Danya Institute Inc.

Addiction/Drug Use


The Faces of Drug Addiction

This video features two young men who underwent surgeries at early ages. As a result, they became addicted first to painkillers and eventually to other drugs. The narrator notes that, given their success in sports and family life, neither man fits the “typical” appearance of an addict. Both men discuss how addiction led them away from their families and into isolation, and how they eventually recovered. (00:05:02)

Invisible People: Cameron

In this video, Mark Horvath interviews Cameron, a homeless man from Fort McMurry, Alberta (Canada), who speaks candidly about the vicious cycles of both homelessness and opiate addiction. This interview is the first in a series that Horvath conducts with homeless individuals across North America. Cameron’s interview focuses on his day-to-day struggle, the help that he would like to receive in order to get clean and off the street, and what he really wants in his life. Cameron uses some harsh language, so this video would be best for mature audiences. This video is available at http://invisiblepeople.tv/blog/, where you can find a variety of videos relating to homeless individuals. (00:08:55)

Love Story

This short film is a creative depiction of the intense connection between opiates and the brain’s reward system, with actors playing the roles of a neuron and Molly Morphine. This video attempts to explain the pathway of neurotransmitters in a brain stimulated by opiates in a creative, easy-to-understand manner. Created by Alistair Jennings, this video won the University College London Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience’s Brains on Film video contest in 2011 and was one of PsychCentral’s Top Ten Mental Health Videos of 2011. (00:06:29)

Critical Dialogue with Native Youth About Underage Drinking

This video features Native youth and family members detailing the negative impact of underage drinking on their personal lives and communities. The interviewees talk about peer pressure and saying “no.” They also discuss prevention in context of culture and tradition. This video is appropriate for all audiences and would be particularly good for Native American youth and individuals that work with Native Americans. This video is available on SAMHSA’s official YouTube channel, which features many other videos related to substance abuse and addiction. (00:09:47)

Meth Inside Out: Brain & Behavior – Triggers

This video looks at triggers, which are arguably one of the most difficult aspects facing those recovering from methamphetamine addiction. It explains that this is because of the strong impact methamphetamine has on the motivation and reward system of the brain. Regarding treatment, this video explains the importance of breaking down triggers into thoughts and cravings, and it states that intervention should take place at restructuring the thought. This video would be great for individuals in recovery as well as those working with them. It is available on the MethInsideOut YouTube channel, which includes a variety of short videos related to different aspects of methamphetamine addiction recovery (relationships, relapse, emotions, etc.). (00:05:22)

Serenity Ranch: CBT in Addiction Treatment: How Does It Work?

This video describes how Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be a useful tool for addiction counselors and behavioral health care workers. With use of a whiteboard, the major tenets of CBT are explained, including core beliefs, assumptions, and the ways that individuals attempt to protect persistent negative thoughts about themselves. The importance of altering the original thought about an event from irrational to rational is explained. This video, which is available on Serenity Ranch’s YouTube channel, would be useful for professionals working with people in addiction treatment settings. (00:09:36)

Co-Occurring Disorders – Introductory Video

This video begins with individuals describing their own struggles with mental illness and addiction and then moves on to a group taking an integrative approach to treatment. A good starting point would be 00:10:31, when the heading “Integrated Treatment Works Best” appears on the screen and individuals speak to the importance of holistic treatment. This video might encourage mental health workers to treat people with co-occurring disorders with integrative approaches or at least encourage communication between providers. This video, which was created by SAMHSA as part of their Integrated Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders Evidence Based Practice (EBP) KIT, is available both at www.SAMHSA.org and on the SAMHSA YouTube channel. (00:18:42)

Brain and Behavior

This video provides a virtual simplification of the pleasure-seeking area of the brain. Normal brain functioning is described and then compared to a brain stimulated by methamphetamine. This video would be a great tool for stimulating discussion about this particular addiction. The Montana Meth Project (montana.methproject.org) provides this and a variety of other videos on the topic of meth addiction on the MethProject YouTube channel. (00:02:44)

Montana Meth Documentary

This graphic HBO documentary sheds light on the methamphetamine epidemic in the state of Montana. We meet a number of young people who help put a face to this addiction. With harsh language, the depiction of intravenous drug use, and discussion about rough sex and prostitution as a result of meth use, this video would be most appropriate for professionals and those interested in creating programming to help tackle this issue. The following list breaks out segments of this documentary by topic:

  • 00:00:00-00:14:30 We meet young people addicted to meth in Montana.
  • 00:14:30-00:15:50 Neurologists speak about the effects of meth on the body.
  • 00:15:50-00:20:46 Due to Montana’s large Native American population, this segment highlights the effect of meth on this culture.
  • 00:20:46-00:23:57 Individuals share their stories about the things they regret doing most as a result of using meth.
  • 00:23:57-00:27:47 Law enforcement in the area talk about their experience fighting the battle against meth.
  • 00:27:47-00:35:40 Family members of meth addicts speak. Addicts also speak about regrets and the pain they caused their families.
  • 00:35:40-00:42:21 The ingredients of meth are discussed. This segment takes a law enforcement perspective and brings us into drug court and jail.
  • 00:42:21-00:49:29 Discussion centers on the impact that meth has on the entire body, including the inability to feel pleasure after using meth. This segment would be helpful to show to professionals treating those with addiction since depression after meth use leads many to relapse.
  • 00:49:29-00:58:30 The treatment court is discussed and one of the young people depicted throughout the film is shown with his mother. It’s unclear to all parties whether the man is being truthful, but he claims to have not used in some time. The viewer is able to see the terrible position this mother is in as she wishes that more help were available.
  • 00:58:30 One of the most poignant interviewees in this documentary gives some final words about her meth addiction struggle to conclude the documentary. (00:59:34)

Alcoholism vs. Alcohol Dependence

This short clip describes the difference between alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. According to the speaker, alcoholism is defined by issues of tolerance and withdrawal while alcohol dependence is viewed in terms of negative consequences in the individual’s life. This video is available on HowCast.com under the How to Understand Addiction category. (00:00:58)

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Setting Rules for Your Children about Alcohol, Tobacco, and Illegal Drugs

This vignette provides scenarios for ways parents can communicate their rules and expectations regarding drinking, smoking, and doing drugs to their children. It also offers options for parents deciding how to respond when their children ask them about their personal drug use history. This video is available on SAMHSA’s official YouTube channel in their “Essential Communication Skills for Parents and Caregivers” section, which includes a variety of educational videos on communicating with children about drugs and alcohol. (00:07:33)

The Dangers of K2

Pediatric cardiologist Dr. Colin Kane speaks about the rising issue of synthetic marijuana, also known as K2 or K9. He explains that the lure of these drugs for teens probably lies in the fact that they do not show up in drug screens. He also speaks about two teenage boys he recently treated who both had serious cardiac complications due to ingesting K2. At the end of the video, Kane speaks directly to healthcare providers and urges them to remember to ask questions about all drug use, including K2, in order to best treat their patients. This video is appropriate for anyone working in applicable healthcare fields—with adolescents, parents of adolescent children, and clients in drug and rehab centers—and would also be great for adolescents and clients. This video is available on the Children’s Medical Center YouTube channel. (00:03:16)

Reefer Madness

This 1937 low-budget exploitation film Reefer Madness is known for its dramatic scare tactics against the use of marijuana. While the film was originally titled Don’t Tell Your Children and was funded by church groups intended to inform parents about the dangers of marijuana, it was bought shortly after its release and made into an exploitation film. The film was picked up again in the 1970s as part of Cannabis Policy Reform advocacy efforts and garnered a cult following because of its unintentional humor. It was released again in 2004 in color. Watching a segment from it would be a humorous way to begin a discussion about information dissemination and would even be relevant to compare to recent fear-driven advertisements—involving zombies—about drugs today, such as K2 (this comparison was made in a recent Huffington Post article written by the managing director of communications for the Drug Policy Alliance). An older audience with some familiarity with the film’s history would be most appropriate. Entire Film: Reefer Madness (01:08:18)

Marijuana (1968): Sonny Bono warning kids against marijuana

This short 1968 film is hosted by Sonny Bono and targeted toward teens. Bono attempts to take a neutral stance on marijuana, erring on the side of information over scare tactics. The film begins with a clip of young people yelling their arguments for the legalization of marijuana as they are videotaped being arrested. Bono takes each teenager’s statement and challenges it with current research from the time. A particularly interesting part of this film is the group therapy segment from the Narcotics Rehabilitation Center (00:09:04 to 00:15:15), which features clients discussing their drug history. This segment emphasizes marijuana as a gateway drug, but it could be a great discussion point with clinicians and behavioral healthcare workers about the groups they run: what has changed, what hasn’t changed, and what clients say today compared to what they said in 1968. The entire video is available at www.archive.org. (00:32:36)

The Ripple Effect of Substance Abuse

This Creativity for a Cause video features the faces of many young people as we hear audio recordings of young adults describing the impact of their parents’ addictions on their childhood. This video, which also provides statistics regarding this issue, would be helpful for Al-Anon attendees, individuals who work with children and adolescents, and individuals in recovery themselves. This video is available on the Create4aCause YouTube channel. (00:04:12)

How to Understand Addiction: 82 Short Videos

This link connects to HowCast.com’s Addiction section, which features very short videos that are direct and informative. They cover a range of issues related to addiction, including bath salts and other new drugs on the rise, some common definitions, information about how to enter treatment, signs and symptoms of addiction, and addiction to various substances and activities other than drugs and alcohol (food, internet, porn, etc.) as well as co-occurring addictions. A lecturer speaking on the topic of addictions would likely find this webpage extremely useful.

Sources for more short videos on Addiction:

Bob and the Monster

[Available only on Amazon Prime Video]

This award-winning documentary tells the story of musician and addiction counselor Bob Forrest. Director Keidra Bahruth does a masterful job of recreating the frenetic rock and roll lifestyle of her subject with a visually engaging mix of home movie footage, animated sequences, and interviews.

This movie is also a snapshot of an era gone by. Bob Forrest came to Los Angeles in the 1980s as a young man. It was an era in which being a junkie was actually seen as something glamorous and “de rigueur” in the world of the hip and artistic. His determination to reach this status quickly led to severe heroin addiction. A promising career in rock and roll was squandered as a result.

However, when recovery finally took hold, his experiences gave him a unique advantage as an addictions counselor. He is able to relate to his clients, especially those in the entertainment industry, in the heartfelt way of one who has traveled the same path. He has become a role model for many of them, demonstrating that one can be creative, productive, and cool while living a sober and healthy life.

The film raises several interesting topics for discussion and debate beyond the changing attitudes in popular culture towards addiction. Forest and his colleagues feel that the current 30 day-treatment model promoted by insurance companies is severely lacking. They prefer a talk-therapy approach that could take a year to be effective. They are also against medication-assisted recovery, feeling that pharmaceuticals simply substitute one addiction for another. In their view, cost concerns of the insurance industry lead to these totally inadequate forms of treatment.

Bob Forrest is best known to many for his appearances on Celebrity Rehab and Sober House with Dr. Drew Pinsky. However, those seeking the inside story on these shows may be disappointed, because these areas of his life and work are given minimal attention. Still, at 90 minutes this film provides a compelling and thought-provoking portrait of how sobriety can be achieved and maintained.



Off-Label, this feature film’s title, refers to the practice by some physicians of prescribing a legal drug for a condition or disease for which the drug has not been specifically approved.

Off-Label is different from what might be expected for an educational documentary. Rather than presenting a lot of facts or statistics in a traditional narrative, this film is very artistically shot – a real pleasure for the eye that presents a rich, impressionistic tapestry of stories about our “pharma-culture”. It profiles drug-testing subjects (volunteer “guinea pigs”), drug representatives, and people with mental illness or PTSD who have experienced limited success with a pharmacological approach to managing their symptoms.

There are many emotional moments in this film. Although some of the images and stories are shocking enough to make this film better suited for a “mature” audience, Off-Label is so very well edited that the viewer never feels bombarded. Unlike too many frenetically edited movies these days, the pacing is very well executed; the many scheduled pauses allow the viewer to fully absorb what is being presented.

This film examines the marginal lives of some of the people who volunteer to be drug testers or “guinea pigs”.  Particularly disturbing are the allegations that it is common knowledge that many of the volunteers selected regularly lie or misrepresent facts about their health and suitability for drug testing. In retrospect, this seems quite credible; who but the most desperate among us would otherwise seek to subject their bodies to such a risky endeavor? The viewers must draw their own conclusions about how effectively and adequately some of the drug testing is being conducted.

This non-traditional documentary may present some controversial points and can, therefore, be used to start a much-needed conversation about the current role that pharmaceuticals play in American medicine. As an educational tool, use this film to inspire discussions on: (1) the use and abuse of pharmaceuticals in the US, (2) the possible overdependence in treating conditions with drugs instead of considering alternatives, and (3) the meaning of the term “polypharm” a term which may refer either to the use of multiple medications by one patient, or to excessive and/or unnecessary prescriptions, as described in the film.

Stafford, R. S. (2008).  Perspective: Regulating off-label drug use–rethinking the role of the FDA. New England Journal of Medicine, 358, 1427-1429.