July 27, 2022 – A graduate of a Brooklyn yeshiva, David, a pseudonym, had enrolled in New York’s prestigious Cornell University with the goal of getting into medical school. His family, immigrants from Russia, wanted him to become a doctor and put a lot of pressure on him. Opioids were never his drug of choice, but they flooded the drug market and he started taking some of the painkillers, mainly OxyContin and other forms of Oxycodone, since the pills were so easily available.

He got his degree in biological sciences and worked a series of jobs in the medical field, but he was struggling with depression and med school wasn’t working out.

“It was a big weight on my shoulders that I just couldn’t overcome, and the embarrassment of not fulfilling those aspirations drove me into isolation, from almost all my friends, from healthy daily activities,” said David, who asked that The Times of Israel withhold his real name for privacy reasons.

He was hooked on the anti-anxiety benzodiazepines and still taking the painkillers when the government started to crack down on prescription opioids. Doctors became reluctant to write prescriptions, making the pills hard to come by. Reluctantly, he began turning to street heroin for a similar high.


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