Painkiller, on Netflix

Jean Oshima
4 min readAug 23, 2023

I’ve just finished my morning meditation. I’ll meditate again after I complete this 5 Heart Rating. I’ll need it. It’s bound to be the hardest one I’ve ever done.

Everyone should watch “Painkiller” on Netflix. EVERY single human being. But especially every American parent and child old enough to grasp the impact of this very difficult-to-watch subject.

Separate from the real-world story depicted in Painkiller, any one of the lead performances by West Duchovny, (maybe especially) Taylor Kitsch and Uzo Aduba, and Matthew Broderick deserve awards. They made it seem like I was watching a documentary with the real-life characters.

I forced myself to watch the whole series and binged it in a couple of days because I want to know everything I can about addiction. The subject is prevalent in my life and occupies a big chunk of the broken part of my heart. Family members, friends, friends and teammates of my children, and children I coached in tennis have all fallen prey to addiction. I use the word “prey” here with deliberately because addiction literally eats you up by first taking a nibble and later chews at you over and over. And if help is not gotten, chomps down on whatever is left of you, physically, mentally, and spiritually.

My first exposure to addiction was at a very young age with a family member that drank from morning to night. I remember him driving off a snow embankment when he drove me home after babysitting his kids. I didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t want him to look bad. I was only 10. Later, other family members were consumed by drug, alcohol, and food addiction. I tried hard to have a relationship with some of them but eventually decided it was not possible. For either of us.

Later, my son’s good friend, come to find out, was an addict. Addicted to the painkiller, Oxycontin, the subject of this brutal series, developed, produced, and distributed by the pharmaceutical behemoth and Sackler family, Purdue Pharma. Never have I hated an entity so much. Especially now that I’ve seen “Painkiller”. Come to find out, when my son’s friend lived with us, (He’d lost both of his parents and had been raising himself.), he took every single prescription painkiller I had in the house. (I’d heard once that you should fill painkiller prescriptions even if you don’t intend to take them because you never know what kind of disaster or health crisis may come up in which you or someone you care about may need them. I never took painkillers for a surgery and neither did my kids for wisdom teeth removal, but decided this made sense. So I had a few bottles in the cabinet.) He also had drugs delivered to our home late one night. He lied about everything. I should mention this young man is a genius and this, combined with the typical addict’s ability to create stories like no other, prevented both my son and I from seeing what was right in front of our eyes.

I was crushed. Crushed to see the effect on this young man, the effect on my son and their once seemingly close relationship, and me, my spirit, and my dwindling capacity for trust. I won’t say what happened to him to protect his identity. Let me just say, it was the worst possible thing you can imagine.

Sure, we all have the ability to make choices, but after seeing this series, I am once again utterly disappointed in our culture, society, politicians and lawmakers, and our bankruptcy system. (I mention bankruptcy because I have long believed the system is flawed at best. Case in point — Purdue Pharma filed bankruptcy, thus allowing for the Sackler family to remain multi-billionaires to this day.)

If you don’t think you or someone very close to you could become an addict, think again. You are WRONG. And I find it interesting that, as predicted many years ago in an article I read, only now, is attention really being brought to the opioid epidemic because it finally hit “normal everyday” white, middle and upperclass families. The jock and captain of the football team, the valedictorian, the cheerleader, etc. This has been a problem for decades. We are just now beginning to wake up. This series is evidence of this awakening.

Pay close attention in the series when they talk about “Oxycoffin”. It wasn’t elaborated enough in the series but this, for me, is a big part of why I believe the Sacklers should be serving out their lives in prison. Also, the scene with the autopsies. That too. You’ll see what I mean.

We have millions of Americans in prison for waaaaaaayyyyyyyyyy lesser drug-related offenses that what Purdue Pharma committed. How can this possibly be???!!! We all know the answer is and always is, money. The power it wields and the lawyers it pays for.

At this point in this post, as I did watching the series, I’ve cried multiple times remembering the people I know and love (still), whose lives and the lives of their loved ones have been utterly destroyed by addiction.

Please watch Painkiller.

Originally published at JEAN OSHIMA.



Jean Oshima

See my blog, 5 Heart Rating at I am a Wellness & Wine and Special Events Producer