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‘Chasing the dragon’ offers insights into opiod epidemic

If anyone can talk credibly about the war on opioid abuse, it’s Lauren, a 20-year-old recovering addict from the Town of Tonawanda.

She knows what led her down the path to addiction and what it took to bring her back.

She went public with her story of abuse and recovery on Friday as part of a larger effort to promote “Chasing the Dragon,” a new government documentary on the dangers of opioid addiction.

For Lauren, it was a movie filled with disturbing reminders.

“Those memories are still there,” she said at a morning news conference at Kids Escaping Drugs in West Seneca.

Produced by the FBI and DEA, the 45-minute documentary features the first-person accounts of addicts and what their drug use did to their lives, families and careers.

The movie follows seven men and women, at least five of whom relapsed after it was finished, and provides a sometime raw and candid look at the human impact of opioid abuse.

The hope is that parents, teachers and community leaders will use the movie to help educate high school students and other young people on the risks of prescription pill use.

“It’s unfiltered and it’s blunt,” said Adam S. Cohen, special agent in charge of the FBI office in Buffalo. “We’re hopeful that if people see addiction as it really is, it will have a greater impact.”

Cohen said he was especially moved by the movie’s portrayal of Julia, a high school honor student who fell into prescription drugs and soon found herself obsessed with her drug use.

She talks in the movie about how easy it was to find the pills she took, how quickly she became addicted and how difficult and ugly it was for her to go through withdrawal.

Anti-drug activists said the movie, available on You Tube and the FBI website, provides a disturbing yet realistic view of prescription pill addictions and the wide diversity of its victims.

“This addiction, this epidemic has no bias,” said Pat Greco, board president at Kids Escaping Drugs.

The movie attempts to dispel some of the myths about opioid addiction and ends with a sober reminder of how often addicts seek treatment but in the end relapse.

Lauren knows that scenario all too well but is proof that addicts who truly want to turn their life around can do so with the support of friends and family.

“It helped me get my family back,” she said Friday. “It helped me get back things that I had lost.”


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