A screening of the documentary “Uprooting Addiction: Healing From The Ground Up” was held at Northwestern Regional School on Friday, Jan 30. The event, which included a panel discussion, was co-sponsored by The Gilbert School, Northwestern Regional, Northwest Hills Prevention Connection, the McCall Center for Behavioral Health, and the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. The panel discussion included representatives from local organizations and several of the people profiled in the film. The documentary is about how America’s drug and addiction epidemic is impacting the Northwest Corner of Connecticut. Specifically, how past traumas have led people to addiction and the steps they have taken to break away from its destructive path.
The film was directed by Tory Estern Jadow, who was at the Jan. 30 screening at Northwestern. “What inspired me to make this film is a conversation I had with [co-producer] Hope Payson because she has been working in the addiction treatment field for decades,” Ms. Payson said. “She wanted to find a way to change attitudes about addiction and start conversations about it. Before I started work on the documentary I didn't know how pervasive this problem is. There is a saying that the opposite of addiction is not sobriety, it’s connection.” A part of the movie documents how people who have dealt with addiction all connect with each other in a recovery group, along with how they have connected back with their families. “I’ve learned that compassion, connection, and education are much more effective treatments than punishment, shame, and stigma,” Jadow said. “I hope that people will begin to feel better about openly talking about addiction, trauma, and mental health. Stigmas do not work. It’s like the AIDS crisis where silence equals death. Every community needs to change its attitudes towards addiction and be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”
“We have to get away from this idea that chemicals drive addiction,” Greenwoods Referral Counseling Services Executive Director John Simoncelli said before the screening. “It’s trauma, disconnection, and mental health issues that drive addiction. That’s what we need to address to help people and recover and prevent addiction in the first place.” Mr. Simoncelli said that Litchfield County is in the middle of an addiction crisis. “With the opioid epidemic, we have people who are dying every day,” Simoncelli said. “In Litchfield, we have about 30 people overdosing every month and 30 people die since June. It’s a very real and lethal problem.” Gilbert Principal Sue Sojka said that, when it comes to teenagers dealing with addiction issues, that open conversations are important when it comes to dealing with those issues. “I would advise families to have open and honest conversations with their children, including substances,” Mrs. Sojka said. “Open conversation is critical. Establishing that relationship early and keeping that relationship going throughout their children’s developmental stages is important. People should know that they can always ask for help. Don’t ever think that you are alone because there are so many people and resources out there that are willing to help out.”