PLATTSBURGH — If you are struggling with substance-use disorders or know someone who is, go online and watch the documentary, “Addicted to Hope."

If the above parameters do not pertain to you, watch it anyway.

“It is a new, regional documentary designed to raise awareness about substance-use disorders including heroin and opioids and also designed to reduce the stigma associated with treatment,” said John Bernardi, CEO of United Way of the Adirondack Region.

For Bernardi, it was an honor to work on the project.

“I was asked by the three coalitions to put this together on a regional basis, and I found it to be an extremely rewarding experience,” he said.

“It is my hope that this will save lives and make a difference for our friends and families across the region.”



The documentary focuses on combating the heroin and opioids epidemic in the Adirondack region.

It's a Tri-County initiative of Substance Abuse Prevention and Recovery of Clinton County (SPARCC), Essex County Heroin & Opioid Prevention Coalition (ECHO) and the Franklin County Prevention Task Force.

“It's local people from throughout the region who are sharing their stories of addiction and recovery and sometimes loss of a loved one,” Bernardi said.

“It's a group of courageous people, some children, some adults who share really fascinating and interesting stories about their own experiences. It's very moving and inspirational.”

The documentary is 35 minutes long and was directed by Bruce Carlin of Carlin Media, and Bernardi is the executive producer.

They started the project in the spring of 2018, and launched it in January of this year.

“Our goal with the documentary is to utilize it as a tool for outreach to schools, organizations and civic groups,” Bernardi said.

“What we found it is a tremendous vehicle for starting a conversation. The feedback we've received about it so far has been outstanding. It's very well received. People are praising it and utilizing it in a variety of different settings.”



The documentary features speakers from all walks of life sharing their viewpoints on the epidemic.

One of the most poignant sections is a group of Peru Central School students talking about how it has impacted their lives from foster care to chaotic relationships with parents.

“Drugs are really easy to get,” said Rayna, an 8th grader.

Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie states that a bag of heroin sells for between $35 and $40 here while it nets only $5 in New York City.

Franklin County Sheriff Kevin Mulverhill shares the uncomfortable truth that there's a hardly a day that somebody hasn't died or become severely ill as a result of the epidemic.

“These are your neighbors,” he said.

"These are your friends. These are your relatives. These are your brothers, your sisters, your cousins. I mean these are not disposable people.”

Plattsburgh resident and business owner Ed Kirby's son Kyle overdosed, and he is committed to helping anyone he can so they don't ever have to walk in his shoes.




The documentary explores many facets by talking to professionals in law enforcement, the court systems and health care.

“Addiction is a brain disease,” said CEO and President Bob Ross of St. Joseph's Addiction Treatment and Recovery Center.

“There is a lot of understanding that trauma at an earlier point in one's life can lead to addiction. So, we're becoming much more of a trauma-informed treatment community.”

The documentary follows the highs and lows of the people on the front lines, but it also offers hope.

Deidre was always down for drinking or whatever.

She knows she is fortunate to be alive, and she knows she was lucky that what is out there now was not in her community then.

She turned herself around after attending a peer's funeral.

“This is a lifelong process of self-growth,” Deidre said.


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