UMass to screen documentary about opioid abuse epidemic Monday

By Aviva Luttrell

(Kingdom County Productions)
(Kingdom County Productions)

The University of Massachusetts will host a screening of “The Hungry Heart,” a new documentary about the epidemic of opioid abuse, Monday, April 13 at 7 p.m. in the Campus Center Auditorium. A panel discussion with the film’s director and community members will follow.

The documentary, directed by Bess O’Brien, addresses prescription drug abuse, addiction and recovery through the eyes of pediatrician Fred Holmes in a small town in Southern Vermont.

According to the film’s website, Holmes uses suboxone to help treat his patients who are struggling with addiction. For some, it’s a “crucial stepping stone” to long-term recovery, but others use it as a crutch or abuse it and sell it on the street. Throughout the film, Holmes must grapple with these challenges.

“Most importantly however, as the film progresses we begin to see the simple but profound connection that Holmes creates with each patient,” the website states. “The film shines a light on the healing power of conversation and the need for connection that many of these young addicts yearn for but do not have in their lives.”

There were more than 65 suspected overdoses in Hampshire and Franklin counties over the past two years – one of the highest fatality rates in the state, according to the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office.

The event is sponsored by UMass’ Center for Health Promotion and the School of Public Health and Health Sciences, the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office and the Northwestern Rx Drug Abuse Task Force.

“The Hungry Heart” was recently awarded the 2015 Media Award by the American Society of Addiction, which praised the film for its “unflinching perspective” on the epidemic of opioid addiction.
The screening is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be served.

Aviva Luttrell can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @AvivaLuttrell.