Drug Films and Books
How do you talk to kids about substance abuse?
That’s a question many parents have been asking for years, because the truth is, explaining to children the basic concept of drug and alcohol abuse can be quite difficult. You need to be careful with your choice of words to help them understand why abusing drugs, alcohol, and tobacco is dangerous. Sometimes you wish you could just tell them to read available information on the Internet so they’d get an idea, but even that may not work if the materials don’t interest them or are harder to comprehend.
So we searched for some kids-friendly books on substance abuse and here’s what we found:
Daddy Doesn’t Have to Be a Giant Anymore
Children see their dads as their protectors but even them need help sometimes. In this book, a little girl sees how his father falls victim to alcohol. The addiction gets worse that it results to tarnished relationships within the household. One day, the girl’s dad agrees to seek treatment which helps restore the family. Pages are presented with pen-and-ink, watercolor, and pastel drawings that emphatically displays the emotional impact of the situation.
An Elephant In the Living Room The Children’s Book
This book is ideal for 9 years old and up. The illustrated story is designed to help understand and cope with the problem of alcoholism or other drug addiction in the family. It also helps a parent to open the lines of communication on topics that are usually challenging to discuss among kids.
Emmy is a typical kid who only wants to have a happy family, except her mother is struggling with alcohol problem. The book shows the humiliation and pain a little girl has to endure just because her mom makes a bad choice. Her compelling journey to find the answer is one that will empower any youngster struggling under the shadow of a parent’s addiction.
My Big Sister Takes Drugs
This 32-page paperback captures the dilemma of a family when one of its members becomes addicted to drugs. It delivers a realistic portrayal of how a boy’s life has been impacted when his older sister started using drugs and eventually ending up in rehab. Watercolored images were complemented by easy-to-understand text to keep a young reader’s interest.
Understanding substance abuse isn’t only for drug addicts. In fact, it would be of everyone’s interest if we all have at least a basic knowledge about the disease in order to prevent addiction, help and support people with drug and alcohol abuse problems, and be non-judgemental.
Whether you know someone struggling with addiction issues or simply want to know more about substance abuse, here are some books worth spending your time with:
Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy (David Sheff)
This recently release 400-page hardcover offers clear, compelling guidance for parents and others who want to prevent drug problems. Similarly, it provides evidence-based approaches for addicts and their loved ones to effectively deal with addiction. Sheff expertly shows readers that there’s something we can do to address the epidemic that has been crushing the lives of millions of people. Facts presented on the book is based on the latest research in psychology, neuroscience, and medicine.
A Parent’s Guide to Substance Abuse and Addiction (Kellena Page)
This 131-page Kindle edition educates parents on the most widely abused substances there is, how they are used, how addiction occurs, and the resulting physical, psychological, and legal consequences. Its primary mission is to inform and open a pathway of communication, trust, and respect between parents and their teens about drug and alcohol abuse. The more you know about the consequences of substance abuse, the stronger you’ll strive hard to fight it.
Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction (David Sheff)
In this book, David Sheff chronicles his son’s downward spiral into addiction and the impact on him and his family. The author tells Nic Sheff’s story from the perspective of a father and the heartbreaking drama the family has to go through in watching a loved one struggling with addiction and recovery. As the parent of an addict, David cycles through denial, acceptance and resistance — pretty much what any parent would have felt when one of his/her children becomes a victim of substance abuse.
An independent filmmaker from Wisconsin partnered with several community organizations to educate kids about the risks of prescription drug abuse.
Ron Haese, a well known producer and director of feature films and documentaries, is on the verge of finishing Ten Forty Eight — a film that underscores the serious consequences of prescription drug abuse among teens. The project is in partnership with Town of Menasha and city of Menasha police departments, Theda Clark Medical Center, Gold Cross Ambulance, Westgor Funeral Home and Sterling Gardens Florist.
Ten Forty Eight tells the story of a group of high school students who get prescription drugs through a variety of means and gather in a basement to take them. It stars students from Neenah, Kimberly and Kiel high schools to help teenage viewers connect with the story. In one of the scenes, two teenagers were rushed to a hospital after overdosing from prescription medications. One of the students is resuscitated while the other did not survive from the incident. Other characters in the film are arrested and put to jail.
“This is a problem that’s coming up often in kids’ lives,” Haese told PostCrescent. “I’m not sure they understand the consequences of taking these drugs. I hope this film can help them understand.”
Filming of Ten Forty Eight wraps up this month. Haese is hoping to have the movie ready for viewing next school year.
Haese is a veteran in producing and directing films that help raise awareness about issues like alcohol drinking and drug abuse. He has entered 15 of his films into national film festival competitions which earned him over a dozen national awards, with four awards for his writing.
Over the years, many Hollywood films have made futile attempts to capture the dark, harrowing side of substance abuse. While others remain forgettable, there are a few that really stood out — not because they had the best cast in the film but because they managed to take the viewers to the reality of addiction.
Here are some of the most realistic movies that tackle the most prominent issue in the society.
The film explores the illegal drug trade from a number of perspectives: a user, an enforcer, a politician and a trafficker. It is divided among three storylines — all of which capturing the intensely dangerous world of drugs. Cinema Crazed calls it “very realistic” while Rolling Stone describes the film as a “real cannonball, a hardass drama about the drug trade.”
Drugstore Cowboy (1989)
The film follows the journey of a group of heroin addicts who travel across the Pacific Northwest robbing pharmacies and hospitals to support their habit. It shows some graphic scenes of the characters wasting their lives with drugs and being rocked by waves of euphoria. When one of the young addicts died of drug overdose, Bob (played by Matt Dillon) decides to leave his life of crime only to discover there is more to extricating himself from the drug user’s lifestyle than just giving up drugs.
The Boost (1988)
This film depicts how addiction could ruin a happy marriage and turn a life of difficulty in deeper misery. When a friend introduced Lenny Brown (James Woods) to cocaine, it wasn’t only him that got hooked, but also his wife. The couple eventually lost their home, car, jobs, and their unborn baby. As the cocaine addiction gets the best of Lenny, he ends up severely beating his wife which ended her in a hospital.
Leaving Las Vegas by Mike Figgis, 1995
Nicolas Cage won an Academy Award after playing the lead role of screenwriter Ben Anderson who starts drinking after his wife and son left him. He moves to Las Vegas and decides to drink himself to death. He meets a prostitute played by Elisabeth Shue, moves in with her, and they both faced their problems in life.
Trainspotting by Danny Boyle, 1996
The film became controversial in countries such as the UK, Australia, and the United States as the debate on whether it promotes drug use or not ensued. The film focused on the lives of the members of a young Scottish group who used heroin as a means to escape from the harsh realities of their existence. Yet, in the end, they all discovered that drugs are not a solution to all the pain and loneliness in life.
Gridlock’d by Vondie Curtis-Hall, 1997
A film featuring the late Tupac Shakur together with Tim Roth; two addicts who decide to kick the habit after their close friend died on an overdose on her first use. They evade the law enforcement and other local criminals who are preventing them from getting the help they need from rehab facilities.
From the old movies on substance abuse in the early decades, we now share some of the best movies dealing with substance abuse in the 1980s.
Altered States by Ken Russell, 1980
Featuring William Hurt in his debut film as Edward Jessup, the movie Altered States is about a professor (Hurt) who gets entangled on his experiments in his continuous study about schizophrenia. He comes up with the ideas about “the other states of consciousness” which he tries to prove by getting into a flotation tank and injecting himself with his “mushroom cocktail” from Mexico. The film is based on John C. Lilly’s isolation tank studies under the influence of psychoactives like Ketamine and LSD.
The Boost by Harold Becker, 1988
Starring James Woods, the movie depicts the realistic downfall of a recreational drug user who eventually becomes a cocaine addict and loses his entire life. He brings his wife down with him, and lost his job and their home, not to mention the loss of their unborn child. It could be the first film to show crack smoking on the big screen.
Drugstore Cowboy by Gus Van Sant, 1989
Matt Dillon plays the role of Bob Hughes who belongs to a family of addicts. They travel across the US Pacific Northwest to rob pharmacies and hospitals in the 1970’s. Bob meets a defrocked priest and lectures him all about temptation, which made Bob decide to let go of his addiction and face the challenges of starting over with his life.