Recovery Doc 'A New High' Now Available On Demand, iTunes

By Paul Gaita 03/20/17

The recovery documentary received acclaim after making a successful run through the festival circuit. 

Still from A New High
Still from A New High Photo via YouTube

The 2015 documentary featureA New High, chronicles a former Army Ranger's efforts to lead a group of addicts living in a Seattle-area shelter through an intense recovery program by scaling Mount Rainer. 

The film, which enjoyed a successful run on the festival circuit—including being the official selection for the 2015 Los Angeles Film Festival and 2016 Seattle Film Festival—was directed by Samuel Miron and Stephen Scott Scarpulla, who found the experience as profound as the participants on the climb.

Chief among the film's many achievements is its honest portrayal of life in addiction and recovery. "I think we all have preconceptions about what 'homeless people' and/or 'addicts' look like," Scarpulla tells The Fix.

"Hopefully, this film puts all of those notions to bed," he continued. "After my first week in the shelter, I quickly learned that addiction doesn't always resemble a guy on a corner with a cardboard box. It can look like your best friend, your neighbor, your boss, your lover. Addiction doesn't discriminate. And the more we recognize that openly in films and media, the more we can combat the stigma and get a clearer picture of truth."

For Miron, the project opened new venues of honest communication with people in his own life.

"The first time I went home after starting this project, I was very excited to talk about addiction, which was something I'd never witnessed before firsthand," he notes. "An old friend approached me one night and said that although she'd never felt comfortable sharing it with our friend group, she wanted me to know that she had been born addicted to crack, and that her mom had been an addict her whole life. She wanted me to know that I had witnessed addiction before, and probably more than I knew."

As the epidemic of opioid addiction and overdose deaths in the United States continue to draw national attention, both Scarpulla and Miron hope that A New High will foster greater discussion about addiction, and efforts to find recovery and hope like the one chronicled in their film.

"I don’t think I really understood how personal this film was going to be for many people, nor how life changing the experience was going to be for me," says Miron. "If A New High causes just one conversation to happen that helps just one person feel that it is okay for him or her to ask for help, for me, the film will be a resounding success."

A New High is now available for home viewing through iTunes and On Demand platforms nationwide.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.