Painkiller: Is Christopher Trejo Based on a Real Person? How Did He Die?

Netflix’s ‘Painkiller’ tells the story of the opioid epidemic from a fictional lens. The show traces it from the beginning when Richard Sackler first got the idea to make OxyContin and focused on making money, even if it meant hundreds of thousands of people would suffer. As Purdue Pharma aggressively markets its product, trying to get every doctor to write a prescription for the drug, things start to get out of hand as more and more people get addicted to OxyContin. When it comes to the story, the Netflix series stays true to the facts, but it makes some changes and takes artistic license to dramatize some parts of the story.

However, it doesn’t want the audience to think that anything about the show is fictional. It doesn’t want the audience to forget that real people have fallen victim to corporate greed and the lack of proper regulation from government institutions. For this, at the beginning of every episode, we meet the people who have lost their loved ones to the opioid epidemic. One of those people is Jennifer Trejo, who lost her son, Christopher. If you want to know more about him, we’ve got you covered.

How Did Christopher Trejo Die?

Christopher Trejo died on November 20, 2019, at the age of 32, after years of struggle with addiction. His name is etched in the Memorial Garden at Immanuel Baptist Church in Highland, California. In ‘Painkiller,’ his mother, Jennifer, tells the audience how Christopher was first prescribed OxyContin when he was 15-years-old. When OxyContin was first rolled into the market, Purdue claimed that it had less than one percent chance of causing addiction. It later became clear that this was a gross misrepresentation of facts, but thousands of people, like Christopher, had already fallen victim to it by then.


Born in El Paso, Texas, Christopher spent a good part of his life in San Bernardino, California, where he went to college. He had a passion for sports and played baseball since he was five. He harbored a love for music, history, reading, and video games. He is remembered fondly by his friends and family, who remember him for his infectious laugh and how he made everyone around him happy. Apart from his mother, his family includes his grandmother Janet, sister Angela, brother Anthony, nephew Evan and Nixon, and niece Natalya.

Christopher’s death was heartbreaking for his mother, but it also motivated her to help others going through the same struggles his son had. Jennifer Trejo, who lives in La Crescenta, California, founded the Christopher Trejo Foundation, which is focused on “giving basic necessities and some hope to the addicted and homeless in San Bernardino and Los Angeles.” Jennifer also joined the fight against Purdue Pharma and showed up at protests with a sign that read “Sacklers Killed My Son.” In honor of her son’s memory, she continues to work for the people affected by the opioid epidemic and seeks justice for them and her son.

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