Crime of the Century: HBO’s New Documentary on the Opioid Epidemic

As of 2019, nearly 500,000 people have died from an overdose involving prescription or illicit opioids. HBO explores this opioid epidemic in their latest documentary, The Crime of the Century.


The opioid crisis has taken a toll on communities all across the United States, from major urban cities to small-town America. Tragically, the number of people that are impacted by this epidemic continues to climb. This latest documentary follows in the footsteps of HBO’s long history chronicling drug abuse in the United States and was written and directed by award-winning filmmaker, Alex Gibney. 


This two-part documentary gives viewers a glimpse of the origins of the opioid crisis sweeping America. Gibney exposes the corruption and greed of the pharmaceutical companies, doctors, manufacturers, and political figures that have not only enabled the opioid epidemic but profited from it. 


Revealing the History of Opioid Abuse


The first part of the film follows a chronological timeline of how and when the crisis began. Gibney primarily focuses on a pharmaceutical company that, in the mid-90s and early 2000s, was the biggest manufacturer of OxyContin. According to the film, this company sent out dozens of field representatives who were tasked with convincing doctors to prescribe OxyContin at an accelerated rate, which they did quite successfully. This led to mass distribution of the medication which made Purdue Pharma wealthy but destroyed the lives of both patients and doctors all around the country. 


The Documentary Exposes Corruption


Part two of the film discusses the mass marketing of Fentanyl, which started in the mid-2000s. Although the opioid crisis claimed the lives of 40 people each day at the time, a pharmaceutical company bribed doctors to overprescribe the medication. Gibney interviewed former reps who disclosed that the company used fraudulent marketing strategies that ultimately led to a complex scheme to defraud insurance companies while lawmakers were paid to turn a blind eye. 


The Crime of the Century presents a grim, but informative, look at the evolution of an epidemic that continues to destroy families. The film underscored the fact that the crisis is the result of a larger scheme to make pharmaceutical companies, doctors, and government officials wealthy, despite the toll it has taken on the entire country. 


The opioid crisis continues to claim lives and destroy communities all across the country. A new HBO documentary explores the opioid crisis in America, which affects those in big cities to small towns. If you are suffering from a substance use disorder, know that sobriety is achievable and help is available. Valiant Living provides a variety of services for men who are struggling with addiction. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction or would like more information on our services, call to speak to a caring, trained staff member at (303) 952-5035.