harry-nelson forbesbooks authorMeet Harry Nelson:

  • Founder of Nelson Hardiman, a healthcare and life sciences law firm
  • Board chair for the Behavioral Health Association of Providers (BHAP)
  • Spearheaded the Fighting for Opioid Relief through Collaborative Effort project (FORCE)

America’s opioid crisis cuts across socioeconomics, age, race, ethnicity, and geography. Victims could be patients taking medication after a surgery or for pain after treatment. Maybe they were given these highly addictive medications from a loved one to ease a migraine. It can even be as simple as someone feeling alone and isolated and self-medicating away the anxiety.

From 1999 to 2017, there have been seven hundred thousand drug overdose deaths, two-thirds of which are opioid-related according to the Centers for Disease Control. In 2019, the toll will have most likely exceeded over a million overdose deaths.

When the government began cracking down on over-prescribing physicians, the demand increased due to the drugs becoming much scarcer, leading to illegal drugs like “black tar” heroin and fentanyl smuggled in from overseas or across the southern border.

The opioid crisis has only recently become a well-known and widespread problem to most, yet this dire situation has been brewing since the mid-twenty-first century. Some may remember Marilyn Monroe overdosing in 1962, John Belushi in 1982, and many other celebrities since then such as Heath Ledger, Chris Farley, and Michael Jackson.

harry nelson united states of opioidsWith over twenty-five years of experience as a healthcare lawyer, Harry Nelson has seen it all. He’s witnessed the history and rise of opioids, pain medicine, and addiction treatment as lawsuits continue to pile up against drug manufacturers with no end in sight. He has watched families tear themselves apart because of overdoses, doctors who fell prey to the drugs themselves, and pharmacies and providers who were clueless about their responsibilities when handling opioids. Harry Nelson wrote The United States of Opioids: A Prescription for Liberating a Nation in Pain to put into context just how dangerous the opioid crisis is and what others can do to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.

Harry explains both how the opioid crisis evolved as a slow-motion, mass casualty event and why it continues to break through every worst-case analysis, becoming the leading killer of people under fifty. He offers a comprehensive perspective of the unaddressed points of health system failure, including a firsthand account of the impossible position facing doctors and the social conditions and deficits of the US health system that provided fertile soil for the crisis to grow out of control. Harry Nelson didn’t set out to write out the definitive opioid crisis history, but rather to try to do something about a problem he fears is only going to get much worse in the coming years. He wrote The United States of Opioids to help others understand that overcoming the opioid crisis calls upon the nation to unite together to keep people healthy, and the resulting synergy may be the catalyst that liberates this nation in pain.



1. Healthcare lawyer for many doctors who prescribed for high profile clients, such as Michael Jackson and Anna Nicole Smith
2. Recognized by Best Lawyers, Southern California Super Lawyers, and received a Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent rating annually since 2010
3. Co-author of From ObamaCare to TrumpCare with Rob Fuller
4. Spends his time away from work teaching on leadership and instilling in his children a love for Detroit sports teams

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