A true-life story that’s enacted by the real-life participants but is not a documentary in any traditional sense. Not only did the young actor Jia Hongsheng (who rose to stardom in China, succumbed to heroin addiction, and alienated his family with erratic, schizoid behavior) agree to re-create this harrowing period in his life, but so did his family, as well as everyone else who appears in Quitting. His recovery is as compelling as his collapse; the efforts of his family to support his return to health are deeply moving. Director Zhang Yang (Shower) shifts styles without losing the forward momentum of this remarkable chronicle. Quitting was a sensation inChina, where the struggle between traditional conformity and individual freedom grows increasingly tense, making this movie a striking social document as well as a gripping personal story.





 … 2000

Hooked: Illegal Drugs and How they Got that Way


(2 DVDs, 200 minutes) (available in libraries and through A&E)


There has been a “drug culture” since the dawn of civilization. Sumerian cuneiform tablets from 3000 BC show a poppy harvest, as do ancient Egyptian scripts and Greek statues adorned with poppy crowns. Far more recently, Freud sung the praises of cocaine, which was included in the original recipe for Coca-Cola. But since the industrial revolution, drug use has changed dramatically, and society’s response to this–particularly inAmerica–has been to demonize users and make drugs illegal.


HOOKED explores the world of illegal drugs, meeting with pharmacologists and scientists to learn exactly what effect they have on us and exploring the social and legislative changes that have transformed (and, some would argue, created) the drug culture of the 20th century. Outspoken advocates on both sides of the “war on drugs” illuminate this polarizing issue, and fascinating accounts and artifacts illustrate the role of drugs throughout history.


Two volumes:
One:  Marijuana and Methamphetamine/Opium, Morphine and Heroin
Two:  Cocaine/LSD, Ecstasy and the Raves




 … 1999




This film explores the history of the American government’s official policy on marijuana in the 20th century. Rising with nativist xenophobia with Mexican immigration and their taste for smoking marijuana, we see the establishment of a wrong headed federal drug policy as a crime issue as oppposed to a public health approach. Fuelled by prejudice, hysterical propaganda and political opportunism undeterred by voices of reason on the subject, we follow the story of a costly and futile crusade against a substance with questionable ill effects that has damaged basic civil liberites.



       … 1998


Bill Moyers – Close to Home




Journalist Bill Moyers takes an unprecedented look at addiction and recovery inAmericawith the five-part series MOYERS ON ADDICTION: CLOSE TO HOME.





The series begins with testimony from the real experts — recovering addicts. Through a montage of intense interviews with nine people from various walks of life, this first program brings viewers face-to-face with the pain of addiction and the possibility of recovery. Each person has had a unique experience with a range of addictive substances — from cocaine and heroin to alcohol and tobacco.




Aided by powerful new diagnostic tools, scientists are making dramatic discoveries about how addiction affects the brain. In the second program of the series, Moyers goes into the laboratory to follow researchers who are engaged in charting an “image of desire in the brain.” AtMassachusetts GeneralHospital, Moyers joins Dr. Steven Hyman, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, and other neuroscientists as they take images of a cocaine user’s brain as drugs take effect.



While addiction may cause similar changes in the brains of very different people, recovery is a very individual process. Changing behavior is the aim of treatment, but there is no “one-size-fits-all” program. In this episode, Moyers visits the Ridgeview Institute, near Atlanta, to interview recovering addicts who have gathered for an annual reunion. It was here that the Moyers’ oldest son, William Cope, was treated after a relapse interrupted his recovery.





One in five American children lives in a home with an addicted person. What can be done to break the cycle of addiction in this next generation? Experts are learning that some currently popular efforts at preventing drug use may have little effect on children most at risk for developing addiction, making it urgent for us to develop better programs. One such young person is T.J., whose parents are both battling heroin addiction. The Moyers team meets them at a Seattlemethadone clinic, where they are taking part in a unique program called Focus on Families. By teaching parenting skills to recovering addicts on methadone, Focus on Families tries to improve the odds for their children.



In the final hour, CLOSE TO HOME focuses on the public policy challenge of addiction. Despite federal spending that now exceeds $16 billion annually, the war on drugs has failed to reduce the rate of addiction to illegal drugs. Meanwhile, more Americans are addicted to alcohol and tobacco than to all illegal drugs combined. Conflicting messages — some promoting drug use, others condemning it — have left American policy towards addictive substances at an impasse.




Go Ask Alice
(73 minutes)


Chronicles a teenage girl’s downhill spiral into drug addiction and her painful struggle to escape the pull of the drug world.




In Search of History: Ancient Drugs
(50 minutes)


Since mankind’s beginning, in every civilization, human beings have found ways to alter their consciousness in search of something “greater” than everyday reality. To this end, we have indulged in and experimented with all manner of frightening, toxic, even potentially lethal substances, in many different rituals.  ANCIENT DRUGS delves into mankind’s psyche in search of the key to our pervasive drive to experience something “beyond.”




 … 1997


Betty Ford: One Day at a Time
(50 minutes)


A biographical sketch of Betty Ford, the wife of U.S. President Gerald Ford, detailing her life as First Lady, her political interests, and her struggle with alcoholism.


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