I don't get cable, so I haven't actually watched the show; but I'm not sure I would agree that only a "few" people are abusing prescription pain meds. Perhaps it varies depending on the part of the country you're in? Here in the Midwest we've seen numerous reports claiming that prescribed medications have become the biggest problem in the "War on Drugs".
I learned the consequences of this first hand after a string of burglaries in my parents' neighborhood left many people without their prescription meds (fortunately my parents have an alarm system). They live in a small, wealthy suburb where you would least expect anything like this to happen. Nothing was stolen from these homes *except* prescription meds -- jewelry, TV's, everything else was left. Some meds were leftovers from people's surgeries, others were from people in chronic pain who depended on them to get them through the day. What's worse is that one neighbor decided to lie & say there was a break-in at their house in order to get an extra refill. The police caught them which made it much worse on the rest of the CP people to try to prove that theirs really were gone & they weren't lying (good news, they did eventually catch the person, but most of the meds were already sold or reprocessed, so people were out all the money it cost to buy replacement meds). For some reason, wealthier individuals seem to be more involved in this than poorer neighborhoods, where around here at least, meth & heroin more common. Police in the urban area where I live are now recommending CP people never discuss what meds we're on with anyone other than immediate family & our doctor; plus, we have to get a safe or locked drawer to keep Actiq in because people steal it & sell it or steal it & mix it with other stuff to make heroin. I know it's hard to believe, but I've spoken teenagers and young 20-somethings who are deceived into believing that since they are FDA approved, they must be safer than traditional street drugs. I've also run across middle-aged women in their area that use pain meds to deal with stress or to "relax". That's not what they're meant for &, again, that can result in serious side-effects because their brains process the meds differently than CP brains would. They constantly need more & more. One of my former roommates got hooked on Vicodin after she broke her arm. She was taking 35-40 of them per day when it finally caught up to her & she had to drop out of school and check into rehab. As a result of her choice to "play the system", she will have serious health problems for the rest of her life. She said she had no idea they could cause so much harm.
The reality, as we've probably all experienced, is that there are side effects -- sometimes severe -- & that when pain meds are not properly titrated under a physician's supervision they can lead to life-threatening complications. There have been too many people who have bought meds off the street, taken too much & ... The police in my city have held monthly televised town hall meetings about the dangers of these meds (especially Actiq), but few people show up or tune in to watch them. Some of the families of these teens have talked about how they wished there would have been more information out there where it would actually reach people to address the potentially serious consequences of taking even a single dose (if too high) of prescription narcs. Yes, I'm sure Hollywood took some artistic license with the script, but at least it gets people thinking about, talking about & researching what the actual consequences of abusing narcs can be. To your specific point, pain meds -- especially in overdoses -- can cause nausea & the stomach acid that comes up eats away at your teeth. Anytime someone is constantly nauseous, regardless of the root cause, tooth decay & gum problems can result.
I agree that it's certainly a fine line between discouraging illegal use & abuse of pain meds and discouraging legal & proper use of them. IMHO, though, the more this problem can be brought out into the open & dealt with, the more likely people will think twice before stealing meds or conning multiple doctors into writing them overlapping scripts. When people do that it affects us all. Docs become more suspicious, malpractice insurance companies demand more testing & psych evals, disability providers set stricter guidelines. I for one think it would be great to live in a world where narcotic pain meds were never abused. Then maybe getting the treatment we CP patients need would be as stress-free as getting a prescription for antibiotics. Plus, I could dismantle "Fort Knox" and keep my pain meds by my bedside where they could be more readily available to me when I need them. :)
Just some thoughts.