It wasn’t until Lisa Hall moved back to Brown County, Indiana that she realized the impact drug addiction was having on the community where she was born and raised. Her response and attempt to stop the alarming trend of substance use was the 2021 film “The Addict’s Wake,” an award-winning documentary that explores the impact of addiction in rural communities like her hometown of Anderson. In 2020, “pandemic drug use” led to a record number of drug overdoses in Brown County, damaging a community important to the tourist industry in Indiana. Due to the draw of its beautiful greenery, Brown County brings in more than $42 million in annual tourism money.
Humanizing Addiction Stories
When Hall gave up the big-city life in Indianapolis to move back to Brown County, a community with just over 15,000 residents, she heard stories of people whose lives had spiraled out of control because of highly addictive drugs like heroin and methamphetamine.
“The drug user is not who you think it once was,” Hall said. “This could be your neighbor or a co-worker. This has no boundaries anymore, and it does not discriminate.”
She decided that making a documentary was the best way to spread these humanizing stories and also share a message of hope to people that recovery is possible.
“I wanted real-life stories to be told,” Hall said. “I felt like if people were transparent in the interviewing process that it would be really powerful. People were very transparent, and they did not hold back any emotions at all.”
She started the production company Glory Girl Productions, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and partnered with veteran filmmakers from her alma mater Indiana University to create the 105-minute film. Hall and her team captured more than 100 hours of interviews with local families impacted by the deadly epidemic, which is currently fueled by drug batches laced with fentanyl. “The Addict’s Wake” premiered in 2021 at the Heartland International Film Festival and won the Indiana Spotlight Award. There are more screenings planned around Indiana, but Hall’s goal is for the film to reach beyond the state to people who may be empowered to get help after hearing the stories told in Brown County.
“There’s gloom and doom – I’m not going to sugarcoat that – but we also show that recovery is possible and we show the hopefulness in recovery,” she said. “I think people have really appreciated that.”
Indiana Initiatives for Rural Communities
As the opioid crisis continues to spread, lawmakers, addiction experts and advocates in America are scrambling for solutions to reverse a trend that resulted in more than 108,000 drug overdose deaths in 2021. Although the number of drug overdoses is higher in urban areas with larger populations, death rates are 50% higher in rural communities like Brown County. Resources like healthcare and education materials are crucial to preventing addiction. However, access to addiction treatment centers, for example, has limited availability in rural communities compared to urban areas and leaves residents exposed to the risks of substance abuse.
Hall said “The Addict’s Wake” is not only a film but a call to action that addiction requires a collaborative effort from communities around the country.
“It’s going to take a grassroots community effort to change the tide of this epidemic,” Hall said. “The government can’t solve this. They can help them fill in the gaps, possibly with funding, but they’re not going to solve it.”
One of the solutions Hall wants to be implemented in Brown County is a drug court, a program designed to help participants get addiction treatment and avoid jail time. Hall hopes that drug courts, like the documentary, will help reduce the shame and stigma of addiction so that people can get the help they need. Research shows that drug courts are known to reduce substance use and criminal activity.
Future Showings in Indiana
Check the following list of dates and locations for future showings of “The Addict’s Wake,” which are free of charge:
- Sept. 20 (Evansville, IN)
- Sept. 22 (Valparaiso, IN)
- Oct. 4 (Richmond, IN)
Visit the film’s website for more information.
Reversing Addiction Trends With Treatment
If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction, call Landmark Recovery at 888-448-0302 to connect with a recovery specialist. Our admissions team will answer questions and help you move one step closer to overcoming addiction. We have treatment centers in the following Indiana communities: