‘Heroin(e)’ screening highlights the good of a community battling drug abuse

Danite Belay, Reporter

Marshall University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications offered Thursday a free public screening of the Netflix documentary “Heroin(e)” at the Pullman Square Marquee Cinemas theater. The film follows three women, Huntington Fire Chief Jan Rader, Cabell County Judge Patricia Keller and Necia Freeman of Brown Bag Ministry, in their quest to tackle Huntington’s opioid epidemic and shine new light on a local issue that has gained national attention.

Although the epidemic is still very prominent in the area and in the nation, “Heroin(e)” gives insight into the constant battle addicts and those tackling the battle with drug abuse are facing. Rader said highlighting the work being done to improve this issue is much more effective than only showing the negative aspects.

“Filming here and a lot of the PR has been very negative, and there are so many positive things going on here, and that needs to be highlighted,” Rader said. “I think that (the film’s creators) highlighted that in this documentary.”

After the screening, the audience had the chance to ask the three women and the film’s director and producer, Elaine Sheldon, questions about their experience helping others.

“They know that we’re here to love them, but they also know that we want what’s the best for them,” Freeman said.

Some members of the audience even shared their own experiences with drug addiction in the Huntington community. Kelly Horne, a former heroin addict, said Rader brought him back to life after overdosing almost eight years ago.

“I’ve been clean for eight years now, after using for 35 years,” Horne said. “It brought me to tears because it’s real. It’s real stuff you see every day here. People dying. I’ve lost a lot of friends.”

Journalism professor and event organizer Tijah Bumgarner said the the film “isn’t just the one story that the mass media is giving us but it is particular to our town and to our community, and to the people that are helping.”

Rader, Keller and Freeman said they always emphasize there are many ways the public can help with this ongoing issue of drug abuse in the area.

“I think it’s really important to let people know that any of us can make a difference, especially when we work together,” Keller said. “We’ve made a good team, we have a lot of other people that work with us on our team, and we all can make a difference. Just a little bit makes a big difference.”

Danite Belay can be contacted at [email protected]