Two weeks ago, I went to the movies with some friends. As a working mom of two preschoolers, I don’t get out much. I was excited - giddy, actually – to go out with the girls. We were headed to The Neon, a quirky, local, independent theater. It’s a Dayton institution and I had never been before. My excitement felt inappropriate, though, because the show we were about to see was a documentary about the heroin epidemic, filmed right here in Dayton.
My coworkers and I had been invited by CareSource to a screening of America Divided: The Epidemic. The show was followed by a group discussion about the opiate crisis that has resulted in thousands of overdoses and more unintentional drug-related deaths here than anywhere else in the country. If you live in Dayton, you know what I’m talking about. If you are reading this from elsewhere, know this: There is no more space in the morgues. There is not enough Narcan. We are no longer shocked when we see images of unconscious parents in cars, their children wide awake, strapped into car seats in the back. Very bad things are happening in our great little Midwest city.
Although America Divided: The Epidemic was well-done, it was hard to watch. It was exciting to see Dayton landmarks on the big screen. It was horrible to see the real footage of overdoses happening in the streets surrounding those familiar places. The film, hosted by actor Peter Sarsgaard, whose cousin struggles with addiction, explored several causes of the crisis – unethical marketing and over-prescription of painkillers, decline of the middle class due to factory closures, cartels. There is no easy solution to a problem with such myriad causes and though the discussion afterwards was difficult, it was also inspiring to be in a room full of people committed to finding solutions and providing help to those affected. Dayton’s drug epidemic sometimes feels insurmountable, but there are small things we all can do to help combat this crisis.
Here are three ideas that made a big impact on me:
After the film, as my coworkers and I headed to our cars, we heard sirens and had to wait for an ambulance to pass before we could cross the street. “There goes another one,” my coworker said.
Thank You, CareSource, for the opportunity to see and discuss this important film. America Divided is available on Hulu, Epix, and Amazon Prime. Filmed in the lead-up to the 2016 election, each episode examines a current issue in the context of inequality. It was produced by Shonda Rimes, Common and Norman Lear and features familiar Hollywood faces including Zack Galifianakis, America Ferrera, Jesse Williams, and Amy Poehler, each of whom has a personal connection to the topic they investigate. Watch it. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.