The Non-Fictionalized Version of Netflix’s “Painkiller”, Told By Someone Who Lived Through It

There is no one story to the opioid epidemic, but this is mine.

Brian Brewington
5 min readAug 15


Photo by Jonathan Gonzalez on Unsplash

I remember being maybe 12, which would have made it the year 1999. The same year the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma started truly cashing in on their newly developed drug Oxycontin, and advertising it as “believed to be less addictive than other opioids like it”. Key words there, as mentioned in the Netflix limited series, areBelieved to be”.

Believed to be by who? That’s what the limited series asks and I have an absolute answer — by only those people who profited off of making themselves believe it. Meaning the Sackler family primarily, along with every drug rep for the company and the gullible, greedy doctors they made believe it.

Everyone I knew at age 12 who took oxycontin, was not prescribed them and was terribly addicted to them. The demand kept going up so, in turn, so did the street prices for them. At their peak, I recall them going for $1 per milligram — meaning a single Oxy 80, which was what most addicts were in search of, was selling for $80.

So now Purdue was not only turning people into addicts as a direct result of their actions and drug, but they were also indirectly turning otherwise good people into criminals who would rob and steal off their own kids or mother, never mind a stranger in the street, for a single pill. All just to not experience the terrible withdrawal symptoms they’d experience if they didn’t get their hands on a pill.

I watched some of my childhood neighborhood heroes, older kids from my area who I wanted to be like, turn into shells of themselves, before going one of three directions — getting clean, going to prison, or dying.

I believe had I been born a year or two earlier, I would’ve been right there with them on the Oxy 80 train. But the truth is when they were at their peak, I was still young enough to be afraid of them rather than intrigued by them. However, my Philadelphia neighborhood lost a lot of good people to OxyContin addiction.

Sure, OxyContin gets all the attention, because people know the name and story for the most part. It’s been demonized in everything…



Brian Brewington

Writing About the Human Condition, via My Thoughts, Observations, Experiences, and Opinions — Founder of Journal of Journeys and BRB INC ©