Coming to HBO tonight, Monday, December 28: HEROIN: CAPE COD, USA
Steven Okazaki’s candid profile of opiate addiction in a small community makes its debut on the cable network after preview community screenings in Boston and on the Cape.
A response to the alarming growth of cases of heroin overdose, addiction, and drug-related crimes in a community typically known as an idyllic summer vacation destination, Okazaki’s film takes an intimate look at several locals whose lives have been upended by the drug. Though the director dispenses some disturbing statistics and facts – such as the overprescription rates of opiate-based painkillers like oxycontin and their role as gateway drugs to cheaper, more easily available heroin – the strength of the film is in its frank profiling of users. These young people – reflecting the community, they are nearly all white, some seemingly fairly well-off, with supportive families – cycle through various rehab centers or sober houses on and off the Cape, struggle with recovery, and eventually relapse. Willing to appear on camera at their worst, they express frustration and pessimism as they speak openly about their inability to kick their addiction and the depths they’ve sunk to in order to support it. Occasionally during interviews, without warning, titles appear revealing updates to their stories: relapses, disappearances, and, in a few cases, deaths by overdose. While these shouldn’t be a surprise, they still pack a gutpunch, reflecting the empathy Okazaki is able to build over a relatively brief running time.