It’s no secret that there is currently a heroin epidemic facing the nation. Across the U.S., 500,000 people are addicted to this drug. Heroin deaths now outnumber deaths from car crashes. The Surgeon General just released a report, the first of its kind, on addiction and its effect on health in the U.S. This is serious and it has been for a long time. Now the BBC has done some research bringing all sides of this epidemic to light.
International correspondent Ian Pannell of the British Broadcasting Company just released a harrowing docu-series investigating the causes, effects, and consequences of the current heroin epidemic in the U.S. Pannell and his cameraman Darren Conway traveled throughout the U.S. to gather their research and even communicated with Advanced Recovery Systems, an integrated behavioral healthcare management company based in Florida, to produce this in-depth documentary. Several trips were made to Advanced Recovery treatment centers and aftercare programs to speak to staff members and clients willing to participate about their addictions and recoveries. The BBC followed the journeys are several people seeking recovery from heroin and told their stories. They created several short segments and two longer documentary portions that have started to air around the world. Pannell and his crew also traveled to Mexico to investigate where the heroin is coming, why there has been a resurgence in the U.S. and attempt to understand why so many lives are being affected by this deadly drug. Dr. Timothy Huckaby of Orlando Recovery Center shared his own personal story of recovery and Jodi Russo, Director of Operations at The Recovery Village Umatilla and Next Generation Village spent a good amount of time speaking with the BBC team.
After traveling around the U.S. for several months, the BBC released the series, which even in the advertising clips, is hard to watch. A long 12-minute clip that previews the series shows drug use, needle use, and heroin overdose. It doesn’t leave much to the imagination. It also shows people in treatment, group therapy, and those who are in recovery, as well as speaks to a mother whose son died from a heroin overdose. It can be overwhelming to hear and see all of this on screen, but it’s necessary for people to understand the depth of the heroin issues occurring here right now. It also offers hope for those who have found treatment and thrive in recovery.
In another clip, Dr. Huckaby’s personal story of addiction and recovery hits you like a ton of bricks. It shows us that addiction does not discriminate, even doctors can be affected by this disease. As you see in the clip, Dr. Huckaby still gets emotional talking about the powerlessness of his disease. He perfectly articulates the hopelessness that so many of us feel and embody while we are in active addiction. His story also has a beautiful ending, he is now in recovery and giving back to those who are most in need. He gets to share his message and his knowledge with the people who attend Orlando Recovery Center. In the longer clip, you’ll see Dr. Huckaby singing and playing the guitar with some of the attendees of ORC.
Additionally, the docu-series depicts the new faces of the heroin epidemic. Several young people share the depths of their addiction. Many of them started with pain pills at a young age, graduated to heroin, and have even overdosed one or several times. Some of them mention having siblings or friends who have also battled addiction. It’s an intense depiction of the grip this epidemic has on so many people in the U.S.
Seeing this kind of drug use, death, and depression on screen can be overwhelming, but we can’t lose sight of what else this message sends: recovery works. The positive side of this docu-series is that several of these people, including Dr. Huckaby have successfully found recovery and live a happy, healthy life. We can’t lose sight of that. Drugs are powerful substances and the pull of addiction can be strong, but there are solutions. Treatment works, 12 step groups work, and there are many pathways to finding long-term recovery.