By BrightView
Published: October 26, 2023
Updated: October 31, 2023

The opioid crisis has been sweeping the nation over the past several decades with fatal outcomes. The introduction of the prescription drug OxyContin in the late 1990s was just the beginning of what would turn into a national epidemic of opioid addiction. Later, this would snowball into synthetic opioid use, mainly heroin and fentanyl.

When someone becomes addicted to these opioids, the addiction often leads to intravenous drug use. With drug overdose deaths starting to decrease slightly, many wonder how it got this bad. These series and documentaries will help you understand how we got here.



Highly acclaimed by critics, Dopesick is a series on Hulu that tells the story of the development and distribution of Oxycontin across the Appalachian region of the United States. It shows how Purdue Pharma deceived sales representatives, doctors, and patients into believing that Oxycontin is not addictive, leading to thousands of people becoming addicted to the powerful opioid. Although many of the characters are fictional, they are based on the real life stories that many experienced with opioid addiction. It demonstrates how good doctors turned into bad doctors unknowingly, and how young adults were convinced to become Purdue Pharma’s sales team, and how hard-working-people’s lives were ruined by Oxycontin addiction. This series covers extensive ground in telling the stories of the different roles of people who fought tirelessly to end the excessive distribution and sale of Oxycontin.


Pain Killer

Often compared to Dopesick, this Netflix series also tells the story of how Purdue Pharm grew out of control with the selling and distribution of Oxycontin. It follows multiple characters with different storylines including a blue-collar working man who becomes addicted to Oxycontin after a back injury, money-hungry sales representatives, both good and bad doctors, investigators, and of course the Sackler’s. Although the characters, apart from the Sackler’s, are fictionalized, they were shaped around real people’s stories. Pain Killer is far more sensationalized and dramatic in its storytelling than Dopesick, but it still does a great job at summarizing the rise of the opioid crisis and the corruption of Purdue Pharma.


The Crime of the Century

This HBO 2-part documentary details the history of opioid use and distribution across the United States and around the world. Filmmaker Alex Gibney believes that the creation and distribution of these medications is actually a crime committed by pharmaceutical companies, sales representatives, physicians, and those who gave out the drugs. Deception, lies, flashy marketing tactics, and illegal actions by Purdue Pharma are highly to blame for the beginning of the opioid crisis in the United States. Watching this documentary will help viewers better understand the history of this epidemic as told by the Sackler’s themselves, recovered media tapes, pharmaceutical sales reps, EMTs, doctors, and more.


Recovery Boys

This Netflix documentary tells the stories of four young men, Jeff, Rush, Adam, and Ryan, struggling to recover from opioid use disorder. It follows them through their time, nearly two years, at a recovery center in Aurora, West Virginia, called Jacob’s Ladder. Unlike other films about the opioid crisis, this one does not dramatize or focus on the tragedies related to the epidemic; instead, it shows viewers that these men are normal people, despite their addictions. It takes you through their normal everyday debacles and anxieties that makes viewers understand that people with addiction are just like everyone else.


Begin recovery at BrightView

Educating ourselves on the opioid crisis helps us to better understand people struggling with addiction and helps to end the stigma. These series and documentaries are excellent choices for people looking to learn more about this epidemic. They humanize the people who have been deeply affected by opioid addiction including the corruption by large corporations, while also explaining the history of this crisis.

BrightView is here to help anyone struggling with opioid addiction. We offer Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), individual counseling, group therapy, case management, and peer support to give our patients comprehensive care. If you or a loved one is looking to start treatment for opioid use disorder, please call us at 833-510-4357, or schedule an appointment with us online. We are here to help when you feel ready.


Photo provided by Mollie Sivaram on Unsplash.