Seminar to explore rise in fentanyl, substance use trends | News

SOUTH BEND — Oaklawn will host Sam Quinones, author and veteran reporter on immigration, gangs, and drug trafficking, at events on May 4 and 5, exploring trends in substance use and how communities across the US are supporting prevention, treatment, and recovery.

Quinones is a Los Angeles-based freelance journalist, a reporter of 35 years, and the author of four acclaimed books of narrative nonfiction. He is a veteran reporter on immigration, gangs, drug trafficking, the border. He is formerly a reporter with the LA Times, where he worked for 10 years. Before that, I have made a living as a freelance writer residing in Mexico for a decade. His latest book, released in November 2021, is “The Least of Us: True Tales of America and Hope in the Time of Fentanyl and Meth.”

In the book, Quinones chronicles the emergence of a drug-trafficking world producing massive supplies of dope cheaper and deadlier than ever, marketing to the population of addicts created by the nation’s opioid epidemic, as the backdrop to such of Americans’ quiet attempts to recover community through simple acts of helping the vulnerable. In January 2022, “The Least of Us” was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award for Best Nonfiction Book of 2021.

“The Least of Us” follows his landmark 2015 book “Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic,” which ignited awareness of the epidemic that has cost the United States hundreds of thousands of lives and become the deadliest drug scourge in the nation’s history . “Dreamland” won a National Book Critics Circle Award for the Best Nonfiction Book of 2015. It was also selected as one of the Best Books of 2015 by, the Daily Beast, Buzzfeed, Seattle Times, Boston Globe, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Entertainment Weekly, Audible, and in the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg Business by Nobel economics laureate, Prof. Angus Deaton, of Princeton University.

In 2019, “Dreamland” was selected as one of the Best 10 True-Crime Books of all time based on lists, surveys, and ratings of more than 90 million readers. Also in 2019, selected “Dreamland” as one of the 50 best nonfiction books of the last 25 years. In 2021, GQ Magazine selected Dreamland as one of the “50 Best Books of Literary Journalism of the 21st Century.”

For “Dreamland,” Quinones has testified before the US Senate’s Health Committee, numerous professional conferences of judges, doctors, librarians, hospital administrators, and at more than two-dozen town hall meetings in small towns across the country.

A Young Adult version of Dreamland, for 7th through 12th graders, was released in July 2019.

In partnership with the St. Joe County Public Library, Quinones will speak at a free community event from 6-7:30 pm May 4 at the main branch Community Learning Center., 304 S. Main St., South Bend. Pre-registration for the free event is available online at He will speak about his journey by him chronicling the progression of American drug use, from the silent opioid epidemic to the rise of fentanyl and other substances, and how that progression impacts American social systems. He’ll also share true, inspiring stories of the people he met along the way.

Quinones will also be the featured speaker at a community-wide professional training, “On the frontlines of America’s drug epidemic: Opioids, fentanyl, meth, and our response” on May 5. Indiana Drug Czar Douglas Huntsinger will also speak about state initiatives to combat substance use and support treatment, followed by a panel of local change-agents. Panelists include the Hon. Gretchen Lund, Elkhart County Drug Court Judge; Brandon Zabukovic, MD, Michiana Opioid Task Force and Medication-Assisted Treatment advocate; Becky Savage, President and Co-Founder of the 525 Foundation, and John Horsley, Oaklawn’s Vice President of Adult and Addiction Services. This half-day seminar, offered in the morning and repeated in the afternoon, will be held at Sammlung Platz in Nappanee and costs $75, which includes 3 CEUs for mental health clinicians. Register for this event at

Due to the widespread impact of addiction, the conference is designed for diverse professionals from the fields of mental health, medicine, justice system, corrections, homeless outreach, schools, youth organizations, churches, and anyone working with people facing addiction.


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