Huntington residents react to Heroin(e) Netflix documentary

A scene from the documentary Heroin(e) shows emergency responders working on a patient who had overdosed on heroin. (Netflix )

A Netflix original documentary follows three women in Huntington who are working to break the cycle of drug abuse.

Similar to the three-woman highlighted in the documentary, one Huntington family is also refusing to allow the opioid epidemic define their home and community.

"What can we do to help people more? What can we do to change the stigma of addiction and how can we actually empower people to change their lives." Elaine McMillion Sheldon said.

Those are questions Sheldon set out to answer in the Netflix documentary “Heroin(e)" which follows three woman who are working to change their city.

"It's not a drug film, it's not a film about heroin or opioids, it's about individuals trying to make change,” Sheldon said.

Changing the stigma of drug abuse in Huntington stuck out to Ryan Stoner and his family as they watched.

"There's a struggle in our region, not just in the city of Huntington for our story to be the story that we tell,” Stoner said.

His wife Jana said Huntington’s story is told here through the compassion of Huntington Fire Chief Jan Rader, Necia Freeman with brown bag ministry, and Cabell County Judge Patricia Keller.

"They are heroes and they are combatting the epidemic in incredible ways, they have compassion, they have heart, and that is the real story of Huntington, and that is the real story of Huntington that there are people working together to make a united impact in this community,” Jana Stoner said.

"Just having a documentary on Netflix in the first place is going to put a negative stigma on Huntington, unless you actually watch it. And once you watch it, and when you actually watch it you realize how much we're trying to develop as a city and get past this,” Huntington resident Wesley Wright said.

Since the documentary came out, Rader has received calls and messages from across the world.

"They're very thankful that somebody is portraying help for those suffering from addiction in a positive light,” Rader said.

Rader said she's honored to be a small part of starting the conversation of change in Huntington.

"I hope it gives people the courage to stand up and do the same thing. We're all human and we all need to treated with dignity and respect,” Rader said.

"This is home. This is their home and this is where we want them to have their future and God forbid sometime my children struggle, I hope that nobody would give up on them either,” Jana Stoner said.

The Center for Investigative Reporting funded the film through its Glassbreaker initiative, which supports women filmmakers and film specifically about women making change.

“Heroin(e)” officially launched on Tuesday is now available on Netflix.

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