Netflix’s latest drama, “Painkiller,” delves into the disturbing narrative of how Richard Sackler exploited a fractured healthcare system to establish a vast pharmaceutical empire.
The series vividly portrays the creation of OxyContin, a small white pill with potency levels up to twice that of morphine.
Opioid Epidemic Gains Attention Through the Series
The release of the series has sparked widespread discussions surrounding opioids, particularly OxyContin.
The show brings to the forefront the deeply concerning issues linked to these prescription painkillers.
Celebrities and Opioid-Related Deaths
Recent years have witnessed the tragic deaths of celebrities like Tom Petty, Mac Miller, and Juice WRLD, with opioids identified as contributing factors.
The deaths of such prominent figures have highlighted the severity of the opioid crisis.
Opioids’ Troubling Impact in America
Opioids, powerful painkillers known for inducing euphoria, have posed significant challenges in the United States.
The year 2018 witnessed a staggering 70,000 deaths attributed to these drugs.
The Evolution of Opioids and Their Forms
Originally derived from poppies, the opioid industry has evolved into a multi-billion-pound business.
Chemically synthesized versions of these drugs have emerged, further contributing to the industry’s growth.
Understanding Opioids and Their Types
Opioids encompass a group of potent painkillers used to manage various types of pain, including post-surgery, acute, and cancer-related pain.
Examples of opioids include oxycodone (OxyContin), fentanyl, morphine, methadone, codeine, and diamorphine (heroin).
The Origin of Opioid Name and Receptors
The term “opioid” originates from “opium,” as the initial versions of these drugs were derived from opium poppies.
Scientists discovered that these drugs interact with specific brain receptors, known as opioid receptors.
Even newer synthesized versions like fentanyl, not derived from poppies, share this name due to their impact on the same brain receptors.
Opioids’ Medical Uses and Risks
Opioids find application in treating various types of pain.
They can be prescribed for short-term pain after surgery or trauma, as well as for cancer-related pain.
However, opioids’ potential for addiction and misuse poses risks, especially in cases of chronic pain.
Legality of Opioids
Certain opioids are legal in the UK, requiring prescriptions from doctors.
Over-the-counter medicines containing small amounts of codeine in combination with other pain relievers are available.
However, drugs like heroin and methadone are classified as Class A restricted substances, subjecting possession to severe penalties.
The Hazards and Side Effects of Opioids
Opioids, notorious for their addictive nature, can lead to significant disruptions in a person’s life.
Alongside pain relief, they can result in side effects such as constipation, nausea, excessive sleepiness, and impaired concentration.
Most alarmingly, opioids can negatively affect the respiratory system, potentially leading to fatal outcomes.
The Opioid Crisis in the UK and USA
In the 1990s, opioids were heavily prescribed for chronic pain, which ultimately proved ineffective.
This practice contributed to widespread addiction problems, prompting a public health emergency declaration by President Donald Trump in 2017.
The US has witnessed a staggering number of deaths attributed to prescription opioid issues, while the UK has also grappled with rising opioid overdose cases.
Rise of Synthetic Drugs
Synthetic opioids like fentanyl have seen a significant increase in cases of poisonings.
These simulated opioids have witnessed a 550 percent rise in poisonings over a decade, underscoring the urgency of addressing the synthetic opioid crisis.
The portrayal of the opioid crisis in Netflix’s “Painkiller” underscores the critical need for awareness and action to mitigate the devastating impact of these drugs on individuals and society.