A new documentary about the darkside of Cape Cod will debut on HBO at the end of the month. "Heroin: Cape Cod, USA" offers an "unvarnished look at the heroin epidemic sweeping America," according to an HBO release.
The film, which focuses on eight heroin addicts here on Cape Cod, is directed by Academy Award-winning director Steven Okazaki. Each of the subjects of the documentary are in their 20s and live in the Falmouth area.
"Heroin: Cape Cod, USA" is an unflinching look at the growing heroin addiction epidemic plaguing the Cape, the state and the nation. In 2014, more than 1,000 people died in Massachusetts from a heroin overdose.
Eighty percent of heroin addicts, including 24-year-old Cassie--one of the documentary's subjects, became hooked on heroin after being prescribed an opioid painkiller following an injury. Once the prescription is up, many turn to cheap and easily available heroin. "Either you work or you do drugs," one of the subjects says in the film. But heroin addicts don't often know how strong their heroin is. The prevalence of fentanyl-laced heroin has also added to the steep rise in overdoses--often fatal--occurring across the Cape each day.
Once only used by EMTs and hospital workers, police officers and the friends and family members of heroin addicts are also now armed with Narcan, an opioid antagonist. The nature of heroin makes it a gamble every time a user injects the drug into their system. The film documents each of the users' "cycling through the stages of rehab, recovery and relapse".
In addition to Cassie, who became addicted to heroin after being prescribed opioid painkillers for a soccer injury, there is 21-year-old Jessica, prescribed painkillers after being hit by a drunk driver, 25-year-old Ryan, prescribed painkillers following a motorcycle accident, 22-year-old Marissa who tried a friend's painkiller and eventually died of an overdose, 25-year-old Nicole, who got high before admitting herself to rehab, 28-year-old Daniel, who deals to support his habit, 23-year-old Arianna, who had two children before dying of an overdose and 21-year-old Benjamin who started using heroin in high school.
This is not the first documentary to shine a light on the heroin crisis here on tawny Cape Cod. In 2014, local first-time filmmaker Sam Tarplin debuted "What Happened Here: The Untold Story of Addiction on Cape Cod". Tarplin's film featured interviews with addicts, their family members and members of the community including local legislators and law enforcement.
"Heroin: Cape Cod, USA" will premiere at Cape Cod Community College in West Barnstable on Thursday, December 17. Governor Charlie Baker has invited fellow lawmakers to join him at a screening of the film at the Revere Hotel in Boston on Tuesday, December 15. This year the governor assembled a working group to tackle the state's growing opioid crisis.
"There are very few people I met in Massachusetts who didn't have a connection to this crisis," director Steven Okazaki said. "I think this documentary could have been made in many communities around New England and across the country."
The documentary will debut exclusively on HBO at 9 p.m. on Monday, December 28. It will air on HBO on 12/28 at 2:45 a.m., 12/30 at 2:45 a.m., 1/6 at 11:45 p.m., 1/12 at 11:50 p.m. and 1/21 at 4:15 a.m. It will also air on HBO2 on 1/2 at 4:05 p.m., 1/4 at 8 p.m., 1/14 at 12 a.m. and 1/20 at 3:45 p.m. "Heroin: Cape Cod, USA" will also be available to HBO NOW and HBO Go subscribers.
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Watch the trailer below.