‘Dreamland’ author Sam Quinones to visit VCU, speak on opioid epidemic

Author’s talk is one of numerous campus and community events exploring the book and the ongoing opioid crisis.

Share this story

Sam Quinones, author of “Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic,” will visit Virginia Commonwealth University in early November and give a talk about the book and the opioid crisis that has devastated communities across the country and across Virginia.

Quinones will speak at 6 p.m. on Nov. 6 at the W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts, 922 Park Ave. The event will be free and open to the public. Registration is not required, and seating will be offered on a first-come basis.

“Dreamland,” which tells the story of the rise of heroin and painkiller addiction in the United States, is this year’s VCU common book. The Common Book Program is a universitywide initiative focused on welcoming first-year students into the intellectual culture of VCU and engaging the university and Richmond communities with a book that explores complex societal issues through an interdisciplinary lens.

“The opioid epidemic touches all of us either directly or indirectly,” said Shelli Fowler, Ph.D., interim dean of University College and director of the Common Book Program. “There has been a recent upsurge in awareness of the opioid crisis, and choosing ‘Dreamland’ as this year’s common book allows us to collectively discuss the complex systemic causes of the crisis and explore ways to address the crisis.”

Quinones will answer questions and give VCU students, faculty, staff and community members insight into the opioid epidemic, as well as into his process of researching and writing “Dreamland.”

“Having the author speak on campus provides our first-year students, as well as the broader VCU and Richmond communities, an opportunity to hear him talk about the investigative work he did for the book and to learn more about the author’s perspective on the opioid epidemic,” Fowler said.

Quinones’ campus visit is one of several events exploring the themes of “Dreamland” being held this fall as part of the Common Book Program. The events include:

  •  Speaker Series on Addiction and Recovery
    7 p.m. on Oct. 4, Nov. 1 and Dec. 6 in room 1107 of the Academic Learning Commons, 1000 Floyd Ave.
    Each event features VCU students and alumni sharing their recovery stories. Each talk will be followed by Q&A. Sponsored by VCU’s Wellness Resource Center.

  • "The Opioid Epidemic, ‘Dreamland’ & Mindfulness: Overlapping Trends, Different Outcomes"
    12:30-1:30 p.m. on Sept. 19 at the VCU Honors College, 701 W. Grace St.
    Featuring Linda Hancock, director of the Wellness Resource Center, and VCU student Kevin Britton.
  • Common Book Panel Discussions
    Sponsored by the International/Inner City/Rural Preceptorship program in the School of Medicine, this series will feature panelists from the VCU and Richmond communities who will discuss addiction, treatment and recovery through legal and medical lenses.

    The first panel will be held 5:30-7 p.m. on Oct. 11 in room 1201 of the Academic Learning Commons. It will feature Danielle Dick, Ph.D., a professor in the Departments of Psychology, African American Studies and Human & Molecular Genetics, and director of the College Behavioral and Emotional Health Institute in the College of Humanities and Sciences, and Richmond community activist Christopher Rashad Green.

    The second panel will be held from 4:30-6:30 p.m. on Nov. 16, in the auditorium of the Hermes A. Kontos Medical Sciences Building, 1217 E. Marshall St. It will feature Sebastian Tong, M.D., assistant professor in the School of Medicine and co-director of the Virginia Ambulatory Care Outcomes Research Network, and Kate Neuhausen, M.D., chief medical officer of the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services.


The events complement a variety of discussions of “Dreamland” on campus and in the Richmond community.

During VCU’s Welcome Week, incoming students participated in discussion groups about “Dreamland” led by VCU faculty, staff and graduate students. Additionally, the first-year students are continuing to engage with the book as part of the UNIV 111 and 112 Focused Inquiry curriculum.

In October, informal discussions will bring together students from Focused Inquiry classes, the university’s living-learning programs, the Graduate School, and the MCV campus to consider “Dreamland” through different disciplinary lenses.

The new class of VCU Police Department cadets will participate in a discussion led by Micol Hutchison, Ph.D., director of program development and student success in University College, as part of the cadets’ training for working at VCU.

On Nov. 2, in partnership with VCU’s Health Sciences Academy, Focused Inquiry students will visit John Marshall High School to discuss the medical, social and societal issues arising from the opioid epidemic.

“We partner with units across campus and in Richmond to provide more opportunities for students to gain additional insight into the topic,” Fowler said. “This year our colleagues at the Well and COBE have partnered with us to offer educational programming. In addition to our speaker panels, we are working with the VCU Health Sciences Academy, a program that engages John Marshall High School students in curriculum that prepares them for health professions.”

“All the events bring an expanded focus to the issue at hand,” she added. “This year the Graduate School, the School of Dentistry and the School of Pharmacy have also provided books for their entering students.”

The Common Book Program is also working this year with VCU’s ASPiRE living-learning community in support of its work with Sarah Scarbrough, Ph.D., director of the Recovering from Everyday Addictive Lifestyle (REAL) Programat the Richmond City Justice Center.

“The RCJC residents are reading [“Dreamland”] this fall, and as the 2017 VCU Common Book author-in-residence, Sam Quinones will make a visit to RCJC and speak with participants in the REAL Program while he is here,” Fowler said.

Copies of “Dreamland” are available to be checked out from both James Branch Cabell Library on the Monroe Park campus and the Tompkins-McCaw Library for the Health Sciences on the MCV campus. Copies also are available for purchase at campus Barnes & Noble bookstores and other area book shops.