Oxy abuse hits the big screen in film’s true-life portrayal

You may remember Watchdog contributor Jaime Messina, who blew the whistle on OxyContin way back in 2003 as a student at Northeastern University – a full four years before Purdue shelled out $634.5 million for lying about the painkiller’s addictive qualities. Here, she weighs in on “OxyMorons,” a new film about Oxy’s devastating effects in the Boston area.

Last Tuesday I had the opportunity to view the film “OxyMorons,” a low-budget indie film that portrays the life of an OxyContin dealer in the small community of Charlestown, Mass. The film – which is written by, starring and about Johnny Hickey – takes place in the early 2000s, when the Oxy addiction epidemic in Massachusetts was first starting to rear its head. Hickey, who has since cleaned up his life, was able to write an excellent screenplay based on his experiences. As someone who has been aware of and has personally seen the devastation OxyContin can cause, I was excited to hear that such a film was produced, and I highly anticipated its limited release at a theater in Revere, Mass., just north of the town in which it takes place.

“OxyMorons” portrays how OxyContin barged onto the scene in Charlestown and instantly began ruining the lives of many around Hickey, including himself. One thing I particularly appreciated about the film was that it didn’t sugarcoat the story of Oxy’s devastating effects on the lives of all who came into contact with it. In fact, the film was quite graphic and violent at times. While to some that may be uncomfortable, I felt it did a great job of exemplifying the destruction and havoc this drug wreaked upon the community around Hickey.

The film, which stars many unknown actors and Charlestown natives, highlights the disintegration of Hickey’s life, including his debilitating addiction, the loss of many of his loved ones, and the near loss of his own life. I know those personally affected by this drug will appreciate this film, but I left the theater feeling even more hopeful that its message would bring to light the dangers of this drug to a society that is still so unaware of this widespread phenomenon.

Although the initial film release lasted for just one week in February in Revere, Hickey is working hard to bring the film to other theaters across the country. I hope he is successful in this endeavor, as I firmly believe that greater awareness about this drug is necessary. As Hickey states at the beginning of the film, “I’ve changed many of the names in my story, not to protect the innocent … no one in this story is innocent.” The truth rings clear here: we all have a responsibility to prevent this kind of drug epidemic from ruining communities across the nation.

To encourage theater operator National Amusements to show “OxyMorons” in your town, email Steve.

To view the “OxyMorons” trailer, click here.

Click here to read Jaime’s original December 2003 paper on OxyContin abuse.

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