I know I have friends from South Boston who read this blog. How many friends have we lost to opioids?
Today the news came out that Purdue Pharma-- AKA the Sackler family-- pled guilty to criminal charges in relation to their illegal practices regarding OxyContin. While the penalties might equal over $8 Billion this is of little consolation to the more than 700,000 people who have died from overdose since 1999.
My first poem to ever be published by a major journal was titled "Counting." Included in Hanging Loose in 2000, the poem detailed time in South Boston--a place I considered home--and watching friends deal with and die from the disease of addiction.
How does today's judgment make me feel? Too little too late. This is an overdose of injustice under the heading of overdose art.
An 8 Billion Dollar Fine
What's the federal minimum sentence for trafficking if death results? 20 years in prison.
That's the minimum.
8 Billion dollars means the Sackler family will have billions upon billions of dollars remaining.
At the present time, the WHO estimates that less than 10% of people who require treatment are receiving it.
As someone who has written and made art about OxyContin, gun violence, brutality, and civil inequalities it is heartbreaking to again feel the pain of injustice. My heart goes out to everyone who has lost someone as a direct result of the Sackler family's criminal behavior.
Other Epidemics and Overdose Art
The truth is there are many deaths not counted. Homicides, suicides, diseases unattributed to the opioids themselves. There are people who die from faulty heart valves after infections from the needle; there are countless others who got hooked on OC's and never got the help they needed.
Overdose art and protest art for the inequalities of criminal sentencing are all I have now. There are great artists out there and legislators who are trying to level the field.
For today, the Sacklers win with a slap on the wrist from a permissive administration. Staf safe out there everyone.
Click here to read my poem 28 Different Spoons Play the OxyContin Blues about one of my many experiences with losing a loved one to opioid addiction.
You can see more poetry here.