Opiate-related overdose deaths have quadrupled in the U.S. since 2001. In 2014, Massachusetts had more than 1,250 deaths from heroin overdose; today, 85 percent of the crimes on Cape Cod are opiate-related.
Heroin: Cape Cod, USA is a cinema-verité look at the heroin epidemic currently sweeping America's small towns and communities, focusing on eight young heroin addicts in idyllic Cape Cod, Mass. This searing documentary is directed by Academy Award-winner Steven Okazaki (HBO's White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki).
There has been an alarming rise in opiate addiction in the U.S. recently. A startling 80 percent of heroin users started with prescription painkillers following an accident or surgery, and as more states legalize marijuana, Mexican drug cartels are replacing lost profits by pushing cheap, potent heroin into new markets.
Known for its quaint villages, lighthouses and beaches, the picturesque summer vacation destination of Cape Cod has been struck with an epidemic of young people hooked on affordable, easily acquired heroin. This harrowing film takes an unsparing look at the lives of eight heroin addicts in their early 20s, living a seemingly endless existence of getting high while cycling through stages of rehab, recovery and relapse.
Falmouth, Mass. is a typical community in a state that has lately seen an average of nearly four heroin deaths per day. The individuals spotlighted in Heroin: Cape Cod, USA, all of whom live in the area, talk candidly about their heroin habit and their community, where, according to one of them, "either you work or you do drugs."
Heroin: Cape Cod, USA visits the Parents Supporting Parents Group of Cape Cod, where parents describe raising their kids in happy homes, only to see everything change when their sons and daughters started abusing pain medication. Receiving invaluable support from other parents in the same situation, they share feelings of co-dependency and discuss the financial burden of having a child cycling in and out of detox.
"There are very few people I met in Massachusetts who didn't have a connection to this crisis," says director Steven Okazaki. "It has taken a very real, and wide toll in a way that I did not see 20 years ago. I think this documentary could have been made in many communities around New England and across the country."
Steven Okazaki is the recipient of numerous honors, including an Academy Award® (Best Documentary Short Subject for Days of Waiting, 1991); three other Academy Award® nominations, for Unfinished Business, Cinemax's The Mushroom Club and HBO's The Conscience of Nhem En; an Emmy® (Exceptional Merit in Nonfiction Filmmaking for HBO's White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 2008); and a Peabody Award for Days of Waiting. Okazaki has produced and/or directed numerous other projects for HBO, including Black Tar Heroin and Rehab.
Heroin: Cape Cod, USA is produced, directed and edited by Steven Okazaki; co-producers, Lise Balk King, Vanessa Carr; camera, Steven Okazaki, Vanessa Carr; additional camera, Greg Knowles, Lise Balk King; music by Thomas Carnacki. For HBO: senior producer, Sara Bernstein; executive producer, Sheila Nevins.