US government’s failed war on drugs and the promise of innovative ‘harm reduction’ policies that recognise that ‘Just Say No’ is a losing proposition. National Book Review Westhoff looks at the new wave of synthetic drugs that are taking the opioid epidemic to a whole new deadly level. He managed to go undercover into one of the many labs in China where these drugs are being manufactured, and the results of his research there and elsewhere are terrifying … Anyone who is interested in learning more about the opioid crisis, or has read Dopesick, is going to want to check this out. Omnivoracious, the Amazon Book Review A detailed and far-ranging investigation into the production, marketing, and usage of fentanyl reveals an intertwined business network that spans continents and kills thousands. Shelf Awareness In this gripping investigation, Westhoff recounts the deadly consequences of synthetically made drugs and how this phenomenon is beginning spread internationally. Happy Mag The way [Fentanyl, Inc.] looked at every aspect of the novel psychoactive substance trade was unique. From chemists manipulating chemical structures of precursors to fentanyl before countries can ban them, to the dealers, end users and those who want to change the way addiction is treated, Westhoff details it all ... this book is an eyeopener to anyone who reads it of just how coordinated and advanced the illicit drug trade is in aiming to get new highs to market at any cost. Sam Still Reading Fentanyl, Inc. is a wake-up call to us all. Shocking and unnerving. Judith Baragwanath, Noted

  14. 5 out of 5

    Scribe Publications

    This is an exceptionally useful and well-timed book. I hope anyone concerned about this era’s new addiction epidemic will read it and put its messages to use. Ben Westhoff very skilfully combines pharmacology, politics, law enforcement, and gripping international intrigue in his account of America’s number-one public health problem. I hope Fentanyl, Inc is widely read and influential. James Fallows, award-winning journalist and author of China Airborne A necessary and sobering look at the opioid crisis and how it i/>A/>James This is an exceptionally useful and well-timed book. I hope anyone concerned about this era’s new addiction epidemic will read it and put its messages to use. Ben Westhoff very skilfully combines pharmacology, politics, law enforcement, and gripping international intrigue in his account of America’s number-one public health problem. I hope Fentanyl, Inc is widely read and influential. James Fallows, award-winning journalist and author of China Airborne A necessary and sobering look at the opioid crisis and how it is not as simple as it appears on the surface. Well-researched and user-friendly for all readers. An important book. Debra Ginsberg, Bay Books Through his courageous reporting Ben Westhoff takes us to the heart of the problem. In Fentanyl, Inc. he shines a light on the human wreckage and damage caused by the most powerful and dangerous of the opioids, fentanyl, and its derivatives. He shows us how addiction, mislabeling, purposefully or mistakenly mixed drugs lead to tragic ends. The drug is often created out of factories operating with the permission of the Chinese government. To solve this epidemic, we must understand it. Make no mistake; the fentanyl problem is a global issue. Fentanyl, Inc is a must-read, pulling the curtain back and showing us how this human tragedy occurs and how insidious and addictive a drug can be. Katherine Tobin, Ph.D., Former Member of the U.S.-China Economic & Security Review Commission Drawing material from official reports, drug databases, scores of interviews, and years of personal research, Westhoff presents an unflinching, illuminating portrait of a festering crisis involving a drug industry that thrives as effectively as it kills. Highly sobering, exemplary reportage delivered through richly detailed scenarios and diversified perspectives. STARRED REVIEW Kirkus Reviews In Fentanyl, Inc., Ben Westhoff lays bare the twisted history that led to opioids wreaking havoc on twenty-first century America. If you want to understand the bloody cycle of addiction and death gripping the nation, you need to read this book. Ioan Grillo, author of El Narco and Gangster Warlords An information-packed work of reporting that traces the rise of designer drugs, including synthetic and/or more dangerous versions of weed, acid, and heroin, the last of which gives the book its title. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that’s chemically similar to morphine and heroin, is the top cause of fatal drug overdoses in the United States. The most illuminating parts of the book are those that reveal the business practices of Chinese labs that supply illicit fentanyl to U.S. dealers. These labs are a source of death and destabilisation for our country, American officials say, while Chinese leaders contend that it’s on us to deal with Americans’ appetite for the stuff. Francie Diep, Pacific Standard Westhoff explores the many-tentacled world of illicit opioids, from the streets of East St. Louis to Chinese pharmaceutical companies, from music festivals deep in the Michigan woods to sanctioned ‘shooting up rooms’ in Barcelona, in this frank, insightful, and occasionally searing exposé ... Offers a truly multifaceted view of the landscape of fentanyl use and abuse. The disparate narrative strands he weaves together — including tragic stories of drug users, straightforward analysis of the history of opioid use, tension-filled episodes of drug runs and supplier meet-ups, and the humane and hopeful work of the ‘harm reduction’ movement—all come together to provide a more complex understanding of the rise of, and response to, the opioid epidemic. Westhoff’s well-reported and researched work will likely open eyes, slow knee-jerk responses, and start much needed conversations. Publishers Weekly Will assist policymakers, activists, and general readers in understanding better how to respond to the drug crisis that is only more intractable now. Library Journal So many substance abuse books are a mix of hysterical in tone and a disappointing ‘paint by numbers’ in their execution, but [Fentanyl, Inc.] really stands out for its research, journalism, and overall analysis ... It is also a great book on China, and how China and the Chinese chemicals industry works, backed up by extensive original investigation ... Definitely recommended. Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution Timely and agonising … [Westhoff’s] book is the product of a four-year deep-dive into the world of designer drugs, and it’s an impressive work of investigative journalism. He interviewed 160 people and visited laboratories all over the world; he even infiltrated a pair of Chinese drug operations. USA Today A history lesson on American drug use and drug laws, a crash course in chemistry and neuroscience, a multifaceted portrait of addiction, and a look at how harm reduction programs can atone for the failures of the War on Drugs … A finely woven and accessible analysis of the connection between university chemistry professors, dark web sales, drug cartels, law enforcement, and the dealers and addicts dependent on it … Westhoff is a skilled and empathetic biographer, and this gift serves the composite of the dealers, users, and bereaved of Fentanyl, Inc. … It’s in this focus on the human cost of the crisis, of empathy over criminalisation, that this accomplished book feels most urgently important. St. Louis Post-Dispatch The most frightening book of the year, and it’s mandatory reading … Epic … This is a story about people, and Fentanyl, Inc. features a roster of villains and victims who stray far from movie archetypes. Dig Boston Setting Fentanyl, Inc. apart from most other books that focus on the supply-side of illegal drugs, Westhoff smartly avoids pro-drug-war narratives that push for an intensified law-and-order response to the proliferation of more potent synthetic drugs … The War on Drugs and misguided law enforcement efforts have not stemmed the spread of fentanyl, but instead have contributed to its takeover, Westhoff carefully explains. Filter Extensively reported and vividly written … Westhoff elevates his impressive examination of the opioid epidemic by reporting on the US government’s failed war on drugs and the promise of innovative ‘harm reduction’ policies that recognise that ‘Just Say No’ is a losing proposition. National Book Review Westhoff looks at the new wave of synthetic drugs that are taking the opioid epidemic to a whole new deadly level. He managed to go undercover into one of the many labs in China where these drugs are being manufactured, and the results of his research there and elsewhere are terrifying … Anyone who is interested in learning more about the opioid crisis, or has read Dopesick, is going to want to check this out. Omnivoracious, the Amazon Book Review A detailed and far-ranging investigation into the production, marketing, and usage of fentanyl reveals an intertwined business network that spans continents and kills thousands. Shelf Awareness In this gripping investigation, Westhoff recounts the deadly consequences of synthetically made drugs and how this phenomenon is beginning spread internationally. Happy Mag The way [Fentanyl, Inc.] looked at every aspect of the novel psychoactive substance trade was unique. From chemists manipulating chemical structures of precursors to fentanyl before countries can ban them, to the dealers, end users and those who want to change the way addiction is treated, Westhoff details it all ... this book is an eyeopener to anyone who reads it of just how coordinated and advanced the illicit drug trade is in aiming to get new highs to market at any cost. Sam Still Reading Fentanyl, Inc. is a wake-up call to us all. Shocking and unnerving. Judith Baragwanath, Noted

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sam Still Reading

    It’s no secret that I really enjoy medical non-fiction, but I really loved Fentanyl, Inc. I thought the way it looked at every aspect of the novel psychoactive substance trade was unique. From chemists manipulating chemical structures of precursors to fentanyl before countries can ban them, to the dealers, end users and those who want to change the way addiction is treated, Westhoff details it all. The book is very well researched, right down to the trip Westhoff makes to China to see an NPS lab It’s no secret that I really enjoy medical non-fiction, but I really loved Fentanyl, Inc. I thought the way it looked at every aspect of the novel psychoactive substance trade was unique. From chemists manipulating chemical structures of precursors to fentanyl before countries can ban them, to the dealers, end users and those who want to change the way addiction is treated, Westhoff details it all. The book is very well researched, right down to the trip Westhoff makes to China to see an NPS lab in action. (He had to pose as a potential purchaser to do so, but it wasn’t as underhand as you might expect – the companies answered his questions on Skype, provided price lists and offered alternatives when the drugs were banned). The story is also told in a logical fashion, at first explaining what NPS are and their history (an intriguing tale of its own), talking to those using and suppling and then looking at those making the drugs possible. This is not a backyard setup, the creation of NPS is a big, relatively co-ordinated industry using laboratories around the world to make and stay ahead of the game. The book discusses NPS that you may have read about in the media, such as fentanyl (a potent opioid painkiller that some are using illicitly instead of heroin), ‘legal cannabis’ and ecstasy. Fentanyl, Inc. is certainly not a dry read, thanks to Westhoff’s engaging style that uses interviews and time spent with people in the field to show what is happening. He explains how many drugs are cut with others (often fentanyl, sometimes things more odd like worming treatments for dogs) and how users have no way of knowing what they are taking. Various organisations have tried to set up pill testing worldwide (including in Australia) so people can make an informed decision before they take an NPS. This has been met with resistance in multiple countries. Westhoff details all this, and gives examples of places where pill testing and supervised injection rooms are used with success. The opioid epidemic is prevalent in a lot of minds and books like this demonstrate that there is a huge need out there for education, intervention and change. The problem is rampant and Westhoff explains this well, showing issues across many countries. He also devotes a significant amount of the book to describing interventions to treat addiction, offer alternative means to take illicit drugs more safely and discuss the future. This is all very interesting and it’s a pity that these things get mainly talked about in books rather than discussed in a more public arena. Still, this book is an eyeopener to anyone who reads it of just how coordinated and advanced the illicit drug trade is in aiming to get new highs to market at any cost. Save your money and don’t do drugs kids. Thank you to Scribe for the copy of this book. My review is honest. http://samstillreading.wordpress.com

  16. 5 out of 5

    Infinity's Bookshelf

    This book was exactly what I was looking for in non-fiction. It mixed story-telling, statistics and investigative journalism in cohesive way that always made me want to learn more. The chapters were short and to the point and everything that was said was important or new so at no point did the book drag. I honestly devoured this book and it felt like I was reading a fiction book. I received my copy for free from NetGalley and my opinion of the book is not influenced by that fact. The This book was exactly what I was looking for in non-fiction. It mixed story-telling, statistics and investigative journalism in cohesive way that always made me want to learn more. The chapters were short and to the point and everything that was said was important or new so at no point did the book drag. I honestly devoured this book and it felt like I was reading a fiction book. I received my copy for free from NetGalley and my opinion of the book is not influenced by that fact. The topic was what brought me into the novel, as I am always interesting in fiction that is related to current events. This book was about the history of current drugs with a special emphasis on synthetic drugs made in labs rather than grown in fields. The first three parts were focused on the drug trade, with different chapters focused on different parts, while the final part expressed the authors opinion on how we can solve the problem and how other countries/people are helping/hindering. I believe this format is really well suited for this type of book and it definitely added to my reading experience. That being said, I believe that if you did not believe in the authors original thesis, then you probably will not like the book as much, due to its one-sided nature. I agree with its overall philosophy, but many people especially people in the United States, where the author is from, will disagree with it. The purpose of the book is to inform people who may not know about different issues and with that purpose this book flourishes. I really feel like I know more about the issue and it was so accessible for the general public. The narrative portions of the book were really well done, and they were interspersed with facts adding crediablity to the author’s opinion. The investigative parts were the best by far and I found myself anticipating each part as it went on. It was really harrowing to read about his infiltration of different drug organizations. It was also interesting to read about the logistics of how the drug trade works and how the author went about his investigation of it. I had such a good time with this book and I hope that my next non-fiction read, Blowout by Rachel Maddow is just as interesting. Leave a comment if you have any interesting non-fiction reads. Happy Reading! 5 stars

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lissa

    The opioid epidemic took a turn for the worse when medical and emergency officials began to see an entirely new class of drug take over.  The confusing factor is that the chemistry of the drugs kept changing.  Fentanyl was created to manage severe pain in patients with terminal cancer and extreme pain disorders.  Once drug cartels and others in the illegal drug trade realized that it could be added to heroin to create a cheaper and more addictive high, it became a major street drug.  This book d The opioid epidemic took a turn for the worse when medical and emergency officials began to see an entirely new class of drug take over.  The confusing factor is that the chemistry of the drugs kept changing.  Fentanyl was created to manage severe pain in patients with terminal cancer and extreme pain disorders.  Once drug cartels and others in the illegal drug trade realized that it could be added to heroin to create a cheaper and more addictive high, it became a major street drug.  This book details the chain of the drug, starting with the chemists, the manufacturers in China, the cartels in Mexico and the dealers in the U.S. and Canada.  This is a well researched book and a fascinating (yet absolutely depressing) look into the complicated business of illegal drugs.  I received a digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.  

  18. 5 out of 5

    Zhuo Zhang

    This is such an eye-opening book! I learned so much about drugs cause neither me nor any people close to me have any experience with drugs. The deadly consequences of abusing the drugs including overdose has haunted me. The book is very well written with clear structure and through investigation. I would say the most amazing yet astonishing at the same time is the part talking about the source of the drugs. The reality is just way beyond my imagination. The last part of solution is also very inn This is such an eye-opening book! I learned so much about drugs cause neither me nor any people close to me have any experience with drugs. The deadly consequences of abusing the drugs including overdose has haunted me. The book is very well written with clear structure and through investigation. I would say the most amazing yet astonishing at the same time is the part talking about the source of the drugs. The reality is just way beyond my imagination. The last part of solution is also very innovative by reducing harm instead of eradication of drug use, which is not possible. A nonfiction book gives the most thrilling reading experience.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dramatika

    I've read so many excellent books this year, and this is one of the best! Very well researched and written for the the wide audience (even those who barely made it through high school chemistry can understand it). I've learned so much about not only the nature of opioids, but other narcotic substances and their impact as well. I especially appreciate author's unbiased and scientific approach to the sensitive topic of legalizing and decriminalizing the whole sphere of narcotics. The older I get t I've read so many excellent books this year, and this is one of the best! Very well researched and written for the the wide audience (even those who barely made it through high school chemistry can understand it). I've learned so much about not only the nature of opioids, but other narcotic substances and their impact as well. I especially appreciate author's unbiased and scientific approach to the sensitive topic of legalizing and decriminalizing the whole sphere of narcotics. The older I get the less interesting all these substances look to me, yet I wholeheartedly support his ideas. I learned so much very interesting facts about the fentanyl production and especially about the role China plays. Thank you for the wonderful book!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kristina

    This was a bit of a slog to get through. I’ve read a few books now on the opioid crisis- some focusing more on the addiction and others on the drug trade itself. I was intrigued about this book because I thought it would focus on fentanyl which is invading the country and causing so much havoc. So I was sort of frustrated that this book sort of meandered off path a fair bit, focusing large swaths on the development of drugs slightly different in makeup in order to evade the law, and not just fen This was a bit of a slog to get through. I’ve read a few books now on the opioid crisis- some focusing more on the addiction and others on the drug trade itself. I was intrigued about this book because I thought it would focus on fentanyl which is invading the country and causing so much havoc. So I was sort of frustrated that this book sort of meandered off path a fair bit, focusing large swaths on the development of drugs slightly different in makeup in order to evade the law, and not just fentanyl-like drugs. If I went into this book expecting it would be more about that I would have enjoyed it more.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Richard Santos

    Written with verve and a sense of mystery, this book challenges what you think you know about the drug crisis in the United States. Anyone interested in how we arrived here today should take this book very seriously. Any legislators or public health officials wanting to get a handle on the opioid crisis must take this book very seriously. Westhoff travels the country and the world talking to addicts, dealers, kingpins, dark web kings, Chinese pharma companies staffed by smiling salesmen, and mor Written with verve and a sense of mystery, this book challenges what you think you know about the drug crisis in the United States. Anyone interested in how we arrived here today should take this book very seriously. Any legislators or public health officials wanting to get a handle on the opioid crisis must take this book very seriously. Westhoff travels the country and the world talking to addicts, dealers, kingpins, dark web kings, Chinese pharma companies staffed by smiling salesmen, and more. The picture Westhoff paints is of a nation that doesn’t know what to do with drugs, how to handle a crisis, and who isn’t much interested in helping addicts. An exciting, enraging, propulsive read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Joan

    Original Gangstas was like a gentle walk through west coast hip hop history. This book was a thorough, rigorous hike through the multi-layered issue of the opioid epidemic. It is complicated and this is a great summary of it all, with solutions that have started to work in some places...if we could only shift more mindsets....

  23. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    Eye opening book about how the increasing demand for illegal drugs worldwide is being met by Chinese and other foreign chemical labs. These labs are creating synthetic versions of all the in demand illegal drugs.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    While this book is often long-winded—because the author does such a great job of thoroughly documenting his information, not just in footnotes—the subject matter of this book makes it necessary reading for any well-informed person, especially Americans. Harm reduction is vital, especially as America faces aggression from other countries in the form of drugs meant to kill us, and Westoff makes that abundantly clear.

  25. 5 out of 5

    David Ward

    Fentanyl, Inc: How Rogue Chemists Are Creating the Deadliest Wave of the Opiod Epidemic by Ben Westhoff (Atlantic Monthly Press 2019) (362.293) (3401).What a timely book! Some definitions are in order. Morphine and heroin are plant-based narcotics which are derived from a common flower. All plant-based narcotics are referred to as “opiates.” On the other hand, fentanyl is an incredibly powerful synthetic narcotic chemical compound which can only be created and produced in a chemistry laboratory. All synthetic narcotics are referre(3401).What Fentanyl, Inc: How Rogue Chemists Are Creating the Deadliest Wave of the Opiod Epidemic by Ben Westhoff (Atlantic Monthly Press 2019) (362.293) (3401).What a timely book! Some definitions are in order. Morphine and heroin are plant-based narcotics which are derived from a common flower. All plant-based narcotics are referred to as “opiates.” On the other hand, fentanyl is an incredibly powerful synthetic narcotic chemical compound which can only be created and produced in a chemistry laboratory. All synthetic narcotics are referred to as “opiods.”Fentanyl is widely used during surgery in the medical community without harm or danger. But fentanyl has escaped into the real world with deadly consequences, and author Ben Westoff in Fentanyl, Inc: How Rogue Chemists Are Creating the Deadliest Wave of the Opiod Epidemic has sounded the alarm.Here's the problem: fentanyl is described as “fifty to one-hundred times stronger than heroin.” To users, that means that the amount they must use to achieve the same effect is fifty to one-hundred-times less than a comparable dose of heroin. Westoff reports that this means that a non-fatal dose of fentanyl may be only as large as a couple of grains of table salt. Ingesting any more than that can cause cardiac arrest, so there is very little margin for error by the user.Since such a miniscule volume of fentanyl amounts to a full dose, this means that a big batch of the drug has a very small volume and is thus easy for smugglers to move across international borders. (The author's research makes clear that almost all of the street fentanyl smuggled into the US comes from factories in China or India.) Thus international smugglers adore fentanyl for the ease with which it can be secreted among legitimate goods and products in trans-continental shipping containers.And this leads to the two reasons why fentanyl represents such a huge danger. First, the actual end purchasers and users of almost every type of synthetic street drug are being unwittingly killed in outbreaks numbering in the hundreds because the drug wholesalers and lower-level street dealers are cutting fentanyl into other drugs to “boost the effect and the high” without the users' knowledge and in non-standardized amounts. In fact more and more opiates or opiods (heroin, oxycontin) as well synthetic recreational drugs (MDMA (Ecstasy), LSD, and synthetic analogues far to numerous to name) are being adulterated by the dealers, both to boost the high and because fentanyl is cheaper than the pure substances which the purchasers believe they are buying. People – addicts as well as occasional recreational psychonauts – are dying by the scores from accidental overdoses of a drug they didn't know they had used or purchased, for passing few of the users have any idea that their dose contains fentanyl.The second reason that fentanyl poses such a huge danger lies in its chemical structure. When a government declares a drug illegal, the statute banning that substance must specify precisely the exact chemical structure of the compound. This is called “scheduling” a drug. The problem is that when the government bans a newly-created synthetic opioid (also known as a “Novel Psychoactive Substance” or NPS) by scheduling it, only a substance made of that exact identical chemical structure and atomic makeup is covered by the ban.This is the point where the “rogue chemists” referenced by Ben Westoff in this book's title are at their most dangerous. For knowledgeable chemists, it is child's play to tweak a scheduled substance by adding a single atom or atomic group onto a complex molecule of known formula. This results in a NEW "Novel Psychoactive Substance" with a completely different chemical compound and formula than the outlawed “scheduled” drug. The critical difference is that, since the new compound has a completely different chemcal formula, it is therefore NOT scheduled and is thus completely legal to synthesize, import and market.This is the point at which the Chinese chemical factories fit into this saga. From a Western point of view, the Chinese government often declines to rein in factories which create, produce, sell, and distribute these new substances which the Western governments have scheduled / banned. However, from the perspective of the Chinese government, just because the West bans a product which is produced in China does not necessarily make that product harmful or dangerous to China or to Chinese citizens. China thus deems it unnecessary to make such chemical compounds illegal under Chinese law. Therefore, Novel Psychoactive Substances which are banned in the US often remain completely legal in China. This means that Chinese producers are free to manufacture and market these drugs like any other legal product. The Chinese authorities believe that the Western drug problem arises not from the availability of the chemicals but from the failure of Western governments to control and crack down on their citizen-users, according to Westoff.It has been proven many times in US history that prohibition does not work. Generally speaking, attempts by authorities to eradicate a drug - ANY drug – has shown that users will search until they find a substitute with comparable effects. History has demonstrated time and again that these newly-substituted formulations are as a rule far more harmful to both users and to society than the originally banned substance.Nice work, Ben Westoff, for presenting cutting-edge information on a level which can be understood by knowledgeable readers.My rating: 7.5/10, finished 10/22/19 (3401).

  26. 5 out of 5

    Emily Nelson

    Very informative, but very complicated I started reading this book, and I liked the first chapter. However, the subsequent chapters were kind of a crap shoot. It's VERY clear the author did a lot of research, and it had to be time consuming and even scary to venture where he went, to talk to people who could have easily made him disappear. I had a feeling Prince did not know Fentanyl was in the pill he took that killed him. And it killed him very quickly. I don't excuse Prince's drug use; I kn Very informative, but very complicated I started reading this book, and I liked the first chapter. However, the subsequent chapters were kind of a crap shoot. It's VERY clear the author did a lot of research, and it had to be time consuming and even scary to venture where he went, to talk to people who could have easily made him disappear. I had a feeling Prince did not know Fentanyl was in the pill he took that killed him. And it killed him very quickly. I don't excuse Prince's drug use; I know he had legitimate pain from one hip replacement operation, and he needed another. That being said, he got the pills from his doctor, and they looked just like oxycontin, they were even marked exactly like that pill is marked, very professional job, by very horrible people who get these drugs knowing there is fentanyl in the pills. How MUCH, they aren't sure. Due to Prince's diminutive size, it wouldn't take much to kill him. Fentanyl is 50 times more powerful than heroin, and the amazing thing to me was the fact that many heroin users don't LIKE fentanyl. The high is different, and the withdrawal is horrible, plus every four hours, the user needs more! It's expensive, and such small amount can be so deadly. I learned a lot, but much of this book needs to be translated by chemists so people like me can understand the jargon. I'm married to a surgeon and he helped translate SOME things, but so much of it went over his head too. I had a huge problem with the author's explaining exactly what kind of browser people needed to use in order to enter the dark web undetected! GREAT information for those who may want to get into the business of selling or buying fentanyl from China! Most of the fentanyl that comes into the U.S. and other countries comes from China. The Chinese change a molecule here or there, and then what they ship here is not illegal in China, so it's not a crime. Bottom line; people are dropping dead, whether they are at Raves and think they are taking ecstasy, or shooting up what they think is heroin. So many kinds of drugs, from marijuana to ecstasy to heroin now has fentanyl in it. In St. Louis, there's no pure heroin anymore. THAT is pretty amazing. There is no perfect answer for this horrible problem. Hospitals and Physicians NEED this drug for anesthesia, and for late stage cancer pain or other unmanageable pain. But no one gets sent home with a bottle of fentanyl. So people with the know how just make it. And they can make it anywhere. First, they have to get the main ingredient from China, which they can by just using USPS! This is not supposed to happen, yet it continues. Fentanyl can be smuggled in easily, as just a tiny amount is all that's needed. Mexico is also in the game now, as growing poppies there is risky, so they just make Fentanyl..... and Meth, cocaine, and every other nasty drug they can. We're not going to stop all this by filling our prisons with drug USERS. They have a disease. Drug SELLERS and drug SMUGGLERS? Prison, and for a very long time. When all else fails, we NEED free services like " DanceSafe " to help those who attend Raves and music festivals, about what to be wary of, what the deadly stuff can look like, Suboxone so IT's can be reversed, and health professionals can educate users and MAYBE get them the help they need. Instead, the police shut down services like DanceSafe, why, I don't know. They're not promoting drugs, they are trying to keep people from dying by educating them! It's all done pro bono. Lastly, safe places where those who are addicted to heroin need to stay open, so if someone MUST shoot up, they can find out if fentanyl is in their heroin, get clean needles, access to treatment, and much more. " Just Say No" NEVER worked; it's ridiculous. What to do? Build the Wall, hold China accountable, and ENFORCE the law we have now that says China must not ship fentanyl to the US. They ship so much horrible garbage here as it is, let's stop them from shipping DEATH POWDER here. Funny thing. Dealers like to mix fentanyl into whatever they sell. It's instantly addicting, and even though their clients are more likely to die, it's not a deterrent. Junkies find out about a drug that makes people OD, and they want to try it, as the high must be incredible! So, they then get addicted to fentanyl. In China, very few people use this drug, they don't like cocaine or Ecstasy. Makes me wonder if the Chinese plan to take our country down from the inside. Scary stuff. I had to skip lots of pages in this book because of the street names of drugs, the abbreviations, the chemical compounds, and SO much more information I just could not decipher. It's great someone is writing about this danger and where it's coming from, but it often seemed like the author was bragging about how smart he was, or his vast knowledge of chemistry. Give us a book that helps us know WHY this is happening and how we must stop it. As far as following people who were addicted? A few mentions of one couple were thrown in. Misleading.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sebastian

    It's late 2019. The opioid epidemic everyone was talking about last year -- that's all fixed, right? Wrong. Deaths per year may be very marginally down from late 2017, but we are still likely to be north of 100 overdose deaths per day: check out CDC numbers here. To the extent that you agree 40,000 or more working age Americans dying unnecessarily every year is a crisis, I'd say we are still in a crisis. Interestingly most of these deaths are linked not to traditional prescription opioids, heroin, and th It's late 2019. The opioid epidemic everyone was talking about last year -- that's all fixed, right? Wrong. Deaths per year may be very marginally down from late 2017, but we are still likely to be north of 100 overdose deaths per day: check out CDC numbers here. To the extent that you agree 40,000 or more working age Americans dying unnecessarily every year is a crisis, I'd say we are still in a crisis. Interestingly most of these deaths are linked not to traditional prescription opioids, heroin, and the like, but rather novel, synthetic drugs like fentanyl and its derivatives. (To me this, this is like the obesity epidemic (pull up obesity prevalence trends by year), one of those crazy intractable problems that we should be talking about far more frequently.) Fentanyl, Inc. is the about the proliferation of Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS) in the United States in the 2000s and 2010s, in particular the rise of fentanyl, and and (the best part of the book) an investigation into the factories in China that are pumping out these chemicals and their precursors for export. The basic story goes: we all know about marijuana, and heroin, and LSD. These have been around forever. But if you dig into organic chemistry literature, it turns out scientists have found and published on thousands of synthetic compounds that have similar effects to each of these drugs. K2 and synthetic cannabinoids recapitulate the effects of marijuana. 25-NBOMe is a lot like LSD apparently, although there is a slightly metallic taste to it. And so on. Although the 1986 Federal Analogues Act hypothetically makes all of these as illegal to make, own, and use as the original drugs, it can be quite hard to keep track of all these and develop good tests for then and identify all the relevant precursors. The sheer complexity of regulating all these compounds created cracks in the system, and then the Dark Web and drove a truck through the opening. I'd be willing to wager if you spent an hour searching for an analogue of drug of your choice on Google, you would be able to find a website that would ship it to you as a "research chemical" at a reasonable price. Enter fentanyl and its derivatives. It's essentially a synthetic heroin but zillions of times more potent. There's some analogy that a suitcase full of the stuff represents about as many doses as an 18-wheeler filled with the traditional stuff. And by the way, you can modify it in many different ways. Stick a methyl group on there. You've got a different compound (3-methyl fentanyl) but the functionality is about the same. Because of its compact form, and that there are so many different derivatives, and then so many different precursors that can be used to make fentanyl or an analogue, stemming the supply is tough. Drug lords in Mexico started to realize this -- much easier to buy fentanyl, a derivative, or precursors and ship to the US than move plants around -- and began introducing it to the US. The issue is that because of its potency relative to rx drugs and heroin, fentanyl and analogues are incredibly difficult to dose correctly. A half of a grain of sand can be the difference between getting high and getting dead. Americans buying these drugs need to be incredibly careful with how much to take, while simultaneously not knowing precisely what they are buying (what molecule is it exactly? How pure is it?) -- a recipe for frequently taking too much, with reliably tragic consequences. In China there is apparently no analogue act. The CFDA will ban one analogue or precursor at a time, but factories simply find the next fentanyl analogue or precursor and resume sending it by the boat load to Mexico, where it's cut or adulterated and / or packaged up in haphazard ways to then shipped up to America where it kills folks in Ohio or New England (who, as mentioned, can never be terribly sure of what they are using). The most frustrating part of the book here were the undercover interviews with Chinese factory owners. They know exactly what they are doing. My impression is that it isn't a devious ploy to bring down America but willful neglect to make money. More insultingly, the CCP offers free land and tax rebates to many of these chemical companies (midsize producers that make many legitimate things too). Again, hard to know if that's spite or just incompetence, I tend to think the latter. I am not entirely sure there's an effective way to slow down supply although we should try. I think the best solution will have to be fixing our demand problem. That's a thorny one.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Amy Jo

    Tl;dr: If you use non-prescribed drugs in the U.S., please be cautious with dosage because so much of that stuff is cut/mixed with so many other stronger and dangerous drugs like fentanyl that you could seriously overdose. Also, have a friend around who will do the right thing if things go south. First off, I am 75 percent sure that my Midwestern mouth and brain has probably been saying 'Fentanyl' different than most Americans up til finishing this book when I read that one section se Tl;dr: If you use non-prescribed drugs in the U.S., please be cautious with dosage because so much of that stuff is cut/mixed with so many other stronger and dangerous drugs like fentanyl that you could seriously overdose. Also, have a friend around who will do the right thing if things go south. First off, I am 75 percent sure that my Midwestern mouth and brain has probably been saying 'Fentanyl' different than most Americans up til finishing this book when I read that one section set in St. Louis. After a quick Google search, I am doubly sure. Give me any drug name beyond acetaminophen and I am bound to butcher it. Anyway, screw it, I am still calling it 'Fenta-null'. Take that, prescriptive linguistics. OK, so I choosing between this book about a major player in the American opioid crisis and a book about PTSD treatments; ya'know, light reading. Choose this book because it a) had a prettier cover even though the title feels so tired and done before and b) I knew very little about both subjects but I was sure I knew the least about Fentanyl. Ergo, read this drug book. Things I liked: -Thorough research (seems to me as a lazy person who did not fact-check) and first-person interviews which I expected of a journalist. -So much information without too much judgment of an anecdote's drug users; empathy amongst the mountains of data was a good grounding of why it's an epidemic hurting people and communities. -Westhoff is not afraid to show off how his hip-hop/rap knowledge from writing two books about the subject--which out of everything I read was the most surprising since he looks like the reporter he is or a mid-level politician or the new stepfather to a nice beagle--in order to gain the trust of drug dealer willing to speak. -All the deceivingly fun nicknames the drugs receive (meow meow and ice cream are my favorite) and all of the a bit on the nose usernames of Dark Web distributors (U4IA for all those fans of that HBO series and high_as_fxck_GER for all those edgy German dealers). -It was nice that Westhoff would spell out acronyms again after a long time to refresh my memory if he last spelled it out like two chapters ago. -Does not only explain the problem without also giving many actions that take place elsewhere or is gaining traction that could ameliorate the situation. Things I disliked: -So many drugs with so many names and analogues it is difficult to keep everything straight even with the reiteration of what drug category it belongs to and whether or not it is scheduled. The little index of the drugs mentioned in the book was a handy touch though. -The name is a bit deceiving if you did not pay attention to the subtitle. This book has to focus on the entire U.S. opioid epidemic in order to explain how fentanyl has changed the game. However, that means some readers may not be prepared for all of the non-fentanyl drugs explained and discussed in many of the chapters. -In general, it sucks that people know that they sell things illicitly that hurt other people and they continue to do it because money and sometimes status. Also, addiction freaking blows. A bit dense of a read with all of the data and drug names. Still, very informative and gives a good insight of what can be done to help the situation and why the U.S. government and agencies currently are not jumping to try all of the programs that had varying degrees of success when implemented in other countries. P.S. Be safe with drug use, everyone. Also, if you create a pharmaceutical drug that is not deadly nor addictive please give it a cute nickname.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sharon S

    Informative, educational, real, stunning. This book is an excellent reference, and educational material on a very difficult topic for the United States. It covers historical data with respect to major drugs and how they have impacted the people in United States of America. Shocking to say the least and extremely important for everyone to know. This book should be a mandatory read for middle school students. It's filled with accurate references in the end of the book for eac Informative, educational, real, stunning. This book is an excellent reference, and educational material on a very difficult topic for the United States. It covers historical data with respect to major drugs and how they have impacted the people in United States of America. Shocking to say the least and extremely important for everyone to know. This book should be a mandatory read for middle school students. It's filled with accurate references in the end of the book for each source quotation. I was shocked to learn about this new drug Fentanyl and how it's killing millions of people, plus the dealers like using it to enhance what they already have. I also like how the book provides the chemical makeup of the drugs and how the interact with the human body in addition to how they are being used to this current date. After reading this book it's clear to me that the drug problem with have is an epidemic, needing to be addressed immediately. This book is a must have for every person, "knowledge is power" and this is what Fentanyl, Inc gives as a wonderful gift. Power to learn about something that can kill you and take away everything you have and love. Don't do drugs. Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for the eread Kindle copy to review.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Justin

    I received this book, for free, in exchange for an honest review. The author has certainly done his homework. This book describes the history, causes, mitigation attempts and novel potential solutions. Prior to reading this I was somewhat versed in the topic via a podcast I listened to, but I still learned plenty. On the other hand, the book can read a bit slowly and if you aren't interested in the depth provided it might be too much. I don't think this was the point of the book, but I learned a I received this book, for free, in exchange for an honest review. The author has certainly done his homework. This book describes the history, causes, mitigation attempts and novel potential solutions. Prior to reading this I was somewhat versed in the topic via a podcast I listened to, but I still learned plenty. On the other hand, the book can read a bit slowly and if you aren't interested in the depth provided it might be too much. I don't think this was the point of the book, but I learned about synthetic compounds in general. I have sleep issues and synthetic non mind altering compounds (including some of the jwh ones) held some interest for me. I now am rightfully terrified of unvetted compounds. I also think every parent will probably need to discuss/lend a book like this to their children. I can imagine fake marijuana and other legal highs being something that every parent should know about. I now feel that anything that is bought outside of an online vendor with hundreds of ratings (or at least a COA) is subject to adulteration and this is probably considerably worse for vendors selling illegal products.

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