Synopsis: “Uprooting Addiction: Healing from the Ground Up” is a mosaic like portrait of a single
community coming together to take on one of the most urgent challenges of our times. From
director Tory Estern Jadow, and producers Hope Payson and Edie Schechter, comes a compelling look at the national drug addiction epidemic
that continues to ravage local communities across the U.S., including the filmmakers’ own in
Northwest Connecticut. The film follows six people from varying walks of life each affected
by childhood trauma who candidly share their personal stories. These testimonies are
interwoven with uplifting, up to the minute accounts from an equally diverse group of activists,
officials, and experts, working tirelessly on the front lines of this unrelenting public health crisis.
Our country is struggling with a drug overdose rate that has decreased life expectancy for the first time in decades. Overdoses now kill more people than gun homicides and car crashes combined. A misunderstanding of pain management has led to a widespread over-prescription of highly addictive opiates, a pipeline drug that often results in the newly addicted seeking street drugs once prescriptions become unobtainable.
The potency of accessible painkillers like Fentanyl has become difficult to ascertain and regulate, leading to pervasive unintended overdose. In the state of Connecticut, accidental drug overdose deaths in 2017 exceeded 1000, and demonstrated an increase of nearly 300 percent in the past five years.
The reality of drug addiction is that it is ubiquitous and non-discriminatory, and what was once a problem buried by socioeconomic and racial biases, cloaked in stigma and shame, has reached critical mass. It is an epidemic.
At the center of Uprooting Addiction is the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, a widely accepted methodology often referenced by medical and psychiatric professionals. The study analyzes the correlation between ten types of childhood trauma (which can include neglect, and emotional, physical, and sexual abuse) and long-term health outcomes, revealing a causal relationship between the two.
In the study of over 17,000 middle-class American adults of diverse ethnicity, up to 75 percent of people seeking treatment for addiction had experienced a traumatic event in their past. Corroborating this, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the American Medical Association, and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders all define addiction as a chronic, relapsing brain disorder that, like diabetes and heart disease, is caused by a combination of behavioral, environmental and biological forces.
Despite this, trauma treatment is rarely taught in medical school or offered to adults struggling with addiction. Drug prevention efforts under the War on Drugs have prioritized controlling the flow of and access to drugs, instead of focusing on the demand for them, and understanding why so many feel the need to self-medicate. Alternatively, harm reduction methods employ a realistic, compassionate approach to addiction, working with the understanding that for many, recovery is a process.
While we were making Uprooting Addiction during a three-year period from 2016 to 2019, we witnessed evidence that prevention and education are better solutions for our current drug epidemic than punishment and incarceration. Co-producer Hope Payson (LCSW, LADC), a national expert on the topics of trauma, neglect, and addiction, offers a model for treatment guiding patients through the painful and often transformative process of unearthing the past to understand the roots of their addiction.
Her methodology also focuses on community, and many of her patients turn to community service as part of their recovery, understanding that compassion for those struggling with addiction fortifies the self-compassion that maintains their own sobriety.
Our film explores how a healthy community relies on the multifaceted participation of people working across the sectors — from medical fields, to social work and activism, to law enforcement. Moreover, it requires the willingness of its individuals to investigate their own biases and judgments, those that build stigma and shame around an epidemic from which no one is immune.
Tory Estern Jadow is a 20 year veteran of the New York City film industry. She began her career
working crew on feature films, commercials, music videos, and documentaries throughout the
’80s and ’90s. After receiving an MFA in fiction writing, Jadow moved
to Litchfield County, Connecticut where she works as a director, cinematographer, writer, and award-winning editor.
New Jersey Recovery Film Festival - 2020
Best Hope Film (Tory Estern Jadow, Hope Payson, Edie Schechter)
New Jersey Recovery Film Festival - 2020
Best Editor (Uprooting Addiction, Tory Estern Jadow, Ali Muney)
Mystic Film Festival - 2020
Human Rights Award