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The True Story Behind the Show Dopesick

Alexa Iocco Drug Detox , Drug Rehab April 1, 2022

The True Story Behind the Show Dopesick Resurgence Behavioral Health

The Story Behind Dopesick

The show Dopesick, shown on the Hulu Network, is based on the non-fiction book, Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted Americans by Beth Macy. Macy is a journalist who has written extensively about the opioid epidemic and its impact on the Appalachian region. But is the show Dopesick true? Does it provide a factual overview of the impact of Oxycontin on Appalachian communities? 

According to sources like National Public Radio (NPR), the show is “mostly true.” The show’s producers fictionalized some of the characters to reflect the stories of several actual people who did. Moreover, Macy’s book is based on factual accounts. News out of that area; news from many parts of the country, does support the immense impact that the drug Oxycontin has had on the skyrocketing increase of prescription drug abuse

The opioid crisis has ravished communities all across the United States–urban, suburban, and rural communities. Dopesick offers an in-depth glimpse into the effects of prescription Oxycontin on poor rural communities and also depicts how Purdue Pharma persuaded doctors to prescribe the drug. Overprescribing opioids like Oxycontin has led to a serious prescription drug problem in the U.S. And the problem hasn’t stopped. Even though the medical community has curbed doctors from prescribing opioids so readily to treat pain, it hasn’t been able to prevent those addicted to drugs like Oxycontin from turning to heroin because doctors would no longer prescribe the prescription medication. 

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The fallout from big pharma’s push to dispense prescription opioids continues to be felt today. Whether it’s a celebrity death or a local death, headlines continue to report overdose deaths that involve opioids. Unfortunately, those addicted to Oxycontin or other opioid drugs now have a serious condition to contend with. Managing addiction isn’t easy, but Resurgence Behavioral Health can help. We feature drug addiction treatments designed to help people struggling with addictions to prescription drugs or illicit drugs. 

If you’ve watched the show Dopesick or read the book, you know how serious the opioid crisis is. With our help, you can end your dependence on drugs and rebuild your life. There are happy endings to addiction stories. Be sure that yours is one of them.

Purdue Pharma and the Development of Oxycontin

The American Journal of Public Health reported that Purdue “aggressively” promoted opioids to treat non-cancer-related pain. This promotion resulted in a tenfold increase in prescriptions of Oxycontin. In 1997, doctors wrote 670,000 prescriptions for Oxycontin. By 2002, that number rose to 6.2 million. Purdue launched programs designed to provide patients with a free 7-30 day supply of Oxycontin as a “patient starter program.” 

The show Dopesick depicts the Purdue company and the family that owns it as uncaring and responsible for playing a substantial role in the development of the opioid crisis. Eventual lawsuits accused the company of downplaying the risk of addiction and promoting the drug, a Schedule II drug, recklessly. Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of Oxycontin has recently agreed to a settlement where the company will file bankruptcy and also pay more than $12 billion. The Sackler family, which owns the company, will pay more than $4 billion. 

Purdue Pharma isn’t the only manufacturer that’s been involved in lawsuits associated with the opioid crisis. Companies like Johnson & Johnson, Walgreens, CVS, and Cardinal Health have faced lawsuits for marketing drug products in a misleading manner. Lawsuits allege that the companies downplayed risks but exaggerated benefits. 

Although the medical community has been mostly in agreement about the use of opioids in the treatment of cancer-related pain, they have not been in agreement about relying on these drugs to treat other conditions that involve chronic pain. The risk of abuse and addiction associated with opioids is not a new concept, but many primary care doctors who prescribed Oxycontin for all sorts of pain-related conditions did not understand the level of risk associated with this drug, billed as a slow-release opioid medication. 

The Rise of the Opioid Epidemic

During the 1990s, companies like Purdue Pharma assured the medical community that its opioid pain relievers would not cause addiction. They downplayed the risk and focused on the benefits of the drugs. As a result, doctors began prescribing drugs like Oxycontin more frequently. The overprescribing of opioid drugs caused part one of the opioid epidemic–the prescription drug opioid crisis. In order to combat the crisis, the medical community and legislators worked to clamp down on the prescribing of these pain medications.

But that didn’t solve the addiction problem that the prescriptions had caused. On the contrary, it sent people to the street to obtain an easier-to-get opioid–a cheaper one: heroin. When those addicted to Oxycontin or other opioid painkillers could no longer get their prescription for the medications, they turned to the most readily available drug they could find. As the prescription drug epidemic subsided, the heroin epidemic went into the swing. 

Opioids are highly addictive–even in prescription form as evidenced by the rise in prescription drug abuse and addiction rates. While the show Dopesick only showed a small slice of America, the truth is that the opioid epidemic has hit cities and suburbs, too, all across the country. Many communities, especially poor communities, have been especially hard hit by the opioid epidemic. High addiction rates, high incarceration rates, and high overdose rates of death give one a startling impression of just what opioids have done to the community after community. 

Addiction and Overdose Rates in the United States

From 1999 to 2018, more than 480,000 people lost their lives to overdoses involving opioids. As headlines attest, overdose affects the rich and poor. It affects people in white-collar jobs, blue-collar jobs, and those with no jobs. Anyone can become addicted. Every year, roughly 50,000 people use heroin for the first time. Moreover, about 10 million people have misused an opioid drug in the past year–a prescription opioid drug. The opioid epidemic still claims lives. 

Unfortunately, of the nearly 20 million Americans battling a substance use disorder today, only 11% are seeking treatment. Many of these people aren’t aware that they’re suffering from a health condition that is chronic and, typically, progressive. Abuse of opioids will cause their mental and physical health to deteriorate. Moreover, there is always a risk of overdose, especially when people take opioids along with other drugs or alcohol. 

Removing the Stigma around Addiction and Addiction Treatment

Many big pharma companies pushed opioid drugs with misleading marketing schemes. Doctors over-prescribed these drugs to people suffering from chronic pain for years. Yet, it’s the people who now have addictions to opioids that are stuck with the stigma of their condition. Yet, addiction is a health condition. Those addicted to opioids are dependent on them physically, psychologically, and behaviorally. 

Too often, people addicted to opioids suffer from this condition alone, trying to hide it from their families, friends, and employers because of the stigma. Addiction treatment centers like Resurgence Behavioral Health are committed to working to remove this stigma. It’s important for everyone to be aware that addiction is a health condition that requires management like other health conditions. So long as the stigma remains, people will be hesitant to come forward and admit they have this issue. Instead, they will continue to hide it, attempting to control something that they need help to control. 

At Resurgence Behavioral Health, we provide a wide range of addiction treatments, but during our individual and group therapy sessions, we also educate our clients and, often, their families about what addiction really is–how it occurs and how it affects the brain and body. Knowing the biology that is associated with addiction can be eye-opening. Once clients can understand what has triggered them to abuse drugs, they can find strategies for managing those triggers, even if one of the triggers was the chronic pain that first led them to seek help from their doctor. 

Many of the individuals living with an opioid addiction today were once simply people who were living with pain. They may have endured an injury or an illness that left them in pain. They were given opioid pain pills by their doctor. They didn’t set out to abuse drugs or become addicted. Knowing this may help to remove the stigma from those suffering from addiction. 

If you’re battling an addiction to opioids or any other drug, you can visit Resurgence Behavioral Health to find out about our treatment programs. Without treatment, you’re unlikely to stop abusing drugs. That means that your health and wellbeing will remain at risk. At Resurgence, we offer a holistic approach to recovery and wellness. We treat people’s addictions but we also help clients to rebuild their lives. We feature a supportive environment where clients can shed the stigma and get the personalized help they need to achieve lasting recovery. 

Come into Resurgence to have your condition evaluated. Then, our addiction specialists can recommend the ideal treatment plan for your needs. Contact us with questions. 

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