The films in the HBO Addiction series are no movie-of-the-week tearjerkers. Designed to be revealing and at times hard-hitting, these documentaries look at the tough realities of addiction.
Some of the biggest names in documentary filmmaking took part in the HBO Addiction series.
- John Alpert is the multiple Emmy award-winning director of Baghdad ER. His experience in the industry goes back thirty years.
- Participant Albert Maysles and his brother David made the original Grey Gardens, on which the blockbuster Broadway play is based. Their pioneering works are shown in university film classes around the world.
- Alan and Susan Raymond were the artists behind one of the first "reality TV" shows, the controversial An American Family, back in 1973. More recently they took home an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
Real People, Real Stories
All the films in the HBO Addiction series are documentaries. The stories are true and the characters are real. At the heart of the series is Addiction, a feature-length film consisting of several shorter segments, each dealing with a different aspect of addiction. If you missed the broadcasts (March 15-April 16, 2007), they're all available on the HBO Addiction Series website.
HBO Addiction Series Stories
The stories in the film, Addiction, deal with addiction in many different ways. One looks a drug that could help combat alcoholism. Another examines why it's so hard for a recovering addict to avoid a relapse. Other segments include:
- Saturday Night in a Dallas ER. Maybe you've heard about inner city ER's being crowded with gunshot patients and other victims of violence. But did you know that many ER patients are victims of addiction? In this segment, covering just one night in a Dallas ER, doctors work to help patients including a stabbing victim who was high on cocaine and a teenager who almost drank himself to death
- A Mother's Desperation. What do you do when your child can't stay away from heroin? This segment tells the story of one mother who, desperate to get help for her daughter, had a warrant issued for the daughter's arrest.
- The Adolescent Addict. Teens are especially vulnerable to drugs of abuse. This story of a 15 year-old drug addict acts as a plea for families to get help for troubled teens.
- Brain Imaging. How do doctors study addiction? One way is by using electronic imaging to see how people's brains respond to alcohol and drugs. This scientific segment shows how brain imaging can help in the battle against addiction.
- Insurance Woes. Insurance often fails to cover long-term treatment for addiction. This section documents efforts by a Pennsylvania group to pass a law that requires insurance companies to pay for addiction treatment. Participants include a mother whose child was dismissed from an inpatient rehab program because insurance wouldn't pay. The young woman was found dead at home the next morning.
Extended stories from the central film, other personal stories, and additional topics make up the rest of the HBO Addiction series. Interviews with treatment experts offer insight into what can be done to help. A doctor outlines the underlying mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety, which can contribute to or result from addiction. A visit to drug court shows where treatment fits in the criminal justice system. In-depth profiles show the struggles of three individuals fighting their own addiction demons.
Not Just Entertainment
The HBO Addiction Project is more than just a TV series. Produced in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the project includes an extensive website. You'll find medical information about addiction, details about addiction and teenagers, advice for long-term addiction and recovery, and information about fighting discrimination against people facing addiction or working through recovery.
Nearly two dozen experts, including doctors, psychologists, social workers, and lawyers contributed information or articles to the HBO Addiction Series project and to the website. Experts' articles offer concrete information and advice for people seeking help for themselves or for loved ones.