Peter Sarsgaard: A fellow actor offered me OxyContin, but I wanted no part of it

The Lost Daughter red carpet, 78th Venice International Film Festival, Italy - 04 Sep 2021

This week, Hulu’s miniseries Dopesick begins. Dopesick is the true story of the OxyContin crisis in America, where Big Pharma – specifically Purdue and the Sackler family – sold Oxycontin as a non-addictive painkiller to huge swaths of rural and urban America. They single-handedly created one of the biggest opioid addiction crises of the past fifty years. Peter Sarsgaard is in the miniseries, playing an assistant US Attorney who begins what will turn out to be a massive federal investigation into OxyContin and Purdue. Peter chatted with Page Six about the drug, Hollywood and Big Pharma. He gave a little blind item too:

He was offered Oxy by an unnamed actor: “I’ve actually been offered OxyContin before by a fellow actor, and I saw what it did to him. So there’s no part of me that wants any of that stuff,” Sarsgaard, 50, exclusively told Page Six, without naming his drug-addled colleague. “Because of history in my family with a number of people, I don’t do any stuff. Also I come from an industry where I’ve seen people die from all kinds of drugs.”

He only takes what his doctor gives him: “I don’t say one’s [drug] a pharmaceutical and it’s OK because the FDA approved it. There were lobbyists that got them to approve it. I don’t trust that. I trust my doctor; I have a good doctor.”

Why he was drawn to Dopesick: “I have a personal connection in my life, several personal connections with people that have struggled with this exact thing in one way or another.”

On the Sackler family: “I mean, they — theoretically, they’re human. They must feel some sense of shame. But sometimes when you’re in this deep, cognitive dissonance takes over and you’re not really capable of facing it because it would be too horrible.”

[From Page Six]

I think people have this idea of Hollywood as all weed, cocaine, booze and mushrooms, but I think there are so many pharmaceuticals moving through Hollywood these days. Not just Oxy, other opioids and ketamine, but all kinds of heavy steroids too. That’s how men are able to “transform” their bodies into superhero-shape so quickly sometimes. Still, I’m curious about which actor offered Peter some Oxy. I have zero guesses.

'The Lost Daughter' photocall, 78th Venice International Film Festival, Italy - 03 Sep 2021

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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34 Responses to “Peter Sarsgaard: A fellow actor offered me OxyContin, but I wanted no part of it”

  1. Abby says:

    This book was incredible, and so sad. I’m glad they’re making a movie out of it because the message was so important.

    I don’t doubt there’s prescription drug use in Hollywood. Not at all. I’m glad for his sake that he has not gotten hooked.

    Opioids scare me. Reading this book was really eye opening to me. I was given a full prescription for hydrocodone for wisdom teeth removal in 2007 (height of the era of just handing these pills out) and I just took them, and even got a refill. I was 25 and had no idea what could happen if I got addicted. Thankfully I didn’t need more for the pain or any other reason. But that’s all it takes in some cases depending on various factors. Very scary to me. And I worry for my kids and their chances of falling into pills.

    • Me says:

      I remember poor Winona Ryder’s prosecution for theft years ago—I believe it came out in court that she had, I believe, give prescriptions for Vicodin from diffère doctors. The abuse of prescription drugs is and ongoing problem in our society. People don’t understand the risks, doctors actually don’t get much training in pharmacology—and patients end up addicted.

    • AMA1977 says:

      It sounds strange to say, but I am so glad that high-level painkillers have always made me nauseous, so I can’t/won’t take them. I remember getting a full script for Percocet after my son’s birth (2007) and not taking them except for the first one because they make me feel so awful; I made it through with Advil since the alternative was pain. I can see how it would have been incredibly easy to just take them, then get a refill, then continue down that slippery slope, especially if they’re prescribed for a legitimate reason. My husband had a doctor for years that we would jokingly call “Dr. Feelgood” because my husband would go in occasionally with a running-related injury or complaint (he’s a marathoner) and his doc would ask, “What do you want?” and prescribe any kind of muscle relaxer, painkiller, whatever with multiple refills. He’s not practicing any longer, and I wonder if he got in trouble related to his lax prescribing habits.

  2. gemcat says:

    He was in Black Mass right, so I am thinking Johnny Depp..as that is one drug (and booze) dependent shit-show of a man..

  3. North of Boston says:

    I appreciate most of his comments, but I paused at the “he only takes what his doctor gives him” part

    Many many people who wound up addicted could also say that … doctors were prescribing Oxy because they believed the drug companies’ statements that it was a non-addictive option.

    One of the best explorations of the awful impacts of this drug and the drug companies’ manipulative profiteering from it was the episode of one of Anthony Bourdain’s shows that explored its impact on a Massachusetts town.

    • Abby says:

      Yeah that part was a little weird. The whole point of dopesick was that doctors were/are writing prescriptions for these drugs and that’s how people got hooked.

      • Ry says:

        Yep. Noticed that, too. He’s making himself feel better by adding his doctor. Cognitive dissonance, indeed.

    • Wilma says:

      I read that part as that he has a doctor who doesn’t automatically prescribe whatever the FDA approved.

    • tealily says:

      Followed up with “I have a good doctor.” Not abusing pills isn’t the same thing as never taking medication. Find a doctor you trust.

      • Robyn says:

        That’s the part that stuck out to me too – he trusts his doctor. I side eye doctors who start writing a script without even looking at you and before you are even done talking in the 8 entire minutes alloted to you. I greatly appreciate that I now have a doctor who *doesn’t* believe in the “pill for every ill” model and does crazy things like talk about diet, movement, sleep, complimentary therapies, and testing before prescribing. They shouldn’t be so rare!

    • iconoclast59 says:

      Just coming here to say the same thing. I read somewhere that most doctors’ knowledge of pharmaceuticals comes from the pharma company reps who are selling the drugs to them — not exactly an unbiased source! You’re far better off talking to a registered pharmacist. You can also do your own research at MedlinePlus.gov; or, if you can handle the technical language, do a really deep dive at PDR.net.

  4. Normades says:

    I think Hollywood also takes a lot of anti depressants and anti anxiety pills like Xanax. These do NOT mix well with alcohol and other drugs.

  5. Eenie Googles says:

    “I think people have this idea of Hollywood as all weed, cocaine, booze and mushrooms,“

    …I dunno how mushrooms got on that list lol

  6. wordnerd says:

    I never realized how easily accessible those drugs are until this summer, when I went in for an egg retrieval for IVF and I woke up in immense pain so my doctor prescribed 10 Oxycontin pills. But, when my husband came home with my prescription, I opened the bottle to find about 30 pills. So, I called the pharmacy to ask if the dosage had changed or something, and the pharmacist was like “We must’ve been on auto-pilot and counted out the wrong number.” Ya think?! Triple the prescribed amount is a little more than auto-pilot.

    What was even scarier was that I only took 3 doses over 2 days, but once I stopped, I felt withdrawal symptoms (sweaty, shaky, anxious) and that was just 3 pills in 48 hours, so I cannot imagine the struggle so many have gone through who’ve been told to take this stuff routinely.

    • Eating Popcorn says:

      @wordnerd – yes they are highly addictive, even when taken as prescribed – a friend took the prescribed dose for 3 days following knee surgery and felt horrible when she stopped taking them. When she called the surgeon’s office to report her symptoms and tell them what was happening to her, they told she must be an addict and to look into rehab! I am not making this up… she explained that she wasn’t an addict and had taken medicine for only 3 days and was horribly sick. They had no guidance for her. She called her primary doctor who explained what was happening and had her rest for 24 hours and then she was fine.

    • Teebee says:

      Your story is super scary… every aspect. Wow.

      I have seen a couple of docs, and it is gut wrenching. I know someone whose adult child has gone down the spiral, now has lost custody of her children, cannot shake the addiction. But when the family doesn’t understand how they got addicted, or how powerful that addiction is, their dismissal of the addict as useless, weak, disgusting is just as sad. No one wins in this situation, there are so many victims.

    • MissMarirose says:

      I think its accessibility is very dependent on who the patient is. In my group of friends (all middle-aged professional women), the white women have had it prescribed to them by different doctors/dentists at different times for various pain management issues, but none of the WOC have. Last year, before lockdown, we were discussing the Sackler story at lunch and once we figured out that only our white friends had ever been prescribed that stuff, we thought it odd, but maybe not coincidental.

      • Eating Popcorn says:

        @MissMarirose – my story happened to a 55 yo white lady. My 22 yo son was given a prescription after surgery for a broken nose. He was in pain but refused to take them as he was terrified. He asked for some CBD/THC tincture instead (legal in our state) so we bought it for him with the idea we hadn’t ever heard of anyone’s life being ruined from it. He took it twice – rested comfortably and healed.

      • Psudohnihm says:

        I guess I’m kind of on the fence. Doctors are SO scared now to write anything that people who legitimately need it and DON’T abuse it, are denied and needlessly made to suffer.

        I’m fortunate because my neurologist, gives me an Rx for vicoprofen every few months. I use it sparingly because I try to use my migraine abortives (triptans) first and foremost, then anti inflammatories, fiorocet, along with other non addictive medicines.

        if the headache cannot be stopped by my many other means, then and only then do I go into pain management mode and use my narcotic. I note my medication rotation in a log for the day because if I use too much of one thing for a few days in a row it becomes less effective.

        I’m thankful for them. And I’m thankful I have one more medicine in my arsenal to help get through them. (And yes, I take daily prophylactics to manage them) inderal, zonagran, magnesium and I get Botox every 3 months) I can’t imagine not having access to them for when things are really bad.

      • BothSidesNow says:

        @ Psudohnihm, I can relate to your situation. I have been suffering from chronic pain since 99-00. I have had multiple surgeries, seen every specialist, looked under every rock. I have been called an addict looking for pills more times than I care to speak about, in addition to three psychological exams. I have been taking Oxycodiene for the last 20 years, on and off. I hate them!!

        Unfortunately, during these years of limiting and heavy oversight of prescriptions, it created a domino effect. Those who didn’t need them and the doctors who were abusing the system for kickbacks from drug makes and pill clinics, some still probably running, created an enormous microscope on those that needed them. I won’t bore you, but those of us who needed them suffered humiliation and embarrassment. Beginning to question ourselves, if it wasn’t all in our head after all, it was never ending.
        Luckily, I found a fabulous pain management doc and I use Vicodin patches that I place inside my cheek.

        What is disgusting is the fact that those who manufactured, distributed and handed out that poison are walking away with no punishments, not even to make them straighten there business practices or face any scrutiny. They will walk off with their billions without having to admit that they were guilty, as they didn’t. The Sackler name stays intact and wealthier than other countries as well.

  7. Another Nina says:

    I keep thinking how lucky I am…I have been prescribed these medications so often but took it only once.

  8. Nicole says:

    I think many people abuse prescriptions with the rationale that it’s not hard drugs. I’ve heard it time and time again especially from addicts that felt they weren’t addicted because it was prescribed by a doctor. BUT, they end up doctor shopping and they they go to street drugs when the doctor shopping stops working.

  9. NotSoSocialButterfly says:

    God, I avoid that stuff like the plague. I have several old prescriptions that I never finished after various surgeries. Even last spring when I had 3 poorly healed metatarsal fractures surgically corrected with bones sawed & screws and a plate in my foot, I only took 1 the first night… I had a regional block that lasted three days, but after that wore off, I only took ibuprofen and Tylenol around the clock for a week. To hell with oxycodone. Not touching it.
    ETA: yes I know oxycontin and oxycodone are not the same drug, I’m referring to all opioid narcotics in general.

    • Mrs.Odie says:

      Oxycodone is the drug in oxycontin. Oxycontin has the time release, I think.

      They definitely have their place. I have torn my cornea on multiple occasions (I have dry eyes) and the only thing that touches the pain is very strong opioid pain medicine. But that only happens to me about once a year and the pain lasts a day at most.

      • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

        Do you have Sjogren’s syndrome? I’m sorry to hear about the frequency of occurrence. That must be terribly painful.

  10. Chaine says:

    They have their place but it should be restricted to severe pain situations. I had surgery and I absolutely needed the opioid I was prescribed for about a week to tamp down the pain enough to sleep and start healing. But by the same token the medication was so strong that it was debilitating in and of itself, I couldn’t keep a thought in my head or do anything complicated.

  11. The Voice says:

    I’ve been prescribed this stuff (codine, Vicodin, tramadol) over the years and not only did they not help my pain but I felt horrible. Racing heart, sweating, super weak, and nauseated. I thought it was going to die. I take it I’m in the minority that it doesn’t help? I relied on Tylenol and even that didn’t help with my latest surgery (lapidus bunionectomy where I had bones sawed and a metal plate and screws put in) so I resorted to self-hypnosis.

    But damn this family, drug manufacturers, doctors, and insurance companies. Such greed. I wish those bad people could help people instead of create problems. If there’s ever a time to believe in karma…

  12. Mrs.Odie says:

    Reminds me of Sex and the City when Carrie told Samantha she had a headache and Samantha replies, “You want a Percodan?”

  13. Mrs.Odie says:

    Reminds me of Sex and the City when Carrie told Samantha she had a headache and Samantha replies, “You want a Percodan?”

  14. RR says:

    Glad to see this come out. I was prescribed oxycodone after ACL / Meniscus surgery which was VERY painful (no nerve block like they do now) and took less than what was prescribed, only when the pain was above 7/10. When I stopped taking it (I took less than half my rx’d amount – no refills) I went through full on withdrawal. It was horrible, no sleep, shaking, sweating, anxiety etc. I knew enough to know what it was and that it wouldn’t last very long but if I didn’t know I think I would have thought I was dying honestly. It was so awful I will never willingly take it again. 0 out 10, definitely do not recommend. It has happened to many many more people than you would think.

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