In an effort to combat the growing epidemic of prescription drug and heroin abuse, leaders of the FBI and DEA released a documentary film aimed at educating students and young adults about the dangers of addiction. “Chasing the Dragon” profiles the cycle of addiction and tragic consequences associated with opioid abuse, sharing personal stories of former opiate abusers and their family members. Interviews with medical, substance use treatment, and law enforcement professionals review the effects of addiction and how the current epidemic is unlike any in our country’s history.
Deborah S. Taylor, Senior Vice President and Executive Director of Phoenix House Mid-Atlantic, makes an appearance in this valuable educational tool by providing insight into the effects of substance use disorders. She stresses that anyone can be affected, no matter their background or life circumstances. “You can be the smartest person in the world – the minute that chemical hits your bloodstream, you lose control of what it does in your body,” Taylor remarked. This fact is echoed in the film as it follows seven individuals from diverse backgrounds who share similar experiences with the darkness of addiction.
The vision for the film began with two special agents with the FBI who wanted to create a vehicle that provided “a deeper understanding and knowledge of the road that opiate addiction leads them down,” explained Special Agent Baker Doughty. “We need to have a different strategy. We can attack the supply of the opiates, but the problem is the demand for the drug isn’t reduced at all.” Special Agent Shane Dana and lead visionary for the film further explained that, “Traditional law enforcement strategy targets supply. It goes after the illegal supply of oxycodone, the illegal supply of heroin.”
The hope is to increase awareness and education to prevent those considering experimenting with an opiate or any other drug from taking that next step. “When someone experiments with an opiate, there is no experimenting with it, it’s addiction,” continued Dana.
FBI Director James Comey opened the film release highlighting why the efforts behind the film were so important. “I’m not sure why terrible tragedies visit in the lives of good people, but I think I know this; the obligation of those of us left behind is to try to make some good come from that unspeakable loss,” Comey shared. The FBI and DEA offer the film to educators at no cost to incorporate it into their curriculum. In an effort to stimulate discussion in the schools, the film includes a corresponding study guide meant to assist teachers presenting the film in the classroom. Those wishing to obtain a copy of the film may contact their local FBI or DEA field office or download the film for free.