The popular online news outlet Vice has just launched a new digital video channel called Tonic. The new channel is being touted as your premier source for everything pertaining to health and addiction. Many of the topics that are set to be covered include HIV/AIDS, mental illness, healthcare, anxiety, depression and the opioid crisis.
Recently the channel just aired a Hepatitis C documentary entitled Hepatitis Country: Inside America’s Opioid-Fueled Epidemic. The documentary takes a candid look inside the abject poverty laden community of Huntington, West Virginia and its residents hardfought battle against heroin and hepatitis C.
West Virginia and Hepatitis C
The documentary opens with a poignant reminder that nearly 3.5 million people in the U.S. are infected with Hepatitis C, most being completely unaware that they are even infected with the disease. The next visceral imagery that greets the viewers is a spoon containing heroin being cooked while a female voice narrates on about the overwhelming struggle of choosing to get high over the potential risk of contracting hepatitis C. We then watch on as Amber, the female narrator, then inserts herself in the arm with the needle – the allure of heroin wins out against the perceived health risks.
West Virginia in particular has an unusually high rate of hepatitis C infections, five times higher than the national average. This documentary is the first of many specials that examine the failed policy of the country’s war on drugs. One of the subjects of the documentary, Tommy, recounts how you can live without certain things like food and water for a number of days, but only seconds without something as lofty and intangible, yet essential as hope.
Vice: An Alternative Voice
Vice has a history of covering unorthodox topics with a bold and fresh new take. Much of their subject matter is considered too taboo and risque for many mainstream media outlets and they relish their place as countercultural news source and iconoclast.
With Tonic however the Vice brand hopes to cover more topics associated with health and in particular addiction. The channel plans to delve deeply into the health insurance aspects associated with the opioid crisis and how doctors and patients interface in this system.
The common thread among the users in the documentary tie back to filling a deep emotional void from their past. Every user experienced a significant life moment that impacted them on a intrinsic level. Heroin felt like the only thing that worked in dulling their pain. Where alcohol came up short heroin did the trick.
The Science of Addiction
A resounding theme in the documentary is the scientific applications behind treating addiction. The Tonic channel will focus much of its documentaries currently in production on the budding new technological discoveries in treating the recovery community.
The documentary serves as a stark reminder that there always is a consequence to contend with when choosing to use drugs like heroin. The risk reward ratio is just too high when it comes to this kind of drug. The fact that most of the users who are featured on this show most likely have hepatitis C, yet do not seem to know is a deathly frightening proposition.
As always information is power and the goal of these documentaries should be to inform and empower the public to make better decisions when it comes to managing the risk of using drugs. The best way to manage the risk is by not abusing drugs at all. There is always an option for a higher road that doesn’t entail actually getting high. Get help before it is too late.