Who’s to blame for America’s addiction to prescription drugs? Although “Prescription Thugs” sets out to tell how everyone from professional athletes to housewives can develop addictions, the real focus of the Chris Bell-directed documentary is on blame and how drugs affected his life and those of the people he loves.
Bell’s narrative comes across as elementary -- like he’s talking to viewers about a problem about which they are unaware. Though there are references to addiction, being a part of the human condition, the main goal of the film is to place fault on “Big Pharma” and help “stamp out quackery.”
Bell has a recurring metaphor throughout the film: He likens Big Pharma to street suppliers and doctors to drug dealers. Patients are the “Prescription Thugs”; corporations are in it just for the money.
Making the epidemic worse, some doctors are unaware just how addictive opiates can be. An entire generation of doctors was told people couldn’t become addicted to opiates, CDC Director Tom Frieden says in the film.
What doesn’t help Bell’s case is his revelation at the end he lied to his crew by saying at the start of the documentary he had been addicted to pain pills but recovered. During filming, however, he relapsed and went into rehab, putting the movie on hold until he completed therapy.
The film includes him first revealing his addiction to his family, something that was supposed to bring a “personal” touch to the film, but the entire documentary seems to be more about Bell and his family than how prescription drugs affect us as a nation.
“America, the land of the free and the home of the addicted,” Bell says. If you want to see a documentary about the director’s life and how drugs affected him personally, then go see this film. If you're looking for something about what society can do to combat a problem that has turned into an epidemic, look the other way.
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