John Oliver explains America's massive 'new drug crisis' and what caused it

John Oliver Opioids YouTube HBOYouTube/HBO‘Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.’

On Sunday’s episode of “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” the host focused his main story on a major problem affecting the US: opioids. 

From painkillers to heroin, these drugs hit the country hard and fast. 

“As of 2015, an estimated 2.6 million Americans were addicted to them, and they’re now involved in almost 30,000 overdose deaths a year in the US,” Oliver said in the segment.

Oliver points out that the gateway drugs are often Oxycontin, Vicodin, and Percocet, which doctors have been handing out like candy for years. Patients get so hooked on them that in some cases they will do anything to get them when they have “healed.”

In the segment, Oliver shows one clip in which a group of men talk about the lengths they have gone to get these drugs, including purposely breaking their hands or having their friends break their arms with bats.

Oliver throws the blame on drug companies like Purdue, which released Oxycontin in 1996 and exploded on the market as the company encouraged doctors to give the drug to their patients whose pain wasn’t just post-surgery or end-of-life-related, but also ones who suffered arthritis and back aches. The company also assured the public that there’s only a small chance of getting addicted.

Watch the complete segment below:


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