Kentucky Heroin Awareness Video Campaign Aims To Educate

By John Lavitt 10/13/16

The video series addresses the state's opiate epidemic, law enforcement efforts and the impact that addiction has on families. 

Kentucky Heroin Awareness Video Campaign Aims To Educate
Still From Heroin Hurts PSA Photo: via YouTube

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky has launched a video campaign to educate communities on the opiate epidemic plaguing the state. Whether it’s prescription painkillers, heroin or now fentanyl, the drugs have ripped apart families, leaving addiction, criminality, and overdose deaths in its wake.

In order to combat the problem, the four videos in the campaign—which are all available on YouTube—offer a variety of perspectives of the problem from a substance user in recovery and his parents, to a federal prison inmate and parents grieving the loss of a child to an opiate overdose. 

The videos address topics such as the origin and escalation of the opiate epidemic; why a person turns to opiates; the nature of opiate addiction; what parents need to know to educate their children on the dangers of opiate abuse; and law enforcement efforts to combat the problem.

Heroin's Hold PSA

“To win this fight, we must clearly understand what we’re up against. We must acknowledge that the opioid epidemic threatens every segment of our community and we must eliminate the false stereotypes and misperceptions that hamper our efforts,” explained U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey in a statement. “These videos provide important insights from those who, in one way or another, have been deeply affected by this epidemic.”

The videos are part of the USA HEAT program that was specifically designed to combat the opiate epidemic ravaging Kentucky. The videos range from four to 22 minutes.

As the longer video of the bunch, "Heroin’s Hold" is informed by the expertise of medical, public health, and law enforcement professionals who are able to present a more detailed sociological look at the opiate epidemic.  

In addition, families share their stories of the overdose deaths of their loved ones, offering counsel while recovering drug users provide insight into the horrors of addiction. For example, Alex Elswick, a substance user in recovery, recalls the daily hell of being addicted and a user’s desperate need for the drug. “We called it getting well … you wake up sick as a dog. You got to do a shot of heroin to feel like a normal person. The biggest misconception about addiction is people don’t understand how miserable it is.”

Heroin is Hell PSA

Both "Heroin is Hell" and "Heroin Hurts" cover similar ground with recovering substance users and their families, illuminating the power of opiate addiction and the struggle to get clean. At the same time, families that have lost their children detail what happened and how the disease of addiction obliterated choice and common sense, leading directly to the almost casual slide into overdose.

Finally, "Heroin is Here" gives a federal prosecutor and a DEA special agent the opportunity to detail the history behind the opiate epidemic and how Kentucky has been handling it, highlighting the introduction of fentanyl as a factor that has intensified the problem.

Heroin Hurts PSA

Beyond the quality and accessibility of the information presented, the awareness campaign provides the ability to feel the pain of the families in a manner designed to help other families in the future. Such an opportunity for proactive empathy is truly valuable. For example, in "Heroin’s Hold," Jessica Scott, the sister of Jolene Marie Bowman, who overdosed from heroin after becoming addicted to prescription painkillers, says poignantly and pointedly, “The main thing is don’t preach, don’t judge them. It is hard. It’s hard to go down there and get out of it.”

Heroin is Here PSA

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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.