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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Take two and if you live...

I recorded and saved the HBO documentary “Warning: This Drug May Kill You” which was directed by Perri Peltz who was one of the producers of Risky Drinking.  I wanted to watch it at a time when I would not encounter any interruptions by Riley or the telephone. I waited until after 10 p.m. when the house was quiet.

In the back of my mind I was thinking this film was just another warning not to do drugs. I’ve seen so many of these types of films on drugs and alcohol that I wasn’t really looking forward to seeing it. I thought… what can I learn from this film, probably nothing.  But, I couldn’t ignore a film directed by my friend, Perri Peltz. I was so very wrong to have doubted the film’s power. Within the first very scenes, I could feel my need for a box of tissues and a punching bag representing pharmaceutical companies.

Warning: This Drug May Kill You is a different approach to the drug epidemic our country currently faces. I didn’t understand that most people addicted to opioids became addicts through no fault of their own. It isn’t always someone using drugs for recreational purposes during parties or to be a part of the crowd. Instead it starts with a prescription from a doctor who wants to help the patient ease the pain after an accident or surgery. It was all so innocent in the beginning. The end is a completely different story.

The film contains four different story lines, with the same underlying theme:

A mother of three, Wynne was prescribed opioids after a painful C-section. Ex-husband Britt remembers that as she became addicted, “Doctors were just throwing pills at her [and] she became a totally different person.” In 2008, with Wynne in her tenth rehab facility, Britt filed for divorce. Though Wynne, who shared custody of her children, made an effort to be in their lives and appeared to be getting better, a bout with kidney stones found her leaving the hospital flush with pain meds. Her teen sons found her in bed the next morning, an overdose victim.

Teenager Brendan was prescribed opioids following surgery to remove a cyst; four years later, addiction claimed his life. His parents, Brian and Gail, had supported his efforts to get clean. Fresh out of rehab, however, Brendan overdosed, and was revived by Narcan – a drug that can reverse heroin overdose, but often leaves addicts more vulnerable. Unaware of the withdrawal symptoms he was facing, Brian and Gail were devastated to find their son collapsed in his bedroom, having overdosed again, this time fatally.

David and his wife, Judy, are still reeling a year after the loss of their daughter Georgia to an overdose. Her story is all too common: After suffering a back injury, Georgia was prescribed heavy painkillers, and soon graduated to heroin. On Thanksgiving, David found Georgia comatose in the living room, with a syringe nearby.

Suffering from kidney stones at age 16, Stephany was treated with Dilaudid, Oxycontin and Vicodin. She ended up sharing the pills with her older sister, Ashley, and when their supply was abruptly cut off, both turned to heroin. Stephany vowed to get clean after Ashley fatally overdosed, but the process has been difficult. With her mother’s support, Stephany enters “A Way Out,” a 30-day state-sponsored rehab program involving local police departments

I was proud to be a part of the production of Risky Drinking. Although there were some things I would have liked to have seen done differently. It was an excellent portrayal of the life of an alcoholic. In my opinion, Warning: This…, is a far superior film.

Warning: This Drug May Kill You is not about what life is like for an addict. It’s more about how the addict got to be an addict and what the family goes through trying to get help for the addict. It’s about the pharmaceutical companies feeding the pubic with false information – intentionally. It’s about the doctors who fail to monitor use of the drugs after they are no longer needed. It’s about US as a community who shake our heads in shame towards the one person who needs our support and understanding the most. It’s about the addict who lost the ability to say – “I’m not taking this prescription.” because they don’t understand how devastating it can be to them.

Thank You and Kudos to Perri Peltz, director, Sascha Weiss; producer, Larissa Bills; editor, Geof Bartz. For HBO; senior producer, Sara Bernstein; executive producer, Sheila Nevins for asking the hard questions. Thanks to all of you for being brave enough to take on this topic from the viewpoint expressed.

If I had been a part of Warning: This Drug May Kill You, I wouldn’t have wanted to change one thing.

The documentary will also be available on HBO ON DEMAND, HBO NOW, HBO GO and affiliate portals. Please watch with anyone you know who is taking pain medication so they may become informed.

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