VICE Premieres 'Heroin Crisis' Documentary

By McCarton Ackerman 06/03/16

Airing Friday night, "Heroin Crisis" spotlights the devastating impact of the heroin epidemic domestically and internationally.

VICE Premieres 'Heroin Crisis' Documentary
Police revive a local man after a heroin overdose in the new documentary. Photo Vice/YouTube

A new documentary that examines America's heroin problem premieres tonight. "Heroin Crisis"the latest episode of VICE's HBO documentary series—delves into both the domestic and international sides of the heroin epidemic, reporting from poppy farms in Mexico to America's heroin overdose capital, Huntington, West Virginia.

VICE reporter Thomas Morton interviews an anonymous poppy farmer, who shows him how to cut poppy plants. He explains that Americans are poppy growers' main consumers, but desperation among the locals also fuels the business.

“Even though you know it’s wrong, there are no other jobs. This plant is all people here have to support themselves with,” said the grower. “We’re aware that by planting this, we hurt many people. There are many who throw away their lives just to get high.”

In a video preview of the episode, paramedics are shown reviving a Huntington man who overdosed on heroin, with Narcan. They told VICE that this was hardly an isolated incident.

“We’ve had this gentleman multiple times in the last couple weeks,” a paramedic told Morton. “It’s very common that we have repeat overdoses.”

Over the last year, President Obama has brought forth initiatives to help combat the growing opioid epidemic. Last October, he issued a memorandum to expand access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and to increase opioid prescription training among medical professionals. The memo also states that the Obama administration is aiming to double the number of physicians who can prescribe buprenorphine for treating opioid dependence, double the number of physicians who are registered with their State Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, and double the number of providers that prescribe naloxone.

"Heroin Crisis" follows on the heels of several recent network specials that also tackle America’s heroin epidemic. CBS Evening News premiered the multi-part series "In The Shadow of Death" last month, which focuses on 30-year-old Jason Amaral, a heroin addict from Massachusetts who has struggled to maintain sobriety for over a decade. And in March, ABC News also aired its own special "Breaking Point: Heroin in America" in which journalist David Muir visits several families struggling with heroin addiction, documenting the toll of addiction and the frustration involved in finding real help.

You can catch "Heroin Crisis" tonight at 11 p.m. Eastern on HBO.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.