I hate needles. They make me feel squirmish. My phobia is a bit of a disadvantage when I want to watch a documentary on drug addiction because they usually involve needles. I did not have to worry when I watched Heroin(e).
Heroin(e) shows the problem without actually showing the problem. It follows three women – a fire chief, a judge and a street agent, all in West Virginia battling the destructive opioid epidemic. It is a relatively short documentary at thirty-nine minutes long, and what it provides is real people dealing with a persistent problem. Heroin(e) makes the point of not displaying statistics every two minutes to evidence the issue. By showing supportive people at hand going to the scenes of where the overdosing takes place, is enough to validate the point; drug addiction is a problem and it continues to rise. It makes more of a statement that drug addiction hurts normal everyday good people. The documentary shields you away from the victims who have overdosed. You may see a leg or the back of the head, but Heroin(e) treats it with utmost sensitivity and respect. There is far too much media material that shows the effects of drugs and usually, it shows the person from a negative perspective.
The three women provide insight more than I bargained for in such a small time period. You almost want to applaud at how selfless they are by the time the documentary ends. This is not a piece of media to give them the window of opportunity to show off, but a window to give the audience awareness of what really happens. The fire chief segments are much more horrific of course, but when you witness the judge at work in Drug Court you understand the effort and patience that must be required to deal with the epidemic in the justice system. In the end though, if Heroin(e) proves anything conclusive, it is that we merely firefighting the problem.
Heroin(e) is worth the watch and if you are anything like me, that believes we should have better systems in place to help those addicted, you will feel enlightened to see there are actual good people on the ground trying to help and not just to add to statistics. The issue is real. The people affected are real. This documentary allows you to understand that. It is a Netflix Original so not hard to access.
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Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.