In the heart of America's opioid epidemic, four men attempt to reinvent their lives and mend broken relationships after years of drug abuse. “Recovery Boys,” from Academy Award-nominated director Elaine McMillion Sheldon, is an intimate look at the strength, brotherhood and courage it takes to overcome addiction and lays bare the internal conflict of recovery.
Between 2010 and the start of 2018, synthetic opioid deaths in West Virginia quadrupled from 102 to 435 deaths, and deaths related to heroin in the state rose from 28 to 235 deaths, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In an effort to break the cycle of generational addiction and trauma, this documentary follows four young men as they let go of painful pasts to live in the present and build a new community at Jacob’s Ladder, a unique farming-based rehab treatment program located in West Virginia.
After rehab, they experience life's trials and tribulations sober, but struggle to find their place and purpose in an often-unforgiving society. In today’s world, where shocking statistics about the opioid crisis make headlines daily, “Recovery Boys” offers a deeply personal look into the unseen lives of those working toward transformation.
“I make this film not to victimize, pity or make excuses for individuals, but to uplift the stories of people who are actively trying to make change, no matter how big or small,” Sheldon said.
Sheldon is a Peabody Award-winning documentary filmmaker based in West Virginia. She is the director of “Heroin(e),” a Netflix original documentary short that follows three women fighting the opioid crisis in Huntington, West Virginia. “Heroin(e)” was nominated for a 2018 Academy Award. In 2013, she released “Hollow,” an interactive documentary that examines the future of rural America through the eyes and voices of West Virginians.
“For Appalachians, the struggle with opioids has been a long one — starting in the 1990s — and my generation plays a central role. Each year, I learn of more of my former classmates who are battling addiction — some of them losing their lives to overdoses, others committing crimes that lead to prison sentences and the lucky ones receiving the help they need,” Sheldon said.
Sheldon is the recipient of a 2018 USA Fellowship from United States Artists and was named one of the "25 New Faces of Independent Film" by Filmmaker Magazine and one of "50 People Changing the South" by Southern Living Magazine. She has been commissioned by Frontline PBS, PBS NewsHour, Center for Investigative Reporting, New York Times Op-Docs, TEDWomen, People Magazine, Lifetime, Field of Vision, Mashable, The Washington Post and The Bitter Southerner. She has appeared on NPR, The Daily Show, Meet the Press, The Washington Post, Mother Jones and more.
This event is sponsored by Appalachian's Department of Cultural, Gender and Global Studies, Department of Social Work, University Documentary Film Services, the College of Arts and Sciences and the Beaver College of Health Sciences. For more information, contact Mark Nunes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Department of Cultural, Gender and Global Studies
The Department of Cultural, Gender and Global Studies offers degrees in global studies, interdisciplinary studies, and gender, women’s and sexuality studies. The department is also home to Watauga Residential College, an interdisciplinary, alternative general education program. The department promotes creative and imaginative engagement in cross-disciplinary investigation of complex systems and problems. Learn more at https://cgg.appstate.edu.
About the Department of Social Work
The Department of Social Work in Appalachian State University’s Beaver College of Health Sciences offers both undergraduate and graduate programs, and is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. The undergraduate social work program prepares students for generalist social work practice, and graduates can be found in social service agencies, hospitals, schools, hospices, criminal justice systems and mental health facilities. The graduate program teaches students advanced clinical skills for their work as social service managers and leaders, or clinicians who provide services to individuals, families and communities. Learn more at https://socialwork.appstate.edu.
About University Documentary Film Services
The University Documentary Film Services program teaches, engages in, and presents documentary work grounded in collaborative local and global partnerships that use photography, film/video, audio, and narrative writing to capture and convey memory, life, research, theory, and culture. Learn more at https://doc.appstate.edu
About the College of Arts and Sciences
The College of Arts and Sciences is home to 16 academic departments, one stand-alone academic program, two centers and one residential college. These units span the humanities and the social, mathematical and natural sciences. The College of Arts and Sciences aims to develop a distinctive identity built upon our university's strengths, traditions and unique location. The college’s values lie not only in service to the university and local community, but through inspiring, training, educating and sustaining the development of its students as global citizens. There are approximately 6,100 student majors in the college. As the college is also largely responsible for implementing Appalachian's general education curriculum, it is heavily involved in the education of all students at the university, including those pursuing majors in other colleges. Learn more at https://cas.appstate.edu.
About the Beaver College of Health Sciences
Appalachian's Beaver College of Health Sciences opened in 2010 as the result of a strategic university commitment to significantly enhance the health and quality of life for individuals, families and communities in North Carolina and beyond. In 2015, the college was named for an Appalachian alumnus and pioneer in the health care industry — Donald C. Beaver ’62 ’64 of Conover. The college offers 10 undergraduate degree programs and six graduate degree programs, which are organized into six departments: Communication Sciences and Disorders; Health and Exercise Science; Nursing; Nutrition and Health Care Management; Recreation Management and Physical Education; and Social Work. Learn more at https://healthsciences.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System, Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.