"Roseanne" Takes On The Opioid Crisis In Recent Episode

By Victoria Kim 05/17/18

The episode may seem all-too-familiar for Americans living with chronic pain and opioid dependency.

Roseanne Barr and John Goodman
Photo via YouTube

In the latest episode of Roseanne, we learn that (spoiler alert) Roseanne Conner is dependent on her pain medication, and her husband Dan (John Goodman) is none too pleased.

The show successfully portrays a problem that’s ailing many American families who see no relief for their chronic pain but through powerful pain medication.

The couple celebrates their 45th anniversary over a few glasses of champagne. But Dan notices that Roseanne (Roseanne Barr) is more sloshed than she should be, and she reveals that she’s kept a stash of “secret bottles” of Vicodin in the house.

The next morning, the couple have a conversation had by many chronic pain sufferers who rely on the very pain medication that is driving the opioid problem in the United States. 

Dan confronts Roseanne with three pill bottles he found stashed around the house. “Why don’t you tell me how big of a problem I have?” he asks.

Roseanne admits, “Okay! I’m in pain so I take a few extra pills. It’s not like I’m a dug addict.”

Some of the medication is not in her name. She got them from a fellow parent. “[Billy] got them when he got his wisdom teeth out,” she said. “If it wasn’t for me, the kid might have gotten hooked on pain pills.”

Dan is angry that Roseanne lied about the extent of her problem.

“I just didn’t say anything because we can’t afford the surgery. And I got these pills because I’m going to be dealing with this for a long time,” said Roseanne.

She promises to cut back, but Dan doesn’t believe her. “No you won’t. You’re taking these for more than pain,” he said. He tells her to book the knee surgery, which will cost the family $3,000.

Roseanne worries about how they’ll come up with the money, but Dan doesn’t see a choice in the matter. “Look, if it’s between you OD-ing and me coming up with the money, I’ll figure out something. I know you can do this.”

Dan goes out for a walk, and Roseanne reaches in the freezer for an ice pack for her knee. She unscrews the cap and pulls out a baggie of more pills, making sure it’s intact.

For some chronic pain sufferers, pain medication is the only thing that can get them out of bed and allow them to function from day to day. Patients have pushed back on tighter limits on pain medication, as the government has cracked down on over-prescribing.

With less access to their vital medications, some have reported turning to illicit opioids in a desperate attempt to ease their pain.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr