Opinion: How Hulu’s “Dopesick” Painted A Picture Of The Opioid Crisis

Mitchell Kay

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The opioid crisis has plagued the United States and beyond since the late 1990s and early 2000s. The origin of the crisis has been a topic of controversy for many years, but people are becoming aware of what really happened.

Hulu’s new mini-series, “Dopesick” highlights the origin of the opioid crisis and the spread of oxycontin and tells a story from all angles of the horrifying reality of the pharmaceutical industry. From creating characters based on the reality of living in rural Appalachia to highlighting the everlasting lawsuit against the company that created Oxycontin.

Ground zero

The company named Purdue Pharma created the drug oxycontin to help patients resolve mild to severe pain for a variety of issues. Utilizing opiates as a painkiller for mild pain was unheard of at the time and the company knew doctors and healthcare facilities were going to be hesitant to prescribe the drug.

Because of this, Purdue created a label that misled healthcare providers and patients alike, claiming that less than 1% of people become addicted to the drug. Purdue Pharma and the Sackler Family used distorted graphs at national seminars and strict training for its reps to try and prove to the public that this drug did create the euphoric and withdrawal cycle that other opiates did.

The show opens with the new development of the drug and where they wanted to introduce it. Since mining and blue-collar jobs are physically grueling, the company decided to target regions where the majority of the population works in those types of jobs.

The nature of these jobs means the population is more likely to experience pain and want to be able to keep on working to provide for themselves and their family, therefore communities in the Appalachian Mountains became ground zero, which quickly spread to all parts of the country.


The show highlights many different perspectives, some of which cross paths. This includes a doctor in the mountains who prescribes oxycontin because of deceiving information, a miner who gets addicted to the drug, a pharmaceutical rep who battles between chasing money and having morals, two lawyers who are on a mission to sue the company, and a DEA agent who is determined to hold everyone involved accountable.

All of these perspectives highlighted the different areas in which oxycontin destroyed communities and people’s lives. Oftentimes emotional, many of the episodes show how victims were directly affected by everyone involved in the company. The evilness of the Sackler family, who owned and ran Purdue Pharma is evident in the push for more levels of the drug and the marketing tactics used so that people would buy more pills.

The show did a phenomenal job showcasing different perspectives of the opioid crisis and creating real-life events in the television show that happen around the country and even across the world.

The damage

Hundreds of thousands of people have died from addiction and overdoses since 1999 and that number only rises every day. Purdue Pharma and everyone involved trained their reps to be aggressive and push doctors to prescribe more and more pulls to their patients to fuel profits for the Sackler family and themselves. They created an illusion that pain was the fifth vital sign, and made doctors treat pain in a different way.

Commercials of “real life” patients became the center of their promotional activities. Purdue Pharma used misleading and dodgy scripts for their testimonials in order to bypass the legal system.

Luckily, many lawyers and politicians have created awareness about what the company did to our country and the Sackler family has finally started paying the price for the evilness of what they created. As of this year, the company has started to dissolve and become bankrupt.


After watching the show and doing research of my own, it was safe to say that chills ran through my entire body. The reality of what the Sackler family did is horrific and makes me sick to my stomach. Between their marketing tactics, distorted medical studies, and continuous development of new levels of the drug, the company created an irreversible threat to the population.

I urge everyone to watch this program if they can. Even though some of the characters may be fictional, the story is a reflection of reality and was extremely informative while also inspiring to be more aware of just how wishy-washy some companies can be.

To read more about the opioid crisis and the Sackler family, check out this article


To watch the series "Dopesick" on Hulu for more background, use this link


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