The reality of life in a “Dopesick” country: “It is just a state of misery”
The data which was featured in the Washington Post showed that 76 billion pills were sent to such areas of the country. When you look at the worst-hit communities per capita, these are places where the pharmaceutical sales reps went in and told these lies. They were able to find doctors to work with. Who do people trust? They trust their doctors. The companies purposely lied to the doctors, who then prescribed the pills in those communities at the same time the jobs were going away.
It was a perfect storm of not only people getting addicted very quickly — because there has never been a drug, an opioid, this strong before — but also the users start diverting the drugs because they were in such oversupply. The pills were being sold on the black market as a way for desperate people to pay their bills. This was much the same way that their ancestors had done with moonshine.
In these rural communities hit by the opioid epidemic it is just a state of misery. I was visiting my little nephews in rural Ohio — which has the second[-highest] overdose death rate in the country — and we were getting chili dogs at this little hot dog stand in a former factory town. We were going to the park and the 11-year-old says, “No Aunt Beth, we don’t want to step on heroin needles.” And literally this is a town where nobody used to lock their doors. Rural America has changed so much.
There are so many moral hazards in this story of America’s opioid epidemic. First, people are addicted to pills by companies making money from their sickness. In turn there are few if any jobs in these communities so the people there are self-medicating. Then there is mass incarceration and for-profit prisons which make money from locking people up who do not have access to drug treatment. It is dystopian.
What is the intersection between emotional pain and physical pain for the people you interviewed and got to know for your reporting in “Dopesick”?
How do the executives and other senior personnel in these pharmaceutical companies which are selling opioids to these communities rationalize their behavior?
Is there any moment of stepping back where the corporations and their management say to themselves, “Maybe this isn’t the best thing for these communities?” Or is it always profits over people?
For complete article go to ‘It is always decisions – not conditions that make saint or swine.’ (Frankl)