SHORTLISTED for the 2021 BC Book Awards' George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature
SHORTLISTED for the BC and Yukon Book Prizes, for both the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize and Jim Deva Prize for Writing That Provokes
SHORTLISTED for the 2021 J. W. Dafoe Book Prize
“Overdose is a necessary and searching investigation into a devastating epidemic that should never have happened. Benjamin Perrin painstakingly shows that it need not continue if we, as a society, heed the evidence.”
—Gabor Maté M.D., author of In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction
An astonishing and powerful look at the ongoing opioid crisis
North America is in the middle of a health emergency. Life expectancies are declining. Someone is dying every two hours in Canada from illicit drug overdose. Fentanyl has become a looming presence—an opioid more powerful, pervasive, and deadly than any previous street drug.
The victims are many—and often not whom we might expect. They include the poor and forgotten but also our neighbours: professionals, students, and parents. Despite the thousands of deaths, these victims have remained largely invisible.
But not anymore. Benjamin Perrin, a law and policy expert, shines a light in this darkest of corners—and his findings challenge many assumptions about the crisis. Why do people use drugs despite the risk of overdosing? Can we crack down on the fentanyl supply? Do supervised consumption sites and providing “safe drugs” enable the problem? Which treatments work? Would decriminalizing all drugs help or do further harm?
In this urgent and humane look at a devastating epidemic, Perrin draws on behind-the-scenes interviews with those on the frontlines, including undercover police officers, intelligence analysts, border agents, prosecutors, healthcare professionals, Indigenous organizations, activists, and people who use drugs. Not only does he unveil the many complexities of this situation, but he also offers a new way forward—one that may save thousands of lives.