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By Jamie P | 22 October, 2019 Published in Resources
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America’s history of the drug crisis has distroyed millions of lives.

The ongoing opioid epidemic is being the deadliest yet in US history [1].

It’s thus not surprising to learn documentary filmmakers are presented with a wealth of materials to tap into and shed light on the nation’s drug crisis.

With drug overdose as now the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50 [2], compelling stories with shots of unvarnished scenes can help awaken the nation to what is going on.

And the five documentaries reviewed here achieve just that, they will make you feel uncomfortable.

And that is the point -to kick-start conversations about the addiction crisis.

But before we take a look at the documentaries, here’re a few fast facts about the nation’s drug crisis [3]:

  • The ongoing US opioid epidemic is the deadliest yet
  • In 2017 alone, about 1.7 million people, their substance use disorders were a direct effect of being prescribed opioids as pain relievers
  • Around 652,000 people in 2017 said they struggled with heroin use disorder
  • Overdose deaths in the U.S were about 70,200 in 2017 alone
  • The volume of prescription opioids peaked at 240 biliion mg of morphine in 2011 but has since dropped to 29.2 billion of the same as of 2018
  • According to data from the National Centre for Health and Statistics, 15% of ER visits by teens and young adults resulted in opioid prescriptions
  • That drug dealers make billions of dollars at the cost of your dignity, and even life is a fact

That said, here’s a look at the must-see documentaries.

Some of them like “Dr. Feelgood,” for example, addresses how the opioid crisis began merely from doctor prescriptions.

The others like “Heroin(e)” is an inspiring film documenting a small community’s effort to get rid of the drug crisis spill from its fabric.

Take a ride into these unembellished scenes of human misery, struggles, and stories of triumph.

1. “Dr. Feelgood”

For doctors, painkillers do really give them enormous power to heal, and if one is not keen, the power can get into his/her head.

Such is the case with one fine, Dr. William Hurwitz, whose story gets highlighted in this documentary.

Starting with the innocent motive of helping his patient manage pain, he would prescribe opioids, albeit liberally.

But after the power got into his head, he would soon abandon his medical code for opioid trafficking and overprescribing.

Investigators would later discover that he had prescribed above 80,000 pain pills to some of his customers. His disgraceful act earned him 25 years in prison.

But the documentary is not just about the good doctor’s fall from grace story; it also highlights the moral dilemma doctors face too that when treating a patient’s pain using pain killers, the risk that the pain pills would set the patient down the drug dependence path will always exist.

2. “The Trade”

With beautifully shot videos of desperate scenes, this showtime docu-series really does tell the story of human suffering as a result of the opioid crisis.

You are going to see a woman injecting heroin while her friend steps into the bathroom to use too. Then the woman starts sobbing saying she hates the “shit” -heroin – and the friend consoles her.

They later bond over a cigarette. It’s really going to make you uncomfortable.

But that’s the whole point, to make people talk about the drug dependence epidemic.

The camera is going to roll, and you’re going to see a group of women with their children at home as police search their house filled with lots of heroin.

You are also going to see shots of Mexican poppy farmers too.

In the end, this documentary manages to capture a genuinely wrenching scene involving addicts, families, and law enforcement as they struggle to curb the opioid epidemic.

Everyone in the docu-series is at the frontline of the drug crisis, and that’s what makes it compelling.

3. “Heroin (e)”

This Oscar-nominated docu-series from Netflix uses the story of three women and their efforts to reduce the opioid epidemic in their Huntington community, West Virginia.

A community where opioids related OD’s are ten times that of the nation’s average [4].

Jan Rader is a deputy chief at the local Fire department and fights for a naloxone fund.

Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, and members of Jan Rader’s department use it when responding to overdose calls; it helps the victims breathe again.

Necia Freeman, the other woman, is a local realtor but moonlights around the Huntington streets with her Brown Bag Ministry, providing food and advice to prostitutes.

Then there’s Judge Patricia Keller, who works to put addicts on the recovery road. While set in W.Va., this story of struggle and hope is a lesson that could benefit any city

4. “Take Your Pills”

Take a closer look at the rise of prescription drug abuse in America with this Netflix Docu-series from the Schwarzenegger women.

Get an insight into how prescription stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall end up abused.

The documentary takes a look into amphetamines and the belief that stimulants can help gain a competitive edge -better academic and work performance.

Such shambolic beliefs are the main driving forces behind the surge in prescription stimulant abuse.

It also highlights the dangers of ADHD drugs, making it a must-see documentary.

5. “A New High”

For those on the recovery road, emotional and physical support is key to making it. Knowing that triumph is within reach despite the ups and downs inspires one to stick to commitments.

And the 2015 movie “A New High” highlights this as it follows the inspiring stories of a diverse group of men and women as they make use of an unorthodox recovering program -mountain climbing – to overcome homelessness and addiction.

Set somewhere in Seattle, this inspiring movie tells the story of Dawn, a 41-year-old who is it to overcome the nightmares of crack addiction and getting abused in his childhood.

The other character is Shane, whose meth addiction has legally kept him away from his son. There are other characters, too, e.g., those struggling with heroin addiction and homelessness.

In the end, through the visually stunning unvarnished scenes of recovering addicts attempting to “climb” out of homelessness and addiction, we learn that no matter the odyssey, hope will get you through it.

Sources:

1. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opioid_epidemic_in_the-United-States

2. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_KsaWpeCj98

3. https://edition-m-cnn.com/2017/09/18/health/opioid-crisis-fast-facts/index.html

4. https://www.drugabuse.gov/opioid-summaries-by-state/west-virginia-opioid-summary

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