First Run Features presents

Healing from the Ground Up

Now Streaming on Apple TV, iTunes & Vimeo On Demand

Featuring Renowned Addiction Expert Dr. Gabor Maté

Interviews Available with Director Tory Estern Jadow,
Producer Hope Payson & Executive Producer Edie Dao Schechter

An urgent look at the national drug addiction crisis that is ravaging local communities, Uprooting Addiction follows six people, each affected by childhood trauma, who share their personal stories of addiction and recovery.

They come together at an innovative retreat in Northwest Connecticut organized by addiction and trauma counselor Hope Payson. Through the metaphor of a tree bearing a network of roots, Payson helps each of them recognize the foundation of their trauma, including abandonment, learning differences, sexual molestation and violence, and how that trauma manifests and permeates through life – an understanding that opens the door to fundamental healing.

Interweaving these stories with uplifting, up-to-the-minute accounts of collective action from activists, officials, and experts including Dr. Gabor Maté, Uprooting Addiction is a mosaic-like portrait of a single community coming together to take on one of the most critical challenges of our time.

Rob is a successful businessman who became addicted to opiates after back surgery. Ryan grew up in chaos, with a mother who struggled with her own addiction and an absent father. Kaytlin lost her brother who suffered from mental illness to an overdose – before falling victim to heroin addiction herself. Daryl, a man who was incarcerated for a decade, following a long history of drug addiction, missed his daughter’s childhood when in prison. Chuck is a former high school wrestling coach who awoke to his addiction upon being recognized by a former student while shooting up in a dope house. Kelvin spun out of control at a community picnic while high on drugs, coming to grips with his addiction when he saw himself through his daughter’s eyes.
Directed by Tory Estern Jadow; Produced by Hope Payson
Executive Producer Edie Dao Schechter

65 minutes, color, 2021
Streaming Launch Date: April 6, 2021
by Tory Estern Jadow

Drug overdoses in the U.S. now kill more people than gun homicides and car crashes combined. Like many other health and social issues, this crisis has been exacerbated by COVID-19. A misunderstanding of pain management has led to a widespread over-prescription of highly addictive opiates, a pipeline drug that often results in the newly addicted seeking street drugs once prescriptions become unobtainable. The reality of drug addiction is that it is ubiquitous and non-discriminatory, and what was once a problem buried by socioeconomic and racial biases, cloaked in stigma and shame, has reached critical mass. It is an epidemic. At the center of Uprooting Addiction is the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, a widely accepted methodology often referenced by medical and psychiatric professionals. The study analyzes the correlation between ten types of childhood trauma (which can include neglect, and emotional, physical, and sexual abuse) and long-term health outcomes, revealing a causal relationship between the two.

Despite this, trauma treatment is rarely taught in medical school or offered to adults struggling with addiction. Over the three years we were making Uprooting Addiction, we witnessed evidence that prevention and education are better solutions for our current drug epidemic than punishment and incarceration. Co-producer Hope Payson, a national expert on the topics of trauma, neglect, and addiction, offers a model for treatment guiding patients through the painful and often transformative process of unearthing the past to understand the roots of their addiction. Her methodology also focuses on community, and many of her patients turn to community service as part of their recovery.

Our film explores how a healthy community relies on the multifaceted participation of people working across the sectors – from medical fields, to social work and activism, to law enforcement. Moreover, it requires the willingness of its individuals to investigate their own biases and judgments, those that build stigma and shame around an epidemic from which no one is immune.
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