“It all started with pain Killers”
If your child had a sports injury in the 90’s and was given a new “miracle” drug for pain called Oxycontin, developed in the 8o’s, it’s easy to see how he/she could have become “hooked” on it. A class 2 narcotic, it was pushed by Purdue Pharma as a “non-addictive opioid,” with a guarantee to doctors, hospitals that less than 1% would be addicted.
Boy, were they hoodwinked! Sold as a better alternative to Vicodin and Percocet by strong-armed sales and marketing by Purdue Pharma in the 90’s, medical professionals were told that you couldn’t get “high” on the new drug that had a 12 hr. time release delayed absorption. Doctors could individualize the doses and double them if breakthrough pain occurred.
Thus, the opioid epidemic began. Rural Maine, S.W. Virginia, and Kentucky were particularly affected. Last year, the opioid overdoses totaled over 90,000 lives.
Later, the so-called pain mills would be closed and the formerly-addicted-to-“oxys” would take to the streets to find heroin. But this opioid heroin is now cut with Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, five times stronger than morphine. It takes only 3 mg. of Fentanyl to kill.
You can see the whole epidemic unfold from the start if you watch “Dope Sick,” on Hulu. On Wednesday evenings, it is a limited drama series that stars Michael Keaton as an Appalachian Doctor, Kaitlyn Dever as an injured coal miner, and Michael Stulbarg as Richard Sackler, Purdue Pharma’s former president who confesses in the series: “If I can stay laser-focused, I can make this the biggest drug in the world.” (To date, the Sacklers have not been charged with criminal intent. They have “settled” and have declared bankruptcy that dissolved the giant company).
Adapted from the best-selling book Dopesick by Beth Macy, the theme of pain is played by the actors within their community, but the effect ricocheted all over the United States. There is historical material featuring depictions of real people at the drug company and in the government agencies regulating the pharmaceutical industry to further elaborate how the opioid epidemic flourished.
The 8-part series is more than Hollywood although its creator Danny Strong, proved his “chops” on “Empire” as did Director Barry Levinson on “Diner; it will grab you! I can’t wait to see the next installment on October 20th.
Wesley Cullen Davidson
Wesley Cullen Davidson is an award-winning freelance writer and journalist specializing in parenting. Currently, she is targeting her writing about recovery to parents whose children have substance abuse disorders.