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In 2016, 64,000 people in the U.S. died from drug overdoses. That number was driven largely by an epidemic of opioid abuse. Communities all over the country are losing friends and family members to this crisis at a terribly high rate. I know this firsthand, because I grew up in one of these places: Somerville, Mass.

More than a year ago I began thinking about how to tell the story of what happened to my circle of friends, and that turned into Runnin’, our award-winning documentary that premieres Thursday at I hoped that by examining how the drugs took hold in my hometown, I could illustrate how the same thing can and does happen everywhere. Runnin’ includes candid and thoughtful interviews with friends who lost family members and others who abused opioids themselves. One family, who lost their son and brother, started The Alex Foster Foundation in his honor to help families harmed by opioids.

Runnin’ also examines the role pharmaceutical companies played in promoting the prescription drug OxyContin and downplaying the risk of addiction. Nearly every friend of mine that battled opioid addiction started with OxyContin and progressed to more dangerous but chemically similar street drugs like heroin and the synthetic opioid fentanyl.


It is part of STAT’s mission to find and tell compelling stories about health, medicine, and scientific discovery. Please consider purchasing the film for download today.

  • I have been a massage therapist for 21 years, specializing in pain. I have found that the forced “running” requirements in the public schools to be at the core of almost all pain issues, in people in their 20’s,30’s and 40’s. If you would like for me to participate in a study to prove what I know is fact, please let me know.

    • Also meant to say, it is this “running” that is at the root of the opioid crisis. I just had a patient yesterday, who told me her PE teacher threatened to fail her if she did not do her required running. This person has hyper-mobility and is now suffering the effects of that mandate

  • I’m sorry his friends chose o abuse their medications. I’m sorry their family and friends didn’t step up when they saw their friend running out of pain medicine early and tell their doctor. But I’m really sorry for all the pain patients suffering because his friends decided to abuse drugs…

  • I don’t understand… Alcohol kills 88,000 people a year. Tobacco still kills over 400,000 people a year yet it’s not an epidemic.. These are legal drugs..

    So please tell me why when 64,000 abuse medications legitimate pain patients need, it’s an epidemic?
    Physicians need to stand up and say enough, law enforcement should not practice medicine.

  • Thieves and swindlers. “We’re not bad people, it’s the drugs that make us like that” Yeah go home and drink a bottle then smack your wife around and blame it on the booze and then consider yourself not a bad person, brilliant. These people are fucking fried. Need to take a little accountability. The rest of us struggle just to make ends meet and we don’t need these fucking zombies among us. We all have our problems I just don’t care about yours.

    • Youve obviously been blessed with never having an addiction. No one, including an addict/alcoholic, will ever say its ok to do harm to another just because theyre intoxicated. Thats NOT what “its the drug that makes us that way” comment is saying. If you’ve never had an addiction problem, you should refrain from making ignorant and hateful comments like that because all it does is make you look ignorant and hateful. And if you are that angry at someone or something to make you say things like that, then that is something you need to deal with yourself instead of taking your anger out on other people, putting people down to make yourself feel better, especially on a topic you know nothing about. You could probably say ” Im not usually so hateful, its _____ that made me this way….” Right? Would you want someone responding to you the way you just did? Sure, we all have problems, but we all don’t have to be hateful towards other people. You say “we all have problems, I just dont care about yours…” Well, maybe if you spent more time caring about others, the world would start caring about you. Maybe your problems wouldn’t seem so big if you really took the time to talk to someone and find out what theyre going through. Then maybe someone would take the time to listen to what YOU”RE going through and would help you. Maybe that addict would end up being a shoulder for you or be there for you when you needed it, because they knew how it felt to need someone to care. If you continue to live life with the “I hate the world, I don’t care about anyone” attitude, thats what you’ll get in return. But don’t go talking about addiction and putting addicts down when you obviously have NO idea what being an addict is about. Yes, we all have problems, but being nasty isn’t going to make your problems any better. It makes them worse. Try caring for someone else, try being there for someone else. You’d be surprised how good it makes you feel being KIND to someone else, even when your world is falling apart. You’d be surprised at how much good comes your way, just by being nice or understanding or listening to someone else. But if you continue to be hateful, then hate will come your way. You get what you give in life. Treat others as YOU would want to be treated. And again, NO addict says its ok to hurt someone else. If they do, then their issues go way beyond the alcohol and have mental issues. So please, don’t waste time commenting on things you’re not personally familiar with or know nothing about. Just like we wouldnt comment on your life because we know nothing about it. Try instead, to be kind to others. You’ll see how that changes your life.

  • Okay, I will agree opioid abuse is possibly real, but all this hype is hurting the real sufferer, literally. I have severe arthritis and persons like me are wondering what this means for us. Are we going to be stripped of the only thing that allows us a little semblance of a life. Worries like this are causing much anxiety.

    • That’s the chemical telling your brain and body that nothing else will help you. There are other options , a lot more options ! From a mother of an opiate addict and chronic hip pain. There are other options than opiates. Merry Christmas!

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