Stephen King opens up about OxyContin addiction while praising Netflix's Painkiller

Ayaan Paul
Ayaan PaulSep 11, 2023 | 15:37

Stephen King opens up about OxyContin addiction while praising Netflix's Painkiller

The renowned master of the macabre took to Twitter to share his thoughts on Netflix's six-episode miniseries, Painkiller, which pulls back the curtain on Purdue Pharma, the notorious manufacturer of OxyContin, and its role in jumpstarting the opioid crisis. The kicker? King found himself entangled in OxyContin's treacherous web following a catastrophic 1999 car accident.

In his tweet, King praised Painkiller, despite its mixed reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, with a 49 percent critical approval rating and a 62 percent audience score. He alluded to his 1999 accident, which almost took his life, and expressed his deep connection to the series, stating, "I loved it" and emphasizing that he could relate to everything in it.


Stephen King's tweet opens a window into the intersection of fiction and reality, where the horror maestro found his parallels between his livid encounters  and the chilling true story of Painkiller. While King did not provide an exhaustive account of his experience with OxyContin, his brief comment resonates profoundly with the broader narrative portrayed in the series.

The miniseries, despite its divisive reviews, serves as a potent exposé of the opioid crisis, focusing on Purdue Pharma's role as a central figure in this tragedy.

  • Purdue Pharma marketed OxyContin as a revolutionary, safe painkiller with minimal consequences, but beneath this façade lay a highly addictive drug that would go on to devastate countless lives.

King's own story is just one of the countless tragic tales of individuals who sought relief from pain but became ensnared in the grip of this perilous substance.

King's tweet hints at the emotional connection he felt due to his own experiences.

  • In 1999, while taking a walk in Maine, King was struck by a minivan, an accident that nearly claimed his life. The injuries he sustained were extensive, including a broken leg and hip, a collapsed lung, and major injuries to his scalp.
  • In fact, his leg was in such dire condition that doctors contemplated amputation before deciding to allow it time to heal. In the arduous process of recovery, King found himself relying on OxyContin, a decision that was influenced by medical recommendations.

While King alludes to using "a lot" of OxyContin in the late 1990s following the car accident, it's crucial to note that this period was not the first time he faced substance-related challenges. In 1987, King's wife, Tabitha, staged an intervention due to his use of multiple substances, including cocaine, Xanax, Valium, NyQuil, beer, tobacco, and cannabis, marking the beginning of his journey to sobriety.

It's important to contextualize King's experiences within the broader narrative of OxyContin's history.

  • At the time of King's accident, Purdue Pharma was actively marketing OxyContin as a relatively safe painkiller with minimal risk of addiction.
  • This deceptive marketing contributed to the widespread use of the drug, which subsequently led to the opioid epidemic.
  • King's story is emblematic of the countless individuals who innocently sought relief from pain, only to find themselves ensnared by a substance they had believed to be safe.

Moreover, King has previously spoken out about the role of individuals like Rudy Giuliani in the rise of OxyContin and the opioid epidemic. King threw shade at Giuliani, pinning some blame on him for the OxyContin catastrophe.

Giuliani's involvement with Purdue Pharma during a federal investigation added another layer of complexity to the crisis.

  • Though he couldn't prevent a criminal conviction, Giuliani managed to secure an agreement that curbed future prosecution of the pharmaceutical company.
  • This development, coupled with his consulting firm's representation of Purdue Pharma, played a part in perpetuating the opioid crisis, which has claimed over 190,000 lives through overdoses of OxyContin and similar painkillers since 1999.

Painkiller, a dark sibling to Hulu's Emmy-winning, Dopesick, tells a tale dripping with emotion, exposing the puppeteers behind the opioid crisis. While the show spins a web of fiction around the Sackler family, the puppeteers behind Purdue Pharma, King's endorsement holds immense weight due to its rootedness in the real experiences he had with this deadly drug.

Although fictionalized to a certain extent, the series serves as a poignant reminder of the desperation that pervaded both the perpetrators and the victims of the opioid crisis. It paints a vivid picture of how the rapid rise of OxyContin turned into an epidemic affecting individuals from all walks of life.

And Stephen King, the man who knows a thing or two about tales of terror, gave his seal of approval to this real-life nightmare on Netflix.

Last updated: September 11, 2023 | 15:38
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