“Heroin: Cape Cod, USA” (2015) by Steven Okazaki.
«Mr. Okazaki said he approached the documentary hoping to humanize his subjects in part to counteract the oversimplified view of addiction that many people hold, including the perception that young people are to blame for choosing a life of addiction. (…) “When you’re 14, you make huge mistakes. Kids are disconnected, depressed. It’s when their relationships with their parents are at their worst. It’s not the same decision as an 18-year-old deciding to try this. It’s not the same as an intelligent 30-year-old saying I think I’ll try this. It’s not the same at all.” (…) “I just want to make it as relatable as possible,” Mr. Okazaki said. “That’s all I hope for, so people talk about it, sort of take away that excuse that it will never happen to me, that they have some acknowledgement that it could happen to someone close to me.”» – Source.
«People don’t understand addiction, and addicts are treated as lower life forms by society. You see the stories about heroin in the news and it feels distant and abstract. The viewer feels safe, like it’ll never happen to them. I hate that. As Marissa in [documentary Heroin: Cape Cod] says, “I could be your daughter.” (…) Nearly everyone has opiates in their medicine cabinet: Vicodin, Percocet, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone. Doctors overprescribe them and people get addicted. Eighty percent of heroin addicts started with prescription drugs. The prescription pills cost a lot — sometimes $40 a pill — and heroin is a cheap, potent and accessible alternative. Heroin used to be confined to a few neighbourhoods in a few cities. Now it’s everywhere. You don’t have to go to a sketchy neighbourhood to get it. You can send a text and have it delivered. Twenty years ago, the addicts I followed were mostly hustling to maintain their habit so they wouldn’t be sick. The kids in Heroin: Cape Cod are looking to get high. Alcohol and marijuana isn’t doing it for them anymore; they move up to prescription opiates, then heroin. They go to detox, get clean for a few days, then use again. They’re not into William Burroughs; they don’t care about Kurt Cobain — they just want to get high and block out whatever pain they’re feeling. (…) Companies have been trying to commercialize opiates for more than a century. A scientist at Merck invented the product in the late 1800s and in the early 1900s, Bayer gave it the name “Heroin” and tried to give it away free to children! In various forms, opiates have been marketed to women for depression or “women’s ills.” They’ve finally succeeded. (…) Along with the huge upswing in the use and abuse of prescription painkillers, there’s also been a social/cultural change encouraged by the pharmaceutical companies and the medical profession, on how society views both physical and emotional pain. It’s something not to be endured, but erased. So when you have a surgical operation the anesthesiologist medicates you for the pain and also gives you amnesia so you’ll also be spared the memory of pain. The message is that the elimination of pain, like the elimination of hunger, is an attribute of civilized society. When I was a kid, you got Novocain, then aspirin and maybe an ice pack for a toothache. Now you can get an opiate. (…) Two of the young women in the film, Marissa and Arianna, died from overdoses during the time we were making the film, but not while we were filming. I don’t know if they were alone or with someone who was too fucked up to help them. They were both bright, caring and beautiful. People loved them, but the drug was stronger. (…) Their reasons for becoming addicts are deeply personal. You don’t know who’s going to survive, who’s going to get clean, who’s going to die. It’s scary. I don’t have high ideas about getting them to quit after the people who love them have failed. (…) I heard that there was a parents’ support group in Cape Cod which meets every Monday, except on holidays. (…) They’re tired of hiding their child’s addiction, of feeling lonely and ostracized. They need to share their stories, and they want to get the word out and try to help each other. That was really moving, how frank they were about what it’s like to be the parent of an addict, someone they love and can’t seem to help. Most of the addicts in the film are/were close to their parents. They talk to them regularly and, in some cases, the parents are enabling their habits. It’s dramatic, compelling, and important to see how they’re affected by their child’s addiction. (…) I spoke with Sheriff Cummings of Barnstable County (Mass.) and he talked about the need to develop school education programs similar to what was done with cigarette smoking. I think he’s right if the material is smart and doesn’t simplify the issue or demonize the users. It’s a good idea to reach kids very early. I also think it’s a mistake to totally de-criminalize drugs, but put them in long-term recovery programs instead of jail.» –
– Steven Okazaki, interview about “Heroin: Cape Cod, USA” (2015).
«I also hope that it provides insight into the devastating human toll that the pharmaceutical companies share a huge responsibility for. Knowingly or unknowingly they’ve been trying to commercialize opiates for more than a 100 years, and now they’ve succeeded and people are paying a terrible price.»
– Steve Okazaki, interview.
«[Marissa Blais:] “It doesn’t matter where I go, where I live, as soon as I do it that one time, there’s no one stopping me, and not many people seem to believe that. They think that “Oh, I can get high once”… NO, you can’t, let’s get real here, you can’t! As soon as you get that one rush, you’re going, you’re chasing, you want that, you want that for the rest of your life, you want that high forever and you will push everybody out the way to get it. You don’t care. For that one stupid high…” (…)
[Cassie:] “Pretty much any way to get money, if you are addicted and you’re sick, you’re gonna do it”. (…)
[Benjamin:] “I am obsessed over using it. I can’t shake the thought. I am just always thinking about it. Every day I think about getting high. I have drug dreams all the time.” (…)
[Arianna Sheedy:] “I want to want to be clean”. (…)
[Shannon:] “It comes natural: if I’m gonna use, consequences don’t exist. I shut down my brain”. (…)
[Jess:] “I get addicted to the food, I get addicted to TV shows, I get addicted to certain habits. It sounds insane, but it’s like OCD [Obsessive Compulsive Disorder]. It’s like almost everything in my life becomes an addictive behaviour”. (…)
[Danielle:] “I don’t to associate with anybody. (…) The people I love most I avoid. Anyone with my last name I hurt the most” (…)
[Daniel:] “Doing this same routine every single day (…). Tomorrow, I wake up and it’s the same thing. How they say, it’s the definition of insanity. (…) Doing the same thing over and over and not expecting different results, right? (…) I don’t expect anything to be different about it. It always gonna be the same repetitive bullshit every single day. (…) In your lowest low, there’s a trap-door below it and it goes lower, there is always more. There is always further you can go down.” (…)
[Ryan Beers:] “Everybody has something they do constantly. (…) People always think that is so easy: just man up and don’t do it! It’s not that easy. (…) I don’t want to use drugs, I don’t. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it.” (…)
[Jessica Haskins:] “I couldn’t look at myself. I couldn’t deal with myself. (…) But when I did drugs I didn’t have low self-esteem anymore, I felt beautiful, and I felt awesome, and I felt cool.”
[Benjamin:] “I know it’s life or death. (…) I’m not completely ready to be clean or sober. I miss the chaos. (…) My life [in the “sober house”] is so boring now. It’s just like go to work, come home, go to the meeting, come back, sit at my house, play video games, make dinner, go to bed. It’s just like boring.” (…)
[Ryan Beers:] “I think that’s why parents are scared that their kids are gonna die, and that they’re gonna lose their kids, if they kick them out. But if they kicked me out, I’d probably be doing a lot better than I am, to be honest. I’ve told them that. (…) Why do they have to make a drug that makes you feel good? Opiates don’t stop the pain. They make you feel good, so that the pain doesn’t hurt. It still hurts, but you’re happy that it hurts. I feel I’m still a kid. I know what I have to do, but I’m not mature enough to do it”. (…)
[Marissa Blais:] “There isn’t such thing as friendship. Those people aren’t there for you. Those people are your “running partners”. (…) You don’t have real friends. (…) They don’t care about you. When it comes the time of getting clean, everyone says: ‘Oh, you think you’re better than me now?'” (…)
“The friends that have successfully gone clean I can count on one hand. Most of them die. You really have to drop everything and everybody and start over brand-new in order to do it. That’s really really really hard, because you feel so alone and you’re all by yourself just trying to barely live.” (…)
“You isolate so much, that you’re alone even if you’re surrounded by people. I know I can do things to try to fix my life, but sometimes it seems hopeless and pointless. Nobody is gonna change unless they wanna change. (…)”
“I’ve gone into destroying myself and my self-esteem and loosing my self-respect in order to keep my habit, stay high. (…) I have to really do it this time. The shake gets harder every fuckin’ time. I’m in my 23 and I feel I’m like in my thirties. I feel aged. I’m fuckin’ tired. I’m tired of the life style. I’m tired of the game. I’m tired of fuckin’ calling dealers and tell them to come. I’m tired of everything. I’m tired of getting high. (…) It’s a lot of guilt. I’m ashamed. I think everybody sees my arms (…). Everyone knows. I’m a good girl. I don’t know why I do this to myself. You just become so lost. And I just don’t want to feel that pity, that’s why I get high. I know people say it’s just an excuse, but, fuck you, I don’t want to feel it.” (…)
[Nicole:] “Today is my ninety days [clean]. (…) Basically when I got to detox this time I knew what I wanted, I wanted to be clean, I wanted to get back to work, I wanted to get back to meetings and seeing my friends that genuinely cared about me, that aren’t gone get mad at me because I’m not giving them their drugs as soon as they want it. (…) I knew what to expect. It’s worth it. It is worth it every minute 100%. I have no complain. That alone speaks of how good is my life right now. If you talked to me like 2,5 or 3 years ago I would complain about anything in the world (…) Now, I don’t complain about anything. I’m literally grateful.”»
WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM?
Arianna Sheedy and Marissa Blais, both died 23 of overdose, short after being filmed for the documentary “Heroin: Cape Cod, USA” (2015).
Following the movie screening, to every kid in the film who wanted to, it has been offered a scholarship to a 90-day treatment program, which was paid for 100 per cent:
“The kids who were in the film who have been trying and struggling, and trying and struggling, who were given the opportunity to have a real inpatient treatment program and really do it right, are doing well.”
Nicole – She was the first to go to detox around December 2014 and she is still clean. She runs a sober home in Falmouth while working two jobs.
Shannon – She went to detox at the same time as Nicole and she is still clean.
Cassie – She went to detox and it is still clean.
Jessica Haskins – She entered into treatment in September 2015 and has been sober.
Daniel – He has been in treatment in Malibu, California, since right after the Boston screening. He’s been clean since December 2015. He looks like a different person.
Danielle – She has also gone out to the treatment center.
Ryan Beers: A near-death experience caused him to begin recovery. Within hours of leaving that hospital, he boarded a plane for a Florida drug treatment center. He is in long-term recovery.
Benjamin – In the movie, he kept on appearing and disappearing from sober houses, which is better than never go.