MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. —Â Spectrum 13 News is taking a unique look at how the opioid crisis and heroin epidemic are affecting the children and families of addicts.
- Documentary, Town Hall discuss collateral damage
- Participants stressed need for communities to work together
- Programming will re-air May 26, 28
“The Opioid Crisis: Raising Heroin’s Children” is an original documentary focusing on the devastating impact heroin is having on Florida’s young people. It features three people affected by addiction: a user, a mother of an addict and a child of an addict.
One of the documentary’s subjects, Jessica Denichilo, first started using narcotics prescribed by her doctor. It eventually led her to a point where she was injecting heroin and other opiates into her veins.
Eventually, her addiction led to the loss of her children to foster care.
“I feel that addicts as a whole get a bad rap,” Jessica told us as she prepared to watch the documentary with a group of people in Bradenton. “People think that we’re lost causes of society, and in many cases that’s not true. We’re good people, we just went down a wrong path.”
The documentary shares harrowing stories of overdoses, jail time, broken families and in some cases, recovery and redemption.
After the documentary aired, a group of doctors, counselors, government leaders and law enforcement officers took part in a Town Hall-style discussion to continue the conversation.
Panelists said it’s important for communities to work together to find solutions.
“I think we’ve been doing a lot of talking for a couple years,”Â said Gerrie Stanhope, President of Silent No Longer. “We need more action. We need treatment centers in Manatee County. We need funding for people that don’t have insurance or money to go into treatment centers. There’s a lot of work to do.”
As for Denochilo, she said she’s close to regaining custody of her children. She hopes participating in the documentaryâ€‹ will help others.on. We need treatment centers in Manatee County. We need funding for people that don’t have insurance or money to go into treatment centers. There’s a lot of work to do.”
“I mean, if this helps one addict, gives one person the opportunity to live, then it was all worth it,” she said.
The documentary and town hall will re-air Saturday and Monday nights at 7 p.m.