Dopesick is a difficult ­— but necessary ­—- watch. Georgia Humphreys chats to creator Danny Strong, plus stars Will Poulter and Kaitlyn Dever

Prepare to feel a sense of rage when tuning into drama miniseries, Dopesick.

That is certainly how members of the cast felt when delving into the story (which is based on true events) of the opioid epidemic that has swept across America, and has subsequently led to thousands of overdoses.

"It made me feel furious and I, thankfully, am not directly linked to anyone who's been lost. I can't even imagine what it's like to be a victim of this crisis, to be battling with the disease of addiction in relation to this drug," reflects London-born actor Will Poulter, 28, whose breakthrough role came in The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader.

"And for the families of the victims, and the people associated indirectly with this, my heart goes out to them."

The new Disney+ show, created by Danny Strong, is a scripted drama inspired by the New York Times bestselling non-fiction book by Beth Macy, and explores the struggle various people have faced with opioid addiction.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription.

After pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that people would not become addicted, healthcare providers began giving more and more patients opioid pain relievers in the late 1990s.

But there is now evidence that increased prescription of opioid medications has led to widespread misuse of both prescription and non-prescription opioids in the US and Dopesick examines the role that a company called Sacklers, who own Purdue Pharma (a pharmaceutical company), allegedly played in triggering this national crisis.

In Dopesick, Poulter plays Billy Cutler, a sales rep who was employed by Purdue Pharma to help launch their new drug OxyContin, which is a form of Oxycodone, an opiate painkiller used to treat severe pain.

"If you look at just how many lives have been taken as a result of the opioid crisis, it's also an immensely impressive and disturbing PR cover-up from the Sacklers and from Purdue (Pharma)," notes the star, who's also known for The Maze Runner film series.

"So, I'm really grateful to people like Beth Macy, with her investigative journalism, and the book that she created under the same title of Dopesick, and writers like Danny Strong, who have brought the truth to light and have allowed people to see the realities of how we got to this stage.

"What sickens me the most is the fact that Purdue and the Sacklers managed to vilify the addicts and the victims of this crisis throughout the process," follows Poulter.

"For the prevailing narrative to be that the opioid crisis is due to a handful of people who derailed an otherwise good drug because they were looking for a high, that's so upsetting, because it couldn't be further from the truth.

"This was a drug that was introduced as a legitimate non-addictive form of pain relief, and it was a dangerous, highly addictive narcotic, and the reason it was introduced was solely for financial gain, and that's the upsetting reality that we have to confront."

Discussing the horrifying realities behind the show, writer Strong reveals how he heard numerous stories of someone "that got injured, their doctor gave them OxyContin, they said it was safe, and within a week, they were addicted to it, and within a month, they were taking heroin — someone who had never once had drug issues or substance abuse issues or alcohol issues".

Dopesick, which also stars Michael Keaton, takes viewers into a mining community in Virginia. There, we meet Betsy Mallum, a victim of the opioid crisis, played by 24-year-old Kaitlyn Dever.

Keaton plays Betsy's doctor, Samuel Finnix.

The pair have a close relationship but that is tested when OxyContin is made available.

While preparing for the role, what was it that surprised Dever the most?

"In my research, I was finding a lot of facts on the basic side effects of the drug, but I didn't really realise how much it really changes a person," explains the Arizona native, who is known for film Booksmart and Netflix mini-series, Unbelievable.

"It genuinely changes your decision-making process and the way you interact with people, and that was something that was really, really shocking to me, and heartbreaking to discover."

With a story like this, when there are already a lot of news articles and information about it, Dever recognises how great it is to be able to humanise the characters and allow people to connect to the people involved on a deeper level.

"In turn, that helps people have empathy towards victims who are dealing with opioid addiction and learn that it is not so black and white.

"This is something that was very important to Danny Strong; he did not want to sugarcoat any of this," she continues.

"Often, I've seen addiction romanticised in a lot of ways in film, and he didn't want to do that either.

"He just wanted to tell this story really, honestly, and in a very, very grounded way."

Throughout the episodes, the story travels to the hallways of the DEA [United States Drug Enforcement Administration], and we witness how people are trying to take down the corporate faces who they believe should be held accountable.

Strong, who has previously written film The Butler and co-created TV series Empire, hopes that the show will have a real impact when it comes to action being taken.

"There are two consequences that would be ideal; one that I don't think will happen, and one that I hope will happen.

"The first, that I don't think will happen, would be a criminal investigation in the Justice Department and in Congress into the Sackler family.

"I think that Richard Sackler, Kathe Sackler, and Mortimer D. A. Sackler, there should be criminal investigations into their conduct in regard to the marketing and distribution of OxyContin."

The star, whose acting credits include Gilmore Girls and Buffy The Vampire Slayer, continues avidly: "The show gets into therapies in the last two episodes, in treatment for opioid use disorder; many of them are stigmatised, these treatments, but they're actually highly effective.

"(I hope) that perhaps if people watching this show suffer from opioid use disorder, family members will be open to these treatments and perhaps start them, and that we could maybe begin a path of recovery and turning the corner on this crisis."

Dopesick will premiere exclusively on Disney+ Day on Friday, November 12, in the UK & Ireland.