Video: Indiana Sheriff Produces 'Heroin: Not a Problem, an Epidemic'

By Zachary Siegel 07/27/15

Sheriff David Reynolds wanted to document how heroin has ravaged his county.

Sheriff David Reynolds
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Sheriff David Reynolds of Porter County, Ind., recently made a short film from inside his county jail called Heroin: Not a Problem, an Epidemic.

The video is made up of brief interviews with young white suburbanites who are serving out sentences for crimes related to their addiction to heroin. Many were charged with possession of heroin, syringes, or were jailed after an overdose.

The stories are remarkably similar. Many were young when they first tried prescription opioids like Vicodin or Percocet, and eventually came in contact with someone who had heroin. Most were in their teens when they first tried heroin and it quickly took over.

A few themes emerged from those stories, such as how accessible heroin is in Porter County, which is just a short drive away from Chicago’s South Side where heroin is sold in open-air markets.

“Everybody knows somebody that can get it,” one detainee said to the camera.

Another theme is regret: “If I can go back in time to the first time I shot up, I would probably tell on myself. I would probably tell my parents, alert my coaches,” that same young man said.

The short documentary-like video shifts perspectives from young incarcerated users to parents who have lost children to heroin overdose.

“I never, in my wildest dreams, could imagine that she would die from a heroin overdose,” one grieving mother said about her daughter. She went on to urge young people to try and think about their futures, and about the consequences of their decisions to try drugs like heroin. 

The last interview is with Chuck Harris, the Porter County coroner. “We’re the ones who see every overdose,” he said, which gives him a unique eye into the magnitude of the problem.

In a "Scared Straight" moment, Harris stands next to a gurney with what he says is a body of a young woman who he suspected was the most recent heroin overdose.

“Every time I go to to one of these scenes, I’m always constantly reminded that this could be my kid laying on the table ... this drug affects everybody,” Harris concluded.

Check out Heroin: Not a Problem, an Epidemic right here:

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Zachary Siegel is a freelance journalist specializing in science, health and drug policy. His reporting has also appeared in Slate, The Daily Beast, Salon, Huffington Post, among others. He writes often about addiction, sometimes drawing from his own experience. You can find out more about Zachary on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter.