New documentary explores the recovery side of addiction
When David Packhem asked Scarborough High School student Ashton Record to help film a drug addiction and recovery documentary that would be useful for teens, Record offered succinct advice.
“If you’re going to make a documentary and hope to show it to the kids, don’t try to scare them,” he told Packhem. And don’t judge. “No teenager wants someone to be critical and cruel.”
Now a senior, Record is part of the production team of “Voices of Hope: The Rugged Road to Recovery,” a 12-part documentary that focuses on young people who have struggled with substance abuse disorders and who are in. recover and lead a healthy lifestyle. Produced by a regional collaborative organization known as Students Empowered to End Dependency, the documentary began airing in May at 7 p.m. Saturdays on WGME in Portland and WABI in Bangor. It also airs on WAGM in Presque Isle.
Packhem, COO of Pineland Farms Natural Meats in New Gloucester, decided to direct the documentary after learning about the recovery community from his son, Chris, who became addicted to alcohol in 2018 and is recovering. – and in the documentary. “My wife and I understood better what is going on with drug addiction and we felt motivated to find out more,” he said.
“Voices of Hope” is the result of their learning experience. Packhem partnered with filmmaker Reginald Groff of Groff Films to direct the series. Packhem had seen Groff’s film about Maine Zoo artist Cain, “Peace, Love and Zoo,” and liked the idea of a film that told first-person stories of people who had experienced healing. Through his family’s experience with his son, Packhem became familiar with – and inspired by – the strength and candor of those in recovery.
“Their stories are amazing and they’re not afraid to tell them,” Packhem said. “We often look for inspiration in our lives, and I have never been more inspired by a group of people than by the people I have met recovering. One of the things I learned from them, recovery has become a daily discipline for them, like exercise or meditation. This daily practice leads to a profound transformation.
Packhem and Groff initially discussed a 90-minute film, but the idea developed into a documentary series as the interviews piled up. “The epiphany of our onward movement came from filming the initial interviews and realizing their quality and diversity of topics,” said Groff. “They weren’t all the same. When there are so many different topics and you want to give them the attention they deserve. “
Students empowered to end their addiction include Morse High School students in Bath, Gorham, Scarborough, Windham and Yarmouth. The Scarborough Police Department is a partner in the project. Packhem said the organization’s goals are simple: reduce the number of young people who use drugs or alcohol, teach the science of substance abuse disorders, reduce the stigma associated with it, and promote drug and alcohol services. recovery.
The first six 30-minute episodes will air in early June, then repeat, in order, for another six weeks. They will be followed by the final six episodes, said Packhem, who has made an 18-week paid airtime commitment for the series. He recruited sponsors to help pay the costs.
Record works on the documentary as a member of the production team, contributing his talents to story development and general production tasks. “For me, this project was never about preventing people from taking drugs. It won’t happen, and I’m not sure it should, ”he said. “It’s about giving people information and making sure people understand what they’re going through, because not everything people experience is the same. We try to convey information to people so that they can understand it through a factual lens and also so that they know where to ask for help. “
Among the voices of “Voices of Hope” is Justin Reid, who co-founded Providence Retreat, which features the understated Providence Place home in Portland. He adopted Packhem’s idea of telling first-person stories directly from people in recovery, who can explain how and why they became addicted, what they did to quit using and how their lives turned out. improved. “I think back to the prevention effort when I was younger,” Reid said in an interview. “My earliest memory was the ‘Just Say No’ and the egg in the pan campaign, and DARE and other programs all based on scare and scare tactics.”
These campaigns did not work, he said. “They never stopped me from using substances,” said Reid, who graduated from Scarborough High in 2001. The voices of those who are willing to share their stories openly and honestly are much more effective, a- he declared.
Brittany Reichmann is one of them. She graduated from Windham High in 2007, and says no one who was close to her when she was young would have guessed that she would become addicted to heroin. “I was a dynamic young girl. I went to school, I loved school, ”she says in the first episode. “I loved sports, I loved spending time with my friends.”
She started drinking at the age of 14, while maintaining A’s in school, playing football and participating in student council. In her first year, she and her boyfriend stole her father’s Vicodin, she says in the documentary. They each took a pill. “For me, that was that moment of – that’s what I want to feel every moment for the rest of my life and whatever it is, I’m going to make sure I can do it.”
Eventually, she became addicted to heroin.
She talks about her journey because she knows her story helps others. “This has always been important to me as my life keeps getting bigger and bigger and I feel further and further away from the chaos and hell in my life, it’s so important for me to speak up, to share how beautiful my life is, because it’s been so dark for so long, ”she said in an interview. “Much of my faith in taking action to get well, I’ve seen other people do it and they’ve talked about it. I began to see that it could be done.
After each television broadcast, episodes are available on the Voices of Hope website.
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