Dopesick Characters

The main characters in Dopesick include Beth Macy, Ed Bisch, and Tess Henry.

  • Beth Macy, the author of Dopesick, is a journalist who investigates the rise of the opioid crisis and its impact on the area around her hometown of Roanoke, Virginia.
  • Ed Bisch is a founding member of the activist group Relatives Against Purdue Pharma and the creator of, which he launched after losing his son to an overdose.
  • Tess Henry is a young woman from Hidden Valley, Virginia, who becomes addicted to heroin. She struggles to achieve sobriety and is ultimately murdered.


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Last Updated on August 7, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 3047

Beth Macy

Beth Macy is a journalist and bestselling nonfiction author. In her award-winning book Dopesick, she investigates the roots and impact of the American opioid epidemic. Macy focuses in particular on the rise of the addictive opioid prescription painkiller OxyContin in Virginia, including in her own town of Roanoke. Through extensive research and interviews with those directly affected—including young recovering addicts and grieving parents turned activists—she explores the crisis’s origins and its devastating effects on individuals and communities. Macy also charts the case brought against the manufacturers of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma, by US attorneys and grassroots advocacy groups.

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Kristi Fernandez

Kristi is Jesse Bolstridge’s mother, and Macy interviews her extensively. After losing her son to an overdose, Kristi becomes “obsessed with the story of his swift descent into addiction.” She urges Macy to interview incarcerated drug trafficker Ronnie Jones, whom she believes provided the heroin that killed her son. She hopes the interview will yield insight into Jesse’s addiction and decline. Ultimately, however, Kristi receives few illuminating details from Macy’s interview with Jones. He doesn’t even remember her son’s name.

Jesse Bolstridge

Jesse is Kristi’s son, who dies of a heroin overdose at age nineteen. He lives in the manicured suburbs of Roanoke, Virginia, and attends good schools before spiraling from a “high school football hunk and burly construction worker to a heroin-overdose statistic.”

Dennis Painter

Dennis is Jesse Bolstridge’s best friend. A Shenandoah County native, Dennis regularly commutes to Baltimore to buy heroin. Authorities initially suspect Dennis of supplying the heroin that kills Jesse.

Ginger Mumpower

Ginger is Spencer Mumpower’s mother. She is a high-profile civic leader and jeweler in the Roanoke suburbs. Her son’s widely publicized incarceration brings public awareness to burgeoning heroin abuse in the area. Desperate community members with addicted friends and relatives often come to Ginger’s jewelry store, seeking not jewelry but advice.

Spencer Mumpower

Spencer is Ginger Mumpower’s son. He is sentenced to seven years in federal prison for his role in the death of Scott Roth, his former private school classmate in Hidden Valley, Virginia. A low-level “middleman” dealer and user, Spencer provides Scott with the heroin on which Scott overdoses. Spencer ultimately achieves sobriety by replacing his heroin and amphetamine habits with dedication to martial arts training.

Rikk Perez

Perez is a karate instructor and a father figure to Spencer Mumpower. During Spencer’s incarceration, Perez is jailed “for taking indecent liberties with a teenage female student.” Spencer maintains his sobriety, however, despite the upsetting loss of his mentor.

Scott Roth

Scott is Spencer Mumpower’s “drug buddy.” The two were acquaintances in high school, although they were never particularly close. As a young adult, Scott goes to Spencer’s apartment, where Spencer “play[s] go-between,” handing Scott the heroin that causes his death.

Robin Roth

Robin is Scott Roth’s mother. Scott was her only child. After his death, she becomes obsessed with...

(The entire section contains 3047 words.)

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