An antidrug activist recounts her efforts to fight overprescription of opioid drugs in Florida.
In this debut, Colbert recounts the efforts of her organization, STOPPNow (Stop the Organized Pill Pushers Now), to close down “pill mills”—medical clinics that prescribe and dispense large quantities of painkillers—and to strengthen the laws regulating addictive prescription drugs. She explains the origins of her devotion to the cause (as a neonatal nurse, she treated many babies who were born with withdrawal symptoms) and she shares stories of other activists who’ve lost loved ones to overdoses and other drug-related fatalities. The book describes meetings with state and federal legislators, and Colbert’s sense of frustration is palpable as she tells of years of unsuccessful efforts to implement regulations. Her accounts are interspersed with emails to and from government officials. In text and photographs, she documents her organization’s protests outside clinics and its attempts to raise awareness of the scope of the opioid epidemic. The book’s second half consists of transcripts from the murder trial of a high-prescribing doctor, annotated by Colbert, who observed most of the trial personally. Appendices contain the Centers for Disease Control’s current recommendations for prescribing opioids and a letter from former Surgeon General Vivek Murthey. Colbert’s passion for her cause is evident throughout this book, and she makes a convincing case for the complicity of medical professionals who profit from dispensing large quantities of drugs. At one point, for instance, she points out that there are “more [clinics] than McDonalds” in Broward County. The excerpts from her correspondence also make it clear that she doesn’t mince words when she fights for what she believes (“You should be ashamed to hold or run for office in our state if you have no intention of closing the pain clinics,” she wrote in 2010 to then-Florida Gov. Charlie Crist). However, the text isn’t always well-organized; the many anecdotes that make up the book’s first half often feel unconnected to one another, and the amount of space that Colbert gives to trial transcripts seems excessive.
An impassioned, if sometimes-scattered, attack on the spread of opioids and their impact on communities.