Behind the Doc

Behind the Doc Blog: Finding a Fix

Posted August 22, 2019 8:00 a.m. EDT
Updated August 22, 2019 9:07 a.m. EDT

In 2017, some folks in our News Department told me the law enforcement and EMS agencies they encounter during their work were seeing a dramatic increase in the number of opioid overdoses.

At the time, I was working on a documentary about economic inequality and interviewed Wake's county manager who told me the same thing. In discussing it with management, we decided that we needed to do a documentary on the increasing rate of opioid addiction, so we produced the documentary, “Searching for a Fix” that same year. Since its television premier the documentary has garnered thousands of views on-line and advocacy groups have held three public screenings of the documentary at various places around the state.

We did gut-wrenching interviews with people who lost family members to opioid overdose. We were with first responders using Narcan to reverse an overdose. We talked with law enforcement officers, advocacy groups, people in recovery, people who run treatment centers and policymakers charged with finding solutions to the problem.

Among the latter was North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, who has been a champion in the fight against the opioid addiction problem. Stein outlined new legislation that passed that year, including the STOP Act, which primarily put controls on the dispensing of prescription opioids, and the Synthetic Opioid Control Act, which outlawed synthetic opioids like fentanyl. That same year the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services drafted an Opioid Action Plan, a comprehensive effort focusing on prevention, hard reduction and treatment.

This year, Capitol Broadcasting Company partnered with the NC Department of Justice in a renewed effort to raise public awareness about the opioid epidemic. Part of that effort is the production of a new version of our documentary “Searching for a Fix” called “Finding a Fix”.

This new, half-hour documentary re-tells some of the personal stories from the original documentary, and it also updates viewers on the progress the state has made in the fight against opioid abuse.

As “Finding a Fix” reveals, a lot of progress has been made in the last two years, but there is still more work to do. The title “Finding a Fix” is designed to convey that sense of progress and hope.

At a time when so many people are expressing frustration at their federal government’s lack of action on critical issues like gun violence and climate change, it’s refreshing to see our own state government taking the lead in battling the opioid addiction epidemic, launching bold initiatives and passing common sense legislation that is actually making a difference.

About this Blog:

Documentary producer and writer Clay Johnson provides some behind-the-scenes insight into the production of WRAL documentaries.