LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- In response to a nationwide concern and the growing epidemic of opioid abuse here in Arkansas, UA Little Rock Mid-South is premiering a film Wednesday night they hope hits home.
Chief Kirk Lane, Arkansas' newly appointed drug director, said last year over 108 million hydrocodone were dispensed in the state.
Written Off features the story of Matt Edwards, but relates to millions who've come face to face with prescription drug abuse, including those right here in Arkansas. It hopes to combat the stigma around drug use and encourage compassion.
“This was someone who really wanted to stop and couldn't do it” said film Director Molly Hermann.
Written Off gives a firsthand glance at drug abuse and misuse, a secret battle many face every day.
“This particular film brings that home in a way statistics can’t,” Gigi Peters said, with UA Little Rock Mid-South.
The group has worked with battling addiction in the community for over 45 years.
The feature documentary film tells the story of Matt Edwards. His addiction started when he just 15 years old.
“His big fear was not being able to get the drug so that he didn't go through withdrawal and experience horrible pain,” said Hermann. “He said that introduction to opioids and first pill he took made him feel like he'd been touched by God.”
Edwards was prescribed Vicodin after a minor surgery that didn't go well. That moment began Edwards’ 10 year affair with drugs. He wrote down every cc and milligram that went into body and every dollar he spent on more.
"How do you go from being the star athlete or the lead in the high school play, to putting a needle in your arm?” said Hermann.
UA Little Rock Mid-South is premiering the movie due to Arkansas' increasing addiction rates.
“Arkansas is 8th in the nation in terms of prescription overdose deaths and that trend is only rising,” Peters said. “If we work together we can end this.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 40 people die every day from prescription overdose. What starts out as a choice, can sometimes become a disorder.
"I think that the biggest lesson for me was how hard he was trying to quit,” said Hermann.
Written Off premiered Wednesday night at the Ron Robinson Theater. The event was free and open to the public. Lane assisted in moderating the event along with Hermann.