The opioid epidemic is a problem. It’s a problem in Utah, and it’s a problem in Park City. The state of Utah ranks fourth nationally for the number of opioid and heroin related deaths, and this rate has increased in all states over the past decade. However, the opioid epidemic now hits closer to home than ever before, following the tragic deaths of two Treasure Mountain students this past fall.
In a community like Park City, drugs can be a tough issue to talk about, and as a result the drug education in schools is lacking. The current curriculum in health classes throughout the district focuses on side effects and consequences of various drugs, as opposed to resources and comprehensive plans to get help if needed. It is an unfortunate one-sided way to teach drug education, and one that doesn’t consider how prominent of an issue addiction is.
That’s not to say the district isn’t trying to help. This past December, Park City High School held a screening of the film Chasing the Dragon, aimed to educate youth about the dangers of addiction. However, the documentary did not have the desired effect amongst the student body. With its focus on law enforcement and anti-marijuana message, the film alienated a large demographic of students and furthered the divide between kids and well-meaning adults.
Nonetheless, the opioid epidemic is an issue Park City students want – and need – to talk about. A committee of PCHS students has been working with Jenny Mackenzie, director of the film Dying in Vein, to promote awareness of addiction. As opposed to Chasing the Dragon, Dying in Vein focuses on mental health and treatment options. The documentary follows young adults who have recovered from addiction, those who are struggling through the recovery process, and those who have lost loved ones to opioid addiction. The main message of the film is this: Addiction is not a moral failing. It is a disease.
Park City High School will be hosting an opt-in screening of Dying in Vein on Tuesday, May 23. There will be a community screening of the film on Thursday, May 25 at 6 pm at the Park City Library. The documentary will be followed by a panel consisting of recovered addicts, family members who have lost loved ones to addiction, doctors, and those who work with treatment programs. Through screening this film, students hope to open up discussion about this tough issue in the community.
For more information visit dyinginveinmovie.org.