Three days after the awards were presented, the political opinions were expressed and Frances McDormand’s statue was stolen and recovered, one of the most important stories from this year’s Oscars remains untold. Nestled alongside a handful of other nominees in the Best Documentary category was a film that shows the devastating effects of the opioid addiction epidemic on smaller and lesser-discussed communities. While Elaine McMillion Sheldon’s Heroin(e) came up short at this year’s Academy Awards, its importance and impact continues to resonate with audiences and critics, alike—and justifiably so. Its very nomination signals the scope and breadth of prescription painkiller epidemic that has consumed practically every area of this country.
The US Opioid Addiction Epidemic Captured in 39 Minutes
While the film primarily focuses on how the opioid addiction explosion has affected a practically off-the-map town in West Virginia, towns all over the country, from New York to Ohio to California, can relate to its substance. Perhaps one of the most powerful elements of the film is how it shows every stakeholder’s role in this public health issue, from first responders to law enforcement to volunteers and prevention advocates. Featured prominently in the piece are Huntington Fire Chief Jan Rader; Cabell County Judge Patricia Keller; and Necia Freeman of Brown Bag Ministry. Together, these women paint a compelling and heartbreaking picture of life on the frontlines of the opioid crisis in their community.
A Real-Life Look at the Everyday Problem
It’s easy for many to look at opioid addiction and other types of substance abuse in the abstract or as something that will never happen to them. What we have seen over the past ten years, and Heroin(e) so poignantly illustrates is that this problem can affect anyone, from our friends and neighbors to our colleagues to the professionals with whom we interact every day. This is a film that needs to be seen whether or not you or your loved one is battling opioid addiction, because it’s officially everybody’s problem. Heroin(e) is a Netflix original documentary and has screenings scheduled in multiple states on the East Coast.