On the newest installment of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver found a subject worthy of the utmost seriousness. The caustic funnyman rips into America’s pervasive addiction to prescription painkillers with obligatory touches of dark humor.
Oliver digs into some statistics — 30,000 opioid-related deaths per year in the U.S. The host then ties the staggering problem of 2.6 million opioid-addicted Americans directly to the 250 million painkiller prescriptions that have been signed by doctors.
And as many addicts reveal in this segment, they’ll do anything, even have teeth unnecessarily pulled, to gain access to a prescription. Things grow more complicated when these pills either become too expensive, or the doctor says nope, and folks turn to the cheaper (and extremely available) option, heroin.
As Oliver points out, doctors experienced a massive mindset shift from the “opiophobia” of yesteryear. Much of this is due to Big Pharma, “who started amplifying the message that opioids should not just be used for acute pain” such as surgery recovery or cancer treatment, but nowadays, even a simple backache qualifies. Oliver’s final conclusion? “Alternative pain treatments should be at least as easy to find as Waffle Houses, which, like heroin, are both hazardous to your health and dangerously addictive.”
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