Sheldon’s ‘Recovery Boys’ works to start a conversation about drug recovery

Thursday, a screening of “Recovery Boys” was shown at Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center, followed by a question and answer session with filmmaker Elaine McMillion Sheldon and subjects Dr. Kevin Blankenship and Joey Ferguson.

“These stories can be other people’s medicine,” Sheldon said. “And ‘Recovery Boys’ show the humanity of someone, not them as an issue, and you can’t help but care.”

The film follows four men going through recovery at Jacob’s Ladder in West Virginia.

“‘Recovery Boys’ is opening up conversation about recovery and addiction, and destigmatizes what everyone thinks addiction is about,” Blankenship, founder of Jacob’s Ladder, said.  “You see the love of West Virginia come out in the cinematography even in the most heartbreaking scenes. And this projects the state in a positive light of what some may consider a negative subject.”

“Recovery Boys” has helped to spread awareness about the organization.

“I get twenty to thirty emails a day from people around the world from Turkey, Ireland, South Africa and Scotland asking to help or for help,” Blankenship said.

Marshall student and online-media major, Mark Williams attended the screening and said he thought the film was exquisitely done.

“The first step in having a problem is admitting you have a problem,” Williams said. “And Huntington can’t sweep this problem under the rug, the problem must be attacked and not with arrests. There are other options, and we just saw one right there.”

Outreach manager at Jacob’s Ladder, Joey Ferguson, said, “The positive word gets spread by holding Q and A’s like today’s and people taking the information they learned here into their homes and sharing it. The word addict has such a negative stigma, and the past year people have begun rallying behind people with substitutes disorder.”

“Recovery Boys” was created alongside the “Heroine” documentary by Sheldon to show how drugs impact people’s lives in West Virginia, and “Recovery Boys” exposed the reality of rehabilitation.

“The goal is to start conversations and ultimately bring people together as a community and talk about solutions,” Sheldon said. “West Virginia can grow only if the community works together. It’s not a PR campaign, promoting one agenda but it’s the raw truth. And an experience they are able to witness of seeing someone’s life unfold.”

Jacob’s Ladder offers a working farm, art therapy, music therapy from Brandhi Irvin Gafency, yoga classes from Jerrica Blankenship, cooking classes and fundamentals to help the men obtain a job once finishing the program.

“We are disconnected and I think that’s what has led to a lot of our addictive problems we have today, we don’t sit around and talk and process each others emotions,” Blankenship said. “And this documentary is a form of storytelling, and allows us to feel connected.”

Lillie Bodie can be contacted at [email protected].