AARP Doc 'The Opioid Menace' Highlights The Epidemic's Wide-Reaching Impact

By Victoria Kim 06/13/17

The mini-documentary features intimate stories about people battling opioid addiction and their loved ones. 

David and Ann Niday
David and Ann Niday shared their story in the new documentary Photo YouTube

A new eight-minute documentary by AARP sheds light on the many ways the opioid addiction crisis has affected Americans individuals, families, and entire communities—especially among those older than 50.

David and Ann Niday tried everything to save their son, Michael, from his opioid use, but it wasn’t enough. He ultimately died of an overdose. “You do anything and everything to try to save this person,” said Ann. Michael’s issues affected the whole family—aunts, uncles, grandparents. At a certain point, the couple realized that no matter how hard they tried, they might not be able to save their son. 

“There came a point when we sat down with each other and said, 'We don’t know whether we’re gonna be able to save Michael with this, but we have to save ourselves and we have to save each other,'” said Ann. 

Rick Bowen lost both of his parents during the height of his opioid use, which meant he wasn’t able to make amends. Bowen got hooked on opioid painkillers about 30 years ago after getting injured at work. “I had to have three back surgeries, a couple of knee surgeries,” he said. 

His quest for opioids grew from frequenting pain clinics to doctor shopping to buying pills off the street. “It just kept snowballing until I actually overdosed and nearly died over that.” 

“The opioid crisis is multi-faceted,” said pharmacist Ric Griffith of West Virginia. "It evolved into the problem it is today. We’re seeing absent fathers, addicted mothers, and in many cases grandparents becoming the primary caregiver for their grandchildren."

Phyllis Summers had to raise her young granddaughter while her daughter struggled with drugs. “Her mother has been in and out of her life—mostly out,” she said in the video. “Sometimes she would be gone a month at a time, I wouldn’t know where she was at.”

Summers sank her life savings, $3,000, into sending her daughter to rehab. “I spent every dime of it,” she said. “[But] she took off again.” After struggling to get through to her daughter, eventually, things turned around for the family. 

At the time of her interview, Summers said her daughter had 17 months sober, and that she’s happy to have her daughter back.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr