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A Focused Light on the Opioid Crisis

A Focused Light on the Opioid Crisis


Kudos to media giants of the past and present Time magazine and Netflix for shining a focused and humane light on the worst addiction epidemic in US history: the opioid crisis.
According to the Huffington Post, In 2016, the annual overdose death count reached nearly 64,000, more than three times as many as in 1999. It surpassed the number of fatalities from automobile crashes and homicides, becoming the number one cause of death among Americans age fifty and younger (Vestal, 2018).
But statistics alone can’t tell the story.

Time magazine, for the first time in its ninety-five-year history, devoted an entire issue, “The Opioid Diaries” (March 5, 2018), to one photographer’s work. Veteran conflict photographer James Nachtwey travelled across the country to gather sto-ries from users, families, first responders, and others at the heart of the epidemic.
The editors of Time wrote, “We are in the midst of a national emergency that affects every state, every income group, and virtually every age. While the burden has fallen disproportionately on the least-educated Americans, tens of millions of us are no more than one degree of separation from someone struggling with addiction” (Goldberger, Pollack, & Vella, 2018).
An equally compelling portrait is the Oscar-nominated original short documentary film Heroin(e), produced by Netflix and cohosted by The Partnership for a Drug-Free America.
Heroin(e) chronicles the once bustling industrial town of Huntington, West Virginia that has now become the epicenter of America’s opioid epidemic—with an overdose rate ten times the national average. But within this distressed landscape, Pea-body Award-winning filmmaker Elaine McMillion Sheldon (Hollow) shows a different side of the opioid crisis—one of hope.
The film highlights three women working to change the town’s narrative and break the devastating cycle of substance use one person at a time. As America’s opioid crisis threatens to tear towns and communities apart, Heroin(e) shows how the chain of compassion holds one town together.
Heroin(e) is the film we need now, because it gives us hope; it shows us that individuals, in practicing kindness and in treating this as a health issue, can and will make a difference; and it shows that there are solutions that work in this public health emergency (Feliz, 2018).

While “The Opioid Diaries” reflects a national warzone, like Heroin(e) it also shows signs of hope from the people who are dealing with the crisis at street level. As Nachtwey stated, “They are refusing to allow our country to be defined by this prob-lem. They are helping find solutions. We must join them” (Moakley, & Nachtwey, 2018).
And indeed we must. 

Feliz, J. (2018). Partnership cohosts Heroin(e) Netflix documentary film screening in New York City. Retrieved from https://drugfree.org/newsroom/news-item/partnership-co-hosts-heroine-netflix-documentary-film-screening-new-york-city/
Goldberger, B., Pollack, K., & Vella, M. (Eds.). (2018). Our national crisis. Time. Retrieved from http://time.com/opioid-addiction-epidemic-in-america
Moakley, P., & Nachtwey, J. (2018). The opioid diaries. Time. Retrieved from http://time.com/james-nachtwey-opioid-addiction-america/
Vestal, C. (2018). Overdose deaths fall in fourteen states. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/overdose-deaths-fall-in-14-states_us_ 5a8ef368e4b05ffbefca1690

In Memoriam
Dr. Jennifer Leslie Gray Golick, PhD
1976 – 2018
All of us at U.S. Journal Training, Inc. and Counselor magazine were shocked and saddened to learn of the death of colleague and respected faculty member Dr. Jennifer Golick.
The Jennifer Golick Memorial Scholarship has been established by Muir Wood Adolescent and Family Services. Muir Wood founder and Executive Director Scott Sowle speaks for each of us:
“We live in an unfortunate reality where unspeakable gun violence is too often overlooked. I want Jennifer’s incredible spirit to remain always in focus. Jennifer was integral in the development and the heart of the program at Muir Wood for many years. I’ve heard from so many boys and families since her passing who are devastated by this loss. Boys have told me that they are alive today because of her. If there is a place where the best of us go after this life, Jennifer is most certainly there.”

Gary Seidler

Consulting Executive Editor
Counselor, The Magazine for Addiction & Behavioral Health Professionals,
A Health Communications, Inc. Publication