Addicted: America’s Opioid Crisis By Dr. Joseph Mercola
The featured 2019 BBC documentary, Addicted: America’s Opioid Crisis, explores the depth of the nation’s addiction to opioid painkillers and the role played by Purdue Pharma and other makers of the drug.
As noted in the film, opioids kill more people than any other drug on the market, and it’s the only type of drug that can condemn a person to a life of addiction after a single week of use.
According to the BBC, “1 in 8 American children live with a parent who suffers from a substance abuse disorder,” and “every 15 minutes, a baby in America is born suffering from opioid withdrawal.” Middle school-aged children interviewed also say they have easy access to drugs, should they want them.
Many now blame the drug companies that make these drugs and have falsely promoted them as safe and nonaddictive for patients of all kinds, including children.
That includes one of the former addicts followed in the film, who says he thinks the drug companies need to be held responsible for their role in creating this epidemic, and made to help pay for the solution.
Purdue Pharma Pleads Guilty and Folds
One of the most prominent drug companies involved in the creation of this opioid addiction crisis is Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin. At the end of October 2020, Purdue Pharma agreed to plead guilty to three federal criminal charges relating to its role in the opioid crisis, including violating a federal anti-kickback law, conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government and violating the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.1,2
To settle the charges, Purdue is supposed to pay $8.3 billion in fines, forfeiture of past profits and civil liability payments,3 but because it doesn’t have the cash, the company will instead be dissolved and its assets used to erect a “public benefit company” that both makes opioids and pays for addiction treatment.
Legal Painkillers Now the Gateway Drug to Heroin
While marijuana was long known as the gateway drug to other illicit drug use, that distinction now belongs to prescription opioids. According to data4 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, prescription opioid use is a significant risk factor for subsequent heroin use.
The incidence of heroin use is 19 times higher among those who have used opioids nonmedically than among those who have no history of opioid use, and 86% of young, urban injection drug users report using opioid pain relievers nonmedically before starting heroin. Overall, nearly 80% of heroin users now report using prescription opioids prior to heroin.