"Everyone in this white, rural county of 67,000 has a theory about what happened here," Hull writes. "It was the global economy that took away the coal-mining jobs. It was Purdue Pharma marketing OxyContin as a less-addictive painkiller. It was greedy doctors who needed to pay for their beach condos in Gulf Shores. It was the druggies and scammers abusing the system. It was God being taken out of the schools. It was the government allowing Medicaid patients to get $800 worth of painkillers for a $6 co-pay. It was too few jobs and too many with headsets."
"Two generations of prescription painkillers have changed the way people die here," Hull writes. "Even more, they have changed the way people live. Great-grandparents are now raising the children of addicted parents and grandparents. Four out of five arrests in the county are drug-related. Every week a local newspaper called Just Busted publishes the arrest photos, the exhausted faces on display in most mini-marts next to the $14.99 synthetic urine products guaranteed to fool drug screenings."
Headlines about drugs, pills and opioids are common in the local Daily Mountain Eagle. In December four people were arrested on felony drug charges for having Oxycodone pills. In November a local doctor plead guilty to illegally distributing narcotic painkillers. In April a drug dealer and three others were arrested for having cocaine, heroine and methamphetamines.