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CHOOSE ONE OF THE FOLLOWING TWO OPTIONS FOR THIS WEEK’S ASSIGNMENT
Option A. Read the excerpts from Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones posted to Blackboard. Write a 1-page paper that addresses the following: The three excerpts from Dreamland describe some of the community- and society-level factors that likely contributed to the opiate epidemic. Choose one of these factors and briefly describe it, then discuss how public health is or could address this factor. Cite any sources you use OTHER than Dreamland.
A description of Dreamland: In 1929, in the blue-collar city of Portsmouth, Ohio, a company built a swimming pool the size of a football field; named Dreamland, it became the vital center of the community. Now, addiction has devastated Portsmouth, as it has hundreds of small rural towns and suburbs across America—addiction like no other the country has ever faced. How that happened is the riveting story of Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic. Acclaimed journalist Sam Quinones weaves together two riveting tales of capitalism run amok whose unintentional collision has been a catastrophic opiate epidemic.
The unfettered prescribing of pain medications during the 1990s reached its peak in Purdue Pharma’s campaign to market OxyContin, its new, expensive—extremely addictive—miracle painkiller. Meanwhile, a massive influx of black tar heroin—cheap, potent, and originating from one small county, Xalisco, Nayarit, on Mexico’s west coast and independent of any drug cartel, assaulted small towns and mid-sized cities across the country, driven by a brilliant, almost unbeatable marketing and distribution system. Together these phenomena continue to lay waste to communities from Tennessee to Oregon, Indiana to New Mexico.
Finally, Quinones finds hope in the same Rust Belt river town that led the country into the opiate epidemic – Portsmouth, Ohio, where townspeople are turning away from dependence and toward economic as well as municipal self-reliance, and, with that, recovery. Introducing a memorable cast of characters—pharma pioneers, young Mexican entrepreneurs, narcotics investigators, survivors, and parents —Quinones shows how these tales fit together. Dreamland is a revelatory account of the corrosive threat facing America and its heartland.
Option B. Read the excerpts from Plague of Prisons: The Epidemiology of Mass Incarceration in America by Ernest Drucker posted to Blackboard. Write a 1-page paper that addresses the following: The excerpts from Plague of Prisons describe some of the community- and society-level factors that contributed to the mass incarceration of U.S. citizens. Choose one of these factors and briefly describe it, then discuss how public health is or could address this factor. Cite any sources you use OTHER than Plague of Prisons.
A description of Plague of Prisons: When Dr. John Snow first traced an outbreak of cholera to a water pump in the Soho district of London in 1854, the field of epidemiology was born. Ernest Drucker’s A Plague of Prisons takes the same concepts and tools of public health that have successfully tracked epidemics of flu, tuberculosis, and AIDS to make the case that our current unprecedented level of imprisonment has become an epidemic. Drucker passionately argues that imprisonment—originally conceived as a response to the crimes of individuals—has become mass incarceration: a destabilizing force, a plague upon our body politic, that undermines families and communities, damaging the very social structures that prevent crime. Described as a “towering achievement” (Ira Glasser) and “the clearest and most intelligible case for a reevaluation of how we view incarceration” (Spectrum Culture), A Plague of Prisons offers a cutting-edge perspective on criminal justice in 21st century America that “could help to shame the U.S. public into demanding remedial action” (The Lancet).