The community turned out a couple of weeks ago at the Dietrich Theatre in Tunkhannock for the screening of “Generation Found,” a film that gives its audience a candid, unapologetic look at the reality of overcoming drug addiction.
John Fabiseski, a chapter leader of Young People in Recovery, was the first to see the movie at a national leadership conference for the organization in Denver, Colo. Having seen the previous film from creators Greg Williams and Jeff Reilly, “Anonymous People,” Fabiseski was particularly interested in bringing the documentary to the area.
“I knew when I saw it that we needed to bring this back to our community,” he said.
The film was created in the face of the ongoing opioid epidemic sweeping the United States. Marketing itself as an alternative to past drug and alcohol prevention movements, Generation Found’s tagline claims, “’Just Say No was a slogan. This is a revolution.”
Following a wide cast of addicted and formerly-addicted individuals, the documentary placed emphasis on recovery-minded communities, schools, and peer groups. In particular, Archway Academy, a recovery-centered high school based in Houston, is shown as a new standard in long-term prevention of drug abuse in youth. Its success in keeping its students clean is attributed to its peer-to-peer encouragement and friendship-building atmosphere.
The showing of the film concluded with a panel of six local figures involved in organizations that help persons in recovery to adjust back to normal life.
All panelists were open to questions and comments on the state of addiction treatment in the local area.
“Every year in this country, we lose 52,000 lives to drug overdose,” said Michael Donahue, director of Wyoming County Human Services. “It’s an epidemic, and we need to stop talking about it in any other measure.”
The panel answered questions ranging from logistical inquiries about insurance and placement for addicted youths, as well as more general topics such as the cause of the epidemic in our area. Misuse of prescription pain medication was a major focus of warning and explanation for concerned and affected parents.
“It’s not that they do one form of drug then switch to another. [Some] pain pills can have nearly identical [effects] as heroin,” said Keith Kinsman, president of Endless Mountains Addiction Awareness Committee. “We hear these stories on a regular basis. The pain pills start this.”
Attention was also paid to parents and family members of addicts, with some of the panelists and organizers having lost children to drug addiction themselves.
“You cannot live with addiction in your home without getting sick yourself,” said Sandy Vieczorek, who started Wyoming County C.A.R.E.S. after losing her son.
All six representatives also agreed on the importance of networking between resource centers and charitable organizations. Traci Decker, clinical director at TREHAB, and Ryan Taylor, regional coordinator of Smart Recovery, also weighed in on questions, and stressed the ongoing cooperation between similar recovery organizations.
Cammie Anderson, a prevention education specialist at Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services, attested to the quality of teachers in Tunkhannock Area High school.
In reference to a quote from Generation Found, stating that at-risk youths need teachers that will sit with and comfort an upset or distressed student, Anderson assured, “We have those teachers at Tunkhannock – a lot of them.”
Bobby Hunt opened the evening with a reading of two poems about his own experience as a recovering youth, delivering a hopeful and defiant note on the epidemic. Hunt belongs to the Breaking Ground Poets, a poetry collective based out of Tunkhannock that is currently raising money to return to the Brave New Voices poetry competition. Last year ut was in Washington, D.C. This summer, it’s in San Francisco.
Before and after the film and a Q&A session, literature and promotional material of the various involved organizations filled the lobby. All tickets were free of charge, and the Dietrich theatre provided free refreshments as a token of appreciation to attendees.
On display was a large white sheet with the names of more than 100 victims of drug overdose in Wyoming County. The sheet was created at a courthouse rally in August by Young People in Recovery, and will remain at the Dietrich for the foreseeable future as a memorial to those affected by the opioid epidemic.
“Somebody should do something about this,” Fabiseski said as the night closed, “And all of you are somebody, so let’s do something.”