Tonight on HBO, Warning: This Drug May Kill You is a sobering documentary about America’s favorite high, opioids, covering personal stories told from several points of view.
The film by Perri Peltz examines many aspects of this drug explosion that is killing more Caucasian older Americans than ever before.
It is told from the real perspectives of four families who were devastated by opioid addiction, and presents an unflinching and harrowing examination of the deadly epidemic sweeping the USA.
Over 100 people a day are said to be dying from overdosing on opioids. This figure tops gun violence, car accidents and, according to producers, has “quadrupled since 1999”.
You know the names: Vicodin, Norco, Percocet, Dilaudid, Oxycontin and their generic counterparts. The cinema verite style of shooting Peltz makes this message all the more clear, as it puts a human face on the problem.
The pharmaceutical industry and the medical establishment are also called into question and shown to have a role in this rise in addiction rates.
We also meet a mother whose addiction took hold after a painful birth; a man saved from an overdose, later having another one in the same day; an injured woman who went from prescription from pills to heroin; and another woman whose sister overdosed.
One of the worst stories is of a woman whose teen sons found her in bed the next morning, dead from pills.
Another heartbreaking story is of teen Brendan, hooked on opioids, rehabbed, then on withdrawal drug Narcan, who was found by his parents collapsed in his bedroom, also dead.
Operations, injuries, chronic pain, and experimentation are the many reasons so many people wind up addicted.
The cost of pills and the difficulty getting them now has many turning to street drug heroin, cheaper and ironically easier to get than a script for many.
But with so much money at stake, will Big Pharma do the right thing? Opioids are a multi-billion-dollar industry.
Warning: This Drug May Kill You premieres tonight, Monday, May 1, at 10pm ET/PT on HBO.