Jul 28, 2015 4:17 PM

NH filmmaker documents heroin epidemic in the Granite State


CONCORD - Filmmaker Michael Venn’s documentary titled, “Community is Greater than Heroin” has been in production for six months.

During that time, he’s had a chance to interview former heroin addicts in the Granite State who tell their harrowing, but ultimately successful, stories of recovery.

“I think Hollywood sold us this image of the heroin addict which just isn’t true. It’s the person next door to you, and you don’t even know they are addicted,” said Venn.

He decided to film the documentary after reading daily headlines about the heroin epidemic in New Hampshire.

One day while talking with a friend, he was shocked to learn his friend had nearly died of a heroin overdose.

Venn describes the young man as an incredible athlete who looked like he “just stepped off the cover of GQ Magazine.”

After interviewing New Hampshire politicians, public health officials, and law enforcement officials, Venn has come to his own conclusion - that one of the reasons the Granite State is riddled with heroin abusers is because it’s so cheap to buy on the streets and so easy to get.

“The heroin is coming from New York and on it’s way to Canada,” said Venn, referring to the illegal supply chain that snakes its way up Interstate 95.

Part of the state’s problem in treating heroin addiction is the fact that there aren’t enough rehab facilities.

One such recovery facility called “Serenity Place” in Manchester is in danger of closing because it doesn’t have enough space.

Efforts to move to two other locations in the city have failed because neighbors didn’t want rehab centers nearby.

“This is a community crisis now, and if people could embrace it and think if this was your child, wouldn’t you want treatment?” said Stephanie Bergeron, who works as a development director at Serenity Place.

Persistent false stereotypes surrounding heroin abuse and addiction is also part of what inspired Venn to document the heroin epidemic in New Hampshire.

He’s hoping to help change perceptions with his documentary, which he wants to get distributed to schools across the state.

He thinks junior high school isn’t too young to learn about the perils of heroin abuse.

When talking about his film, Venn is quick to downplay miracles.

“We do one screening and it only saves one life, then cool,” said Venn.


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