ASAM 2015 Media Award Honors Bess O’Brien For 'The Hungry Heart'

By John Lavitt 05/13/15

Bess O'Brien's documentary shines a needed light on the healing power of conversation and basic care in early recovery.

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The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) has honored Bess O'Brien with the 2015 Media Award for her documentary The Hungry Heart. The award presentation took place at The ASAM 46th Annual Conference in Austin, Texas on Saturday, April 26. ASAM President, Stuart Gitlow presented Ms. O’Brien with her award during the 2015 Awards Luncheon.

Recognized for its intimate look at the hidden world of prescription drug addiction, The Hungry Heart perceives this dark underbelly through the eyes of Vermont pediatrician Fred Holmes, who works with patients struggling with this disease. Dr. Holmes prescribes Suboxone to his patients struggling with prescription drug addiction, but struggles with the idea of replacing one drug with another, particularly since many of his patients have diverted their prescriptions and sold the Suboxone on the street.

In its award letter to Ms. O’Brien, ASAM noted that the film was being honored because of “its unflinching perspective of the prescription drug and opioid addiction epidemic seen through the eyes of physician Fred Holmes and the many brave folks in the movie struggling with this disease.”

Given each year to a nominated party, the ASAM Media Award recognizes a newspaper, magazine, television, radio or website story, column, film, or program that improves the public’s understanding of addiction, addiction treatment, recovery, or the profession of addiction medicine. Other recipients are acknowledged for their service and contributions to the advancement of addiction medicine, public policy, and education.

Produced by Kingdom County Productions and directed by Ms. O’Brien, The Hungry Heart is on an independent tour across New England and beyond, if the funds are raised. Recently, the film was featured in Little Rock, Ark., at the Attorney General’s Opiate Summit. The documentary shines a needed light on the healing power of conversation and basic care in early recovery. In The Hungry Heart, the many faces and diverse populations of addiction are revealed as well as the continued and difficult search for a life of recovery.

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.