This book takes a comprehensive look at the rise of opiate use in America over the past few decades.

Two major themes stood out to me in the book. The first the accounts of alert professionals who first discovered the issue of overprescribed opiates (an epidemiologist and an employee of the Washington state workers’ compensation agency; p. 247).

The second major theme is the entrepreneurial nature of Nayarit drug traffickers (p. 54). These dealers lived by one rule: no violence. Instead of using violence to compete, they offered more convenience to their customers.

This raises a question about the key premise of the book, however. If users were really addicted and going to buy it no matter what, wouldn’t they be willing to go to greater lengths to obtain it? It seems that the convenience played a major role in keeping users on opiates.

As a minor side note, the role of Levi 501’s in the Nayarit economy is interesting in its own right. Why were they such prized possessions? Is it because they were durable and stayed in style for a long time? Or was there some sort of tariff that made Levi 501’s especially expensive in Mexico?

Readers who are interested in this book will also enjoy the interview with the author on the Econtalk podcast.