NOW ON VOD! Come see how Norman Rockwell’s Thanksgiving got the turkey replaced with fistfuls of opiates in the chilling documentary Anonymous Sister, directed by Jamie Boyle. It features footage spanning three decades that captures members of her family being turned into junkies to enrich the Sackler family. In the beginning, we see a happy family, with some very adorable footage of the director when she was tiny, begging to hold the video camera. It’s The Fabelmans cute, though the trainwrecks Boyle would later shoot would be much different.
Her older sister Jordan was a figure skating star until she sustained nerve damage from repeated landings on the ice. Her doctor put her on pain medication, and she ended up on Oxycontin, which she was told to take every day. Her tolerance for the drug rises to where higher doses are needed to fight the pain that, ironically, the opiates intensify. Jamie films her sister’s deterioration with their mother. Julie is unable to do anything to stop it. That is because Julie was also prescribed Oxycontin for back pain and is also strung out. All they did was follow their doctor’s orders. Unfortunately, the doctors were subject to an aggressive marketing campaign that underplayed the addictive nature of narcotics.
“…Julie was also prescribed Oxycontin for back pain and is also strung out.”
Anonymous Sister is a very important chapter in the great American drug-mare caused by Oxycontin. It is well known by now how the Sackler family, inspired by early 90s New York heroin chic, found a way to legally bottle up smack that could play in Peoria. The cover story was someone could take one pill and have steady doses of opiate pain relief over 12 hours. The drug could be easily abused by pulverizing it so that the time-released doses would hit all at once, making it better than heroin. This would create an instant black market demand that the Sacklers profited from legally.
For years, Oxycontin’s lethality was presented as the result of criminal misuse instead of its intended application. What is unique about Boyle’s film is that it shows what happens to the patients who took Oxycontin as advised. Neither Jordan nor Julie were getting high like the pill crushers. Instead, a feeling of ease is described in the film as what normal people must feel like all the time. Both used Oxycontin as directed, and both were turned into junkies anyway. They were not anti-social renegades or tortured souls. They were a regular middle-class suburban family who were caught in a national epidemic of junk.
"…a very important chapter in the great American drugmare"