Listen: The ‘Rock Doc’ Who Prescribed 1.4 Million Pain Pills

Jeffrey Young’s patients say he helped them like nobody else could, but prosecutors indicted him following a huge painkiller bust. His case offers a unique look at the opioid crisis.

A black-and-white image of tattooed arms, originally from Jeffrey Young’s reality-TV pilot. That photo is set into a colorful collage of art from the podcast “The Experiment.”
The nurse practitioner Jeffrey Young produced a reality-TV pilot in which he branded himself "the Rock Doc.” (Jeffrey Young II (The Rock Doc TV Show) - YouTube)

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The patients of the nurse practitioner and aspiring reality star Jeffrey Young say he helped them like nobody else could. Federal prosecutors who charged him in a massive opioid bust say he overprescribed painkillers, often for “money, notoriety, and sexual favors.”

Young’s case provides a rare glimpse into the ways patients wind up addicted to the powerful painkillers fueling the national opioid epidemic.

Branding himself “the Rock Doc” in a self-produced reality-TV pilot, Young would wear band T-shirts and blast music as he met with patients; he sometimes broadcast appointments and medical procedures on the live-streaming app Periscope. Off camera, Young allegedly prescribed 1.4 million addictive pills and had sex with female patients.

Young was indicted on drug-trafficking charges in April 2019. He pleaded not guilty to the charges, and is currently in jail awaiting trial.

“I had a lot of ‘Why on earth?’ questions,” the Atlantic reporter Olga Khazan says. “‘Why would he do this? Why would you go to this doctor? Why didn’t anyone try to put a stop to this?’ I just had a lot of questions about how could this happen.”

Further reading: “The Hard-Partying, Rock-Obsessed Nurse at the Center of a Massive Opioid Bust”


Be part of The Experiment. Use the hashtag #TheExperimentPodcast, or write to us at theexperiment@theatlantic.com.

This episode was reported by Olga Khazan and produced by Alvin Melathe. Editing by Katherine Wells, Julia Longoria, and Denise Wills. Fact-check by Michelle Ciarrocca and Jack Segelstein. Sound design by David Herman.

Music by Parish Council (“Dabbles”), water feature (“ariel”), Arabian Prince in a UK World (“The Feeling of Being on a Diet”), Keyboard (“Being There” and “My Atelier”), and Column (“「The Art of Fun」 (Raj)” and “Sensuela”), provided by Tasty Morsels. Additional music by Nelson Bandela (“04 HIDDEN FORCES” and “Auddi Sun 01 131”). Additional audio from Purdue Pharma, The Rock Doc TV Show, @JY2RocDoc, and Bat Pig Pictures.


A transcript of this episode is presented below:

(Abruptly, rock music begins to play, and then, just as quickly, it ends with a light echo.)

Purdue Pharma ad voice-over: Once you’ve found the right doctor and have told him or her about your pain, don’t be afraid to take what they give you.

Julia Longoria: Over 20 years ago, pharmaceutical companies began to market the use of a magical pill.

Purdue voice-over: Often, it will be an opioid medication.

(A shudder, a gasp, then clapping and bubbling evolve into a background track.)

Purdue ad doctor: These drugs—which, I repeat, are our best, strongest pain medications—should be used much more than they are for patients in pain.

Longoria: Opioids would be a new kind of painkiller to treat not just acute pain after an event like a surgery, but also pain that was more mundane, like chronic back pain that patients would complain about for years, but which doctors didn’t have a clear cure for.

Purdue voice-over: Some patients may be afraid of taking opioids because they’re perceived as too strong or addictive … but that is far from actual fact.

Longoria: Pharmaceutical companies marketed these drugs aggressively to doctors.

Purdue ad doctor: They don’t wear out. They go on working. They do not have serious medical side effects.

(The eclectic mix of sounds fades away.)

Olga Khazan: At the time, there wasn’t a lot of limits on pharmaceutical companies being able to tell doctors that.

Longoria: Olga Khazan is a staff writer at The Atlantic who’s been covering the opioid epidemic for the last seven years.

(Somber, reflective droning notes play up.)

Khazan: So doctors were kind of like, “Okay.”

Longoria: Hmm.

Khazan: A lot of them, unfortunately, went with it. And now we see the result.

Longoria: The result is that more than 450,000 people are dead from overdose in the last 20 years.

Longoria: And what part of the crisis were you most focused on?

Khazan: So I’ve written a million stories about this. But one thing that I was really curious about is how you actually went from having opioids being a thing that existed to having opioids be a thing that existed in people’s medicine cabinets.

(The music changes tone, becoming a little more up-tempo and treble-heavy.)

Longoria: There are many pieces to the puzzle of how opioids found their way into so many medicine cabinets. Aggressive marketing is one piece of it. Lax regulations played a role. But, in theory, there should have been a check on all this. To get from pharma lab to medicine cabinet, the drug needed to pass through one of the most sacred spaces in America.

Khazan: So, like, that doctor-patient interaction and how the opioids actually got prescribed.

Longoria: The doctor’s office.

Doctors, in theory, would only prescribe to people who needed the drugs and would monitor patients so they wouldn’t get addicted. The story of how that doctor-patient communication broke down—hundreds of thousands of times—is what Olga wanted to understand.

Khazan: There was this really big series of indictments that came down in 2019 where the federal government said, “You know what? We’re going to take the worst of the worst. Like, all these doctors who are really out of line and just writing so many scripts for so many addictive drugs, they’re really not being careful at all. And we’re gonna send a message.” They called it the single largest crackdown on prescription opioids in history.

Longoria: And one of those “worst of the worst” providers stood out from the others.

Khazan: The one that caught my eye was this guy named Jeff Young, a nurse practitioner who called himself the “Rock Doc,” quote-unquote.

(A snare hit plays, and the music changes tone again. It’s heavy, and it loops. It feels claustrophobic.)

Longoria: The indictment against the Rock Doc alleges that he prescribed more than a million addictive pills, treated patients while intoxicated, and used his prescribing power to have sex with women—including women who were his patients. And what’s remarkable about the Rock Doc is that he streamed his private interactions with patients online.

Khazan: I had a lot of “Why on earth?” questions: ‘Why would he do this? Why would you go to this doctor? Why didn’t anyone try to put a stop to this?’ I just had a lot of questions about how could this happen, you know?

(The music opens up into a technologic rainforest as synthesizers mimic birdsong.)

Longoria: This week, Olga Khazan peers into an internet portal to try to find one answer to how on earth we found ourselves in an opioid crisis.

I’m Julia Longoria. This is The Experiment, a show about our unfinished country.

(A long moment of music with no narration before it fades out.)

(What sounds like road noise plays in the background of a Periscope clip.)

Jeff Young: Are we live? Hey! What’s up kids? (Fades under.)

Khazan: The way I first got to know Jeff Young was through videos he posted online. And it was immediately clear that he is not your average medical provider.

Young: So, the, uh, the sinister minister—that would be me … (Fades under again.)

Khazan: He had an account on Periscope, the live-streaming site.

Young: (Moaning.) Aw, shit! What a great, great, great, great song! Oh, look, I got a new haircut today … (Fades under.)

Khazan: And he posted dozens of videos there.

Young: Even get all gussied up for tonight. (Fades under.)

Khazan: Jeff was working as a nurse practitioner at a clinic called Preventagenix in Jackson, Tennessee. And he’d stream from inside the clinic sometimes.

Young: All right. This is just gonna be a little freeze spray first.

Khazan: Anyone online could watch him, say, biopsy someone’s skin while listening to hard rock.

Young: (Over hard-rock music.) It’s gonna be a little cold, all right? You ready? Three, two, one.

Khazan: Or stitch someone up after they cut themselves on a wine glass.

Young: (Just after another person laughs.) Hey, are you paying attention? I’m in the middle of a life-saving procedure here. [A moment of indistinct crosstalk.] Look at me! Everybody pay fucking attention worldwide because I’m about to save this motherfucker’s life—live on Periscope broadcast!

Unnamed guest: I can’t believe he stabbed himself … (Fades under.)

Khazan: The videos were sarcastic and loose, intimate in their own bizarre way. They painted a picture of the kind of medical office where you might actually want to hang out. It wasn’t like any medical office I’d ever been to. And Jeff, sitting at the center of it, covered in tattoos—he had a sort of unlikely charisma too.

Young: Hi, my name is Jeff Young. I am a, uh, nurse practitioner. Jackson, Tennessee. (Fades under.)

Khazan: In 2016, Jeff tried to broadcast his world even more widely. He invited a cameraman to document his life and eventually had it edited into a pilot for a reality-TV show.

Young: What’s up, my friend? How’s it going?

Patient: Good, man. How you doing?

(The two clap each other’s backs in a half-hug.)

Young: Aw, I’m doin’ good.

Khazan: In the pilot, he presents himself as more of a friend than a medical professional. He would chitchat with his patients, ask them about their latest tattoos.

Young: What’s your new ink?

Khazan: But the pilot also showed the other side of Jeff. The grosser side.

Young: (Moans, then inhales.) Mercy me.

Khazan: Like, for example, here he is sniffing a pair of women’s underwear with his sidekick, a friend named Kevin.

Young: Uhh …

Kevin: High-class, high-class.

Young: (Guessing.) Victoria’s Secret.

Kevin: High-class female right there.

Young: Very nice. Actually very nice, yeah.

Kevin: I bet they still smell good.

Young: Yeah. You wanna do a test?

Khazan: To me, this felt immature, but it was all part of the brand. He was the casual party guy, not the stuffy doctor. And people in the pilot gave testimonials saying as much.

Rock Doc pilot testimonial: (Over heavy rock music.) And most doctors you’ve seen, they give off this persona as like, “I’m too cool. I’m too good for you because I got this money,” or whatever. Yeah. He may have that, but he’s not … He’s down to earth. He’s just laid back. He’s just one of the guys that you could drink a beer with, or you can go let him give you a shot in the ass … (Fades under.)

Christi Calles: His doctor’s office was just rocked out. [Khazan laughs.] That’s the only way you can describe it. It was just rocked out.

(Plucky yet funky music plays. It’s light and upbeat.)

Khazan: I started calling up former patients to try to understand the relationship Jeff had with them, and the appeal of this whole Rock Doc thing. Christi Calles lived 30 miles away in Lexington. She became his patient around 2016.

Calles: And I mean, he didn’t dress like your average doctor. [Chuckles.] I mean, he had his doctor’s lab coat on. Sometimes he wore scrubs, but most of the time he had on jeans, scrub tops, and a rock T-shirt, and a doctor’s jacket. [Laughs lightly.] But he, uh … He was true to himself; let’s say that. (Laughs heartily.)

Khazan: Which was exactly what she liked about him.

Calles: You could just tell by the demeanor that that was there. I mean, you could just kind of tell you could trust him. I mean, I worked at a bank for 15 years, and when you’ve worked at a bank and you’ve cashed checks, you have to judge people in two seconds. So you got to be a good judge of character.

You could see, almost, when you were talking to him, he was listening—and he was thumping that pen to the beat of the music.

Khazan: Do you remember what kind of music was playing?

Calles: Oh my gosh. Every single time I went to that doctor and I left, “Stairway to Heaven” played. [Khazan laughs, then Calles emphasizes each word that follows.] Every time.

Khazan: Did you like that song?

(The background music shifts tone dramatically to a wispy, light, contemplative energy.)

Calles: Yes. It really meant a lot to me. I had a brother that passed away, and when he passed away, his friends played that for him at his funeral. So it was kind of significant to me. So it just kind of, I guess, comforted me.

Khazan: Mhm.

Calles: I don’t know. But it played [Emphasizing.] every time.

Khazan: I talked to many of Jeff’s patients. Not all of them were into the whole edgy hard-rock thing at first.

LaRhonda Scott Deberry: When I first met him, I thought maybe he was prejudiced.

Khazan: LaRhonda Scott Deberry is a 54-year-old former teacher who lives in Memphis. She was referred to Jeff by one of her friends.

Scott Deberry: Everyone in his office was all white. All of his patients I saw when I would come would be all white. And, to be honest, most of the time when you see a white male with a lot of tattoos, they’re usually not someone that hangs around with people of different races.

Khazan: LaRhonda was skeptical—but she was also dealing with a lot of pain. In 2013, she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a chronic disorder that is usually accompanied by widespread pain and fatigue. It’s often called the “invisible illness,” because, even though the pain is very real for the person experiencing it, some doctors don’t take it seriously. It surprised her, but Jeff was attuned to all that.

Scott Deberry: And, you know, once you get around the tattoos and the way he talks—’cause he talks to you as if he’s talking to you on the streets … As long as he was going to take care of me and make me feel okay, or make me feel better, I had no problem with that.

Khazan: Part of making her feel better was prescribing her opioids. I can’t say for sure what the right course of treatment for LaRhonda was, and where opioids fit into that. But it seemed like she wasn’t the only one getting pain meds from the Rock Doc. She told me that while she was a patient at the clinic, she had a front-row seat to Preventagenix getting more and more popular.

(Ringing, soft music plays.)

Scott Deberry: When I first was going in the office, I could go in there and there’d be maybe 10 of us in there. When it was getting close to the end of when I was going, it would be packed. I mean, you would’ve thought they were giving away meds for free, to be honest.

Khazan: Not long after Jeff opened Preventagenix, the Tennessee nursing board started to investigate him for prescribing high doses of opioids to his patients, even when he didn’t have a good medical reason.

One story I found in a letter from Jeff’s nursing-board case stuck with me.

In 2014, Jeff started seeing a patient with the initials M.Y. M.Y. had lower back pain and complained of numbness in his left arm. Jeff refilled M.Y.’s prescriptions for Percocet and Valium and gave him a new one for hydrocodone. Jeff didn’t monitor M.Y.’s use, or talk to him about the danger of combining drugs.

The next year, Jeff prescribed M.Y. a dangerous combination of an opioid, a benzodiazepine, and a muscle relaxant.

Later that month, M.Y. was found dead of an apparent overdose.

(A moment of narrative silence. The music plays on.)

Khazan: LaRhonda didn’t know anything about all of this—the nursing board didn’t make their investigation public—but she was following him on social media.

Young: … So I’m gonna not have a cigar. We thought we would close out the day—the third Periscope of the day—with a little fireside chat.

Khazan: And some of what she saw really weirded her out.

Scott Deberry: Kinda made it start seeming like he was unprofessional.

Kevin: (In a Periscope video.) I don’t wear underwear.

Young: That was what I’m going to say. I don’t wear underwear. That’s the big joke. (Fades under.)

Khazan: Online, Jeff would get drunk and smoke cigars. He’d wear Halloween masks and make off-color jokes. Rumors started to spread in town that strange things were going on in Jeff’s office. There were reports of after-hours parties—possibly of Jeff having sex with his patients.

Young: Listen, I am for the patient. Always have been for the patient.

Khazan: In his Periscope videos, Jeff insisted it was all fun and games, and people were just criticizing him because of his style. The whole thing was Very Online.

Young: (Serious, and a little angry.) You may not like me. You may not like what I stand for. You may not like my tattoos. You may not like my rock and roll. You may not like my piercings. You may not like my sexy-ass beard. But you know what? You can all suck my d***.

Khazan: Jeff and his friend Kevin would often head to Periscope to defend themselves.

Kevin: Jeff and I are full of antics. You know that. And you can kind of look at it like locker-room talk …

Khazan: And sometimes they’d even ask their followers and fans to back them up.

Kevin: And we’re going to ask our friends—our warriors out there—to put these folks in their place, because, you know, the Golden Rule. Right?

Young: “Do unto others.”

Kevin: That’s right. (Fades under.)

Scott Deberry: I just didn’t like all the bickering on social media and in that newspaper. I’m like, I’m as outspoken as he is. I just asked him. I said, um, “So what are y’all doing after-hour? Y’all partying in the office?” [Chuckles.] He was like, “No, we do Botox and stuff for people,” and dah-dah-dah-dah. And I said, “And they say that you’re trading sex for medication.” He was like, “You know, these motherfuckers lie all the damn time.” [Chuckles.] He never admitted to anything that would make him look bad.

(Soft percussive synthesizer music plays.)

Scott Deberry: But after a while, when you read stuff, how many people could be wrong?

Khazan: In 2017, the very public world Jeff had built around himself started attracting a different kind of attention. The DEA raided Jeff’s clinic and seized all of his computers and thousands of doses of the opioid hydrocodone. A year later, the Tennessee nursing board suspended his ability to prescribe most opioids and other controlled substances for two years, saying that he had prescribed them irresponsibly.

The biggest blow came in 2019, when Jeff was indicted by the federal government for overprescribing opioids, often in order to get, quote, “money, notoriety, and sexual favors.”

In a court hearing, investigators described several Facebook messages between Jeff and his patients, identified only by their initials. To one patient, who he prescribed hydrocodone, amphetamines, and fentanyl, he said, “I accept all insurance. Will be glad to take the balance out of your ass.” To another, Jeff asked, “You want to come by for a checkup tomorrow? Wear a short skirt and no panties.”

(The music plays up for a moment.)

Khazan: When I first started talking to Jeff’s former patients, I thought I understood this story. It fit neatly, at least, into a story I was already really familiar with: It was the greedy provider who was allegedly taking advantage of his patients. I expected to hear lots of horror stories of abuse and mistreatment. But as I talked to more patients, they started saying things that really surprised me. One of them was that I had the story all wrong.

(The music becomes lush, multilayered.)

Khazan: That’s after the break.

(The music  crescendos before playing out into the break.)

(The intro to a rock song plays, with a driving, pulsing beat. Then it rewinds into nothingness.)

Khazan: The Rock Doc, Jeff Young, has been in jail for almost two years, awaiting trial. He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him. I asked to speak with him for this story, but because of a gag order on the case, his lawyer declined interviews with me. His lawyer also declined to answer any specific allegations.

We put out calls and emails to dozens of Jeff Young’s patients. Less than half answered. Many told me that they didn’t want to talk on the record. Some people from the area said they had been harassed by Jeff and were afraid to speak out. I tried to reach out to women who Jeff was rumored to have exchanged drugs for sex with, but none of them wanted to talk on the record. All of them said that they didn’t think Jeff sexually abused them.

The half-dozen former patients who did agree to talk with me were mostly people who wanted to defend Jeff.

Tanya Ballard: I think people are … Just didn’t like Jeff.

Khazan: This is Tanya Ballard. She’d come to see Jeff for a range of health issues, from diabetes to cystitis, and she just didn’t buy the things people were saying about him.

Ballard: I don’t believe Jeff overprescribed medication. I don’t. Because he prescribed my opiates, and I took them as prescribed, and I had no problems with it.

He was always polite. He was like a friend. I mean, if somebody pats you on the back, that ain’t coming on to you.

Khazan: Jeff had been good to Tanya in the clinic, which was an experience that she didn’t usually have with doctors.

Ballard: Most doctors don’t wanna touch you, and they only wanna address one issue at a time. They just, like, keep their distance from you. They don’t want to touch you unless they have to touch you. They’re standoffish towards you.

Khazan: Tanya had a different theory about where all the criticism was actually coming from.

Ballard: When it comes to the high-society people, like the pharmacists and these other doctors that were out to get money out of their patients—Jeff didn’t care about the money. Jeff wanted what was best for his patient.

Calles: I mean, the whole deal of him being in jail this long is completely unfair.

Khazan: Christi Calles was the patient who loved listening to “Stairway to Heaven.”

Calles: I mean, you have killers—murderers, I mean—that have not been in jail this long.

Khazan: Christi had really appreciated what Jeff did for her. He helped her a lot with her pain. He’d also given her tips on how to eat better and how to lose weight. He even convinced her to get weight-loss surgery.

Calles: I really am so thankful that he suggested that to me, because if he hadn’t have, I probably would’ve never done it, because I wouldn’t take anybody else seriously enough to even think about doing it. But when he suggested it the way he did, I took it seriously.  

Khazan: And Christi also told me a very similar thing as the other patients I talked to: She’s had terrible experiences with other doctors.

Calles: Doctors judged me because of my weight. They thought I was basically lazy and just wanted to have pain pills, just for whatever reason. And that was not the case at all. I had had back surgery, and I really had real problems that no one wanted to listen to me about.

Scott Deberry: You go to the doctor, and you tell them what’s wrong with you, and they look at you like, “Oh, it’s nothing. You’re just probably not feeling good.” But they never believed us.

(Droning music, reflective and cool, plays.)

Khazan: Even LaRhonda, the retired teacher who had soured on Jeff, told me that Jeff was the rare provider who would take her pain seriously.

Scott Deberry: When I told him, I said, “Every time I go to a doctor and tell them I feel like I have the flu, they look at me as if I’m delusional.”

Khazan: I’ve talked to a lot of patients over the years who feel very uncomfortable around their doctors.

There’s actually a diagnosis called “white-coat hypertension.” It’s when your blood pressure spikes in a doctor’s office because the whole experience is nerve-racking. And the word that kept coming up when people described Jeff is comfortable. He made them feel comfortable in a way that no other doctor did.

Calles: I just wasn’t getting the care I needed. I just didn’t feel comfortable. Have you ever been to a doctor and you just didn’t feel comfortable?

(A long beat of music. Then it fades out.)

LeAnn Naylor: I have not had a lot of positive interactions with doctors.

Khazan: LeAnn Naylor was the secretary for the mayor of Jackson when she started seeing Jeff as a patient.

Naylor: They would look at me and say [Dismissively.], “Oh, you look fine to me.”

Khazan: LeAnn’s story was similar to Tanya’s and LaRhonda’s and Christi’s. She told me that Jeff took her pain seriously.  But she also told me the story of her ex-husband. He wasn’t in pain. In fact, he avoided doctors at all costs.

Naylor: My husband hadn’t been to a doctor in years.

Khazan: He worked in the timber industry, and one day at work, he got overheated and disoriented. He’d wandered off into the woods. He tried to ignore it, but when he woke up the next morning, LeAnn noticed he still looked really bad. She texted Jeff.

Naylor: And I remember him saying, “Bring him to the office. I’ll meet you there. Thirty minutes.” And I remember texting him back, and I remember saying, “Jeff, he is a grumpy, old, country man, and he’s not going to be an easy patient, but something is terribly wrong.” And he said, “I got that covered too.” So I get my husband up there. Jeff immediately sees that he is in—you know, he’s in pretty bad shape.

Khazan: Her husband had severe dehydration and was suffering from a heat stroke. LeAnn said that Jeff stayed for hours, changing IV bags and chatting with him.

Naylor: They just immediately hit it off. And I was like, My mind is blown. He did know exactly what to talk to him about to make him feel at ease, and he impressed that grumpy old man so much that that was his primary-care doctor and the only doctor he would see. From that day on, he saw him for everything.     

Khazan: When Jeff’s indictment became public, LeAnn—like many of his former patients—was suspicious at first.

Naylor: I felt like he was being treated unfairly—that maybe he had even been set up.

Khazan: But she did remember this one hint she’d had that something might be wrong in Jeff’s office. It was a story her daughter told her about a time she got sick.

Naylor: I said, “Go see Jeff.” And she said, “I’d rather not.” And I said, “Why?” And she said, “Because if I go see him, he’ll start texting me and calling me.” And I said, “And … wanting to go out with you?” And she said, “Yeah.” That’s the thing. She said, “He latches on to young single mothers, and he rushes in and wants to”—quote-unquote—“save them.”

Apparently she felt strongly enough about it that he wouldn’t leave her alone if she went to see him.

And I’m like, “Oh.” [A beat.] But I was willing to overlook all that, you know? So he’s a little out there. That’s okay. That’s okay. I don’t like him asking out my daughter … But even then, I still went to him, and my ex-husband still went to him.

The allegations, when they started coming, though, really started coming fast. And even then, I didn’t want to hear it.

Khazan: Looking at all the allegations, I mean, it’s overprescribing—overprescribing to someone whose pill bottles had his name on them … and who died of a drug overdose.

Naylor: (A sharp inhale.) I didn’t know that.

Khazan: Does that change how you feel about him?

Naylor: (A long beat and a breath.) Yeah, that’s pretty—that’s very distressing. That’s very distressing … Yeah, I’m shocked, you know? … I’m very shocked. I don’t … I don’t even know what to say.

(Ringing leads into a soft, humming organ song.)

Khazan: Do you feel like Jeff has done more harm than good?

Naylor: That’s a really hard question for me to answer, because I believe—our whole family believes—that he saved my husband’s life. So, no, I can’t say that. Even now, I can’t say that.

Khazan: I was wondering if your ex-husband still supports Jeff or thinks he was a good medical provider.

Naylor: Yes, he does. Yes. I talked to him a couple of weeks ago. I told him about this podcast—explained to him what a podcast was. [Laughs.] And he said, “You be sure and tell them that Jeff is the best doctor I’ve ever seen.” He said, “Promise me you will tell them that.” I said, “I promise I will.” I said, “I will tell them that.”

(The music plays up for a long moment, then fades out under the narration.)

Khazan: In one sense, I understand some of Jeff’s patients’ defensiveness toward him. It’s hard to hear or believe that the only provider who’d ever been kind to you—who made you comfortable—had been accused of abusing other patients.

Young: (Over the sound of a pool-filtration system.) All right, guys. So, uh, here we are, sitting by the pool. We got a very, uh, important … (Fades under.)

Khazan: Because I couldn’t talk to Jeff, I’ve spent more hours than I want to admit combing through his Periscope videos, trying to understand this man. There’s this moment in one of the videos that I keep thinking about:

Young: (Over more pool filtration.) So what, I don’t go get fucked up at the country club with the rest of the stiffs here in J-Town? That’s not my fucking problem, all right? Not that they’re not cheating on their wives. Not that they’re not watching internet porn. Not that half of the, you know … powers that be are on some sort of whatever. Here’s what I can tell you. Here’s what I can tell you about the JY2, all right? (Fades under.)

Khazan: The first time I watched this video, I just heard Jeff making excuses. But the more time I spent thinking about it, the more I started to realize that Jeff has a point.

(Lo-fi synthesizer music plays up. Mellow and slow, it moves under the narration the way water moves through a stream.)

Khazan: Thirty-one doctors and seven other nurse practitioners were busted in that same Justice Department sweep that caught Jeff. Five other medical providers, just in Jackson, were indicted too. I have found accounts of at least 40 other medical providers in the country who have been accused of exchanging sex for addictive drugs.

Most of these doctors weren’t like Jeff. They didn’t have tattoos. They didn’t try to become reality-TV stars. They didn’t play “Stairway to Heaven” or have Periscope accounts. They didn’t drop F-bombs or smell women’s underwear online. They didn’t openly harass anyone who criticized them. But they helped create the opioid crisis all the same.

(A meandering guitar melody enters the background. It’s joined at points by a line of harmony played on a synthesizer.)

Natalia Ramirez: This episode of The Experiment was reported by Olga Khazan and produced by Alvin Melathe, with editing by Katherine Wells, Julia Longoria, and Denise Wills. Fact-check by Michelle Ciarrocca and Jack Segelstein. Sound design by David Herman. Music by Tasty Morsels and Nelson Nance.

Our team also includes Gabrielle Berbey, Emily Botein, Matt Collette, Tracie Hunte, and me, Natalia Ramirez.

We’re taking next week off to work on new stories, but we’ll be back with new episodes starting April 15.

You can find Olga’s written reporting on the “Rock Doc” at our website: http://www.theatlantic.com/experiment. And if you want to help other people discover the show, share it online with the hashtag #TheExperimentPodcast, and leave us a review on Apple Podcasts.

The Experiment is a co-production of The Atlantic and WNYC Studios. Thank you for listening.

(The synthesizer takes over the harmony, traipsing up and down the melody line before it quiets and the episode ends.)

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