The film begins with the rising of a garage door. On the other side is a young man in a flannel shirt standing before his barn at first light. He’s wearing an old Red Sox hat with a frayed brim. The sun appears gold through New England foliage behind him and gleans off industrial farm equipment in the field. He steps forward into the barn, rain boots over mud, brown Labrador retriever at his side, as he inspects a line of cows with a paper coffee cup held absently in his hand. This downhome Vermont backdrop comes so effortlessly that it should be the envy of any truck commercial or grassroots political ad. Yet there’s something hurting the small town of St. Albans, and it’s the same thing that ruins lives of average Americans across the country: addiction.
It’s commonplace, but hardly talked about.
The Hungry Heart takes a raw look at the addiction problems youth and families struggle with in New England.
Vermont, like New Hampshire, has dealt with a major epidemic of prescription drug addiction. Local pharmacists are seeing increased demand and the local police are seeing an increase in drug related crimes. The Hungry Heart is the story of one town and one doctor’s mission to treat his patients who struggle with the complicated illness of drug addiction.
The Hungry Heart provides its intimate look at the world of addiction through Vermont pediatrician Fred Holmes. Holmes prescribes Suboxen to his patients. Much like methadone, Suboxen helps many people with addiction in their recovery process (but can also be abused and perted onto the street). One woman in the film compared Suboxen to the phenomenon of a cast on a broken leg—the drug provides stability until the patient can operate independently without it. But Suboxen isn’t always a standalone treatment.
“The bigger piece of the puzzle is the housing, food, education, transportation, mental health counseling and addiction counseling,” Holmes said.
Roads to recovery are paved with relapse, success, downfalls and tragic losses all shared through honest interviews in the film. A variety of faces throughout the movie represent the perse populations of addiction and the brutal nature of a condition that has no prejudice for race, income or social standing. In his conversations with patients, Holmes finds himself confronted by the same behavioral health frontier that many professionals face across the United States today.
The film will be shown for free April 9 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Concord High School Auditorium, located at 170 Warren St.
A panel discussion will follow the film, which is being presented by the Concord Hospital Center for Health Promotion and the Concord Hospital Trust. For more information, call Johane Telgener at Concord Hospital Center for Health Promotion at 230-7313.