Prescription for Addiction (2005) (Commission)

Prescription for Addiction is a compelling documentary about the benefits and the health and social risks of prescription opiate use. The documentary's goal is to promote the healthy use of opiates and enhance community awareness of the issues surrounding opiate misuse and dependency.

Opiate painkillers such as OxyContin, Percocet, Dilaudid, MS Contin, Vicodin and Tylenol 3 are now among the mostly widely prescribed drugs in North America with annual sales in the billions of dollars. But these drugs are also highly addictive and their misuse has escalated to crisis levels. Prescription for Addiction offers a fair and honest view of the challenges facing patients, doctors, health care service providers, social workers, law enforcement agencies, and communities who are struggling with the current opiate abuse epidemic. The film asks: what happens when powerful addictive medications are made widely available to the general public and used for purposes other than what they were intended? How can we balance the needs of people in pain, with the need to protect patients from the risks of addiction? And how should we respond to individuals, families, and communities for whom the use of opiate drugs has gone horribly wrong?

Opiate misuse is a health and social crisis in Ontario that crosses all social and economic levels. Whether it begins with efforts to treat pain or with the use of illegally purchased prescription drugs, the impact is devastating on individuals, families and communities. Individuals who misuse opiates are at extreme risk for developing dependency. The speed at which a person can escalate from misuse to physical and psychological dependency is rapid and the prevalence of opiate dependency has reached epidemic proportions, particularly among aboriginal populations living in rural and remote communities throughout Ontario.

Prescription for Addiction is a powerful educational resource, which can be used to reduce harm associated with opiate misuse and promote prevention, early identification and/or early intervention and enhanced community awareness of the issues.

The documentary is intended to assist healthcare, educational and social service providers to respond more effectively to high risk and special needs populations including aboriginal people, youth and older adults.

Through its examination of the health and social costs of the current opiate abuse epidemic, the documentary asks audiences to reflect upon our growing eagerness to use pain medications to mask social pain and collective trauma. In a subject where there are no easy answers, we hope to raise questions that will stimulate community responses, and provide helpful information to audiences who need to make informed decisions about opiate drug use. We believe the most effective way for these messages to come across is through the first-hand stories and testimonies of real people who have struggled with opiate use, dependency, and addiction - as well as family members, health care and social service providers, and others who are on the front lines of the issues.

Prescription for Addiction was funded by the Ontario Federation of Mental Health and Addiction Programs in partnership with St. Joseph's Care Group.

Commissioning Sponsor: Ontario Federation of Mental Health and Addiction Programs in partnership with St. Joseph's Care Group.