‘Hillbilly Heroin’ On ‘Law & Order’
Posted on 02.04.17 by Danny Glover @ 1:28 pm

I often start my Saturdays by watching a few episodes of “Law & Order,” and right now I’m watching one from 2002 that I must not have seen before. I would have remembered it if only for the “hillbilly” slam against West Virginia.

The episode, titled “Oxymoron,” is about a murder related to a drug dealer who specializes in the highly addictive narcotic oxycodone. About 15 minutes into the show, the main police characters in the show — Lennie Briscoe, Ed Green and Lt. Anita Van Buren — have a conversation about the drug in question. Here’s an excerpt from the transcript:

Van Buren: Oxycodone?
Green: Yup, they call it “Hillbilly Heroin.” Some genius in West Virginia figured it was easier to get than moonshine.
Briscoe: Yeah. Yuppies and housewives who don’t want to see themselves as users get it from their doctors.
Van Buren: And the insurance companies foot the bill?
Green: Mm-hmm. Until they stop paying. Then they got to go to the guy on the corner.
Briscoe: Pills go for about a dollar a milligram on the street. Eighty-milligram pills, 100 pills to a bottle– that’s 8,000 bucks a bottle.
Van Buren: That’s not a bad profit margin.

I get that opioids are a huge problem in West Virginia, even more now than when “Oxymoron” aired 15 years ago. The epidemic of abuse is so well-known that it appears to have motivated drug manufacturers to flood the state with hundreds of millions of pills, amounting to 433 pain pills for every state resident, regardless of age.

“Hillbilly heroin” also is an actual slang term for describing this scourge in rural America, where people looking to get high can’t afford the drugs of choice for the rich and famous like cocaine. So I have no problem with the writers of “Law & Order” incorporating it into the script.

But the wisecrack suggest that West Virginia is the home of rednecks who either drink moonshine or get their fix from oxycodon was a predictable typecast straight out of Hollywood. Odds are good that whoever wrote that line has never been to the great Mountain State.


Filed under: Culture and Entertainment and Health and News & Politics and Rednecks and West Virginia
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