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Journalist and author Sam Quinones documented the growing drug problem in America in articles, interviews, and in his most recent books of narrative nonfiction, The Least of Us: True Tales of America and Hope in the Time of Fentanyl and Meth (2021) and Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic, which was selected as one of Amazon.com’s Best Books of 2015 and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. The Mental Health and Recovery Board of Ashland County is thrilled to welcome Quinones to Ashland as the keynote speaker for our RSVP Conference.
Quinones has a history of immersing himself into the setting of those whose lives he covers to fully understand what their experiences are like. He lived in Mexico for 10 years as a freelance writer, covering stories on the country’s politics, immigration, gang members, and taco vendors. While in Mexico, he interacted with drag queens and recovering drug addicts, street gangs and congressmen, polygamous Mormons and promoters of the Tijuana opera scene.
Following his stint in Mexico, Quinones worked from 2004-2014 as a reporter for the L.A. Times covering immigration, drug trafficking, neighborhood stories, and gangs. Out of this season came his award-winning book, Dreamland.
Dreamland garnered much recognition when it was released. The book catalogs the explosive impact of addiction on communities across the country. Combining his abilities as a storyteller with his fact-gathering expertise as a reporter, Quinones deftly narrates the catastrophic consequences of prescribing the highly addictive painkiller OxyContin in the 90s and the massive influx of black tar heroin throughout the nation, and how these two collided to ravage towns across the U.S. to this day.
Quinones’ follow-up book, The Least of Us: True Tales of America and Hope in the Time of Fentanyl and Meth, which was published just last fall, documents the next stages of the opioid epidemic. How has the situation evolved, and what is being done in communities hit by addiction, mental illness, and homelessness? The book investigates how drug use has been transformed in the last few years, particularly how the synthetic drug fentanyl is infiltrating communities and destroying lives.
To write The Least of Us, Quinones hit the road again, to investigate Mexican drug traffickers and the towns across the United States that are rallying with fierce hope and relentless faith to rally around those who are most often forgotten and discarded by society, “illuminating the striking truth that we are only as strong as our most vulnerable.”
Quinones will speak at the MHRB of Ashland County’s annual RSVP Conference on March 30, 2022. Mark your calendars and come prepared to be challenged and inspired by hope for the future of our communities.
Register for the RSVP Conference today and watch this short clip to learn more about Quinones’ most recent book: