The Florida Bar

Florida Bar Journal

Law and Addiction

Book Reviews

Addiction book coverJake Rutledge, a smart student, was a brand-new law school graduate and attorney, originally from Oakley, West Virginia. Oakley was a mining town and when Jake returns after graduation, he finds his hometown’s economy deteriorated and has become ground zero for pill mills. The familiar faces he once knew are now zombielike as a result of addiction and drug abuse. Moreover, just before his scheduled graduation his fraternal twin, Blake, passed as a result of an opioid overdose. Blake became another statistic in the opiate abuse epidemic and ignited a fire in Jake to use his education and new career to seek justice for Blake by holding all parties responsible for the epidemic account, including corporate opioid distributors, politicians, and community leaders.

The author of Law and Addiction, Mike Papantonio, is a member of the Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame, who has taken on corporate opioid distributors himself. The first part of the book starts with Jake’s background and relationships. It provides insight into the hard-working people of Oakley and how the town and its citizens fell into the downward spiral when the pill mills moved in.

Despite Jake’s scholarly achievements, he graduated without a job and without much opportunity in Oakley; he was forced to hang his own shingle right away. He was determined to take on “big pharma,” motivated by the passing of his brother. Jake was determined to seek justice for Blake and so many others in his community and to hold the companies and key players in the community responsible for their roles in creating the opioid epidemic plaguing communities just like his across America.

In the beginning of Jake’s crusade, he knows that he cannot take on big pharma alone and seeks an experienced mentor, but the more serious he is taken, the more desperate the drug companies are to stop him before he gains any traction. As Jake uncovers more evidence of community leaders’ corruption and ultimate connections to the opioid crises, the more his own life is threatened in their desperate and ruthless attempts to stop him.

Although the book itself is fiction, it highlights a too-often ignored issue in this country that is often blamed on the victims, rather than those responsible for the access and addiction to narcotics. Throughout the book, the data that is uncovered and how the major players in Oakley created the “Zombieland” that it has become paints the picture of Anywhere, USA. The author’s passion for this issue is nothing short of eye-opening. Moreover, the main character’s refusal to quit, even when his own life is in imminent peril, and his determination to survive in order to see that justice is served makes for thrilling read.

Kara L. Stachel of Ft. Lauderdale is a member of The Florida Bar.