Untreated & Unheard: The Addiction Crisis in America Review

Untreated & Unheard: The Addiction Crisis in America is a powerful documentary streaming for free on Pluto TV that addresses the opioid epidemic and the families it affects, from the inception of this human catastrophe to what progress is underway to address it.

The film opens with a sobering statistic — someone dies every 11 minutes from an opioid overdose in the United States. Counting all the affected adds up to the death toll of September 11th, happening every ten days. From there, it delves into the root causes of addiction, including social isolation, trauma, and the over-prescription of painkillers by doctors. Featuring interviews with medical professionals, addiction specialists, and families affected by the drug epidemic, it provides a comprehensive look at the complex nature of this crisis.

At GateHouse Treatment, we believe in destigmatizing drug addiction and treating the affected with the humanity and dignity they deserve. The path to recovery is long but worthwhile, and families should feel supported during every step of the process. This article will spotlight the issues raised by Untreated & Unheard: The Addiction Crisis in America and cover how we can treat addiction as a health crisis.

1. The Opioid Crisis and Its Roots

For almost every family interviewed in the film, the roots of their addiction had striking similarities, an injury led to a legal prescription of opioids by a doctor. A decade or even twenty years ago, people didn’t have the resources to understand the danger of opioids truly. The facts we are all familiar with today about overprescription, addictive potential, and the chance of overdose weren’t readily available when the crisis took shape.

Families figured that if a doctor recommends it, it must be safe. A woman describes refilling an opiate prescription for her daughter thrice with no pushback from the doctor while recognizing in hindsight that her daughter had underlying issues unrelated to physical pain that she was attempting to medicate. From there, some lives began to spiral. The introduction of the synthetic opioid fentanyl in the 2010s made the prospect of drug addiction even more threatening.

2. Fentanyl, The Killer

Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin, in addition to being more addictive and more lethal. It was approved for medical use in the United States in 1968 but has recently grown in popularity. It is a white powder, which makes it easy to mix into heroin or cocaine and manufacture into counterfeit pills.

Fentanyl poisoning can occur from taking the drug alone or accidentally ingesting it when mixed with other drugs. It is a depressant, slowing the respiratory system and causing hypoxia. The brain stops receiving oxygen during an overdose, and the user goes into a coma that may lead to death. Compared to other drugs, it only takes a small amount of fentanyl to suffer the lethal effects.

Fentanyl served as the kindling that made the unfolding drug crisis in America catch flame. Drug overdose rates rose from 12,122 in 2015 to 79,117 in 2022. Although the number of fatalities has been decreasing since 2020, the crisis is not yet close to being under control.

3. The Stigmatizing of Drug Addiction

One of the most striking shared traits of the families featured in Untreated & Unheard: The Addiction Crisis was their shock at what they described as “the system.” The system encompasses everything and touches every facet of an addict’s life. From access to information, criminal justice and the courts, healthcare, and bad rehabilitation experiences, it also touches upon every part of the family.

Of all mental health issues in America, drug addiction is the only one consistently criminalized. A woman described the shock of seeing her son overdose and transported to the hospital. Immediately upon waking up from a near-death experience, he was handcuffed and carried off by police. The man described above was Rory, who first ran in with the law at 18 for non-violent third-degree drug possession. He never got out of the system and died at 29.

The punitive first approach to drug therapy makes it difficult to come clean, seek treatment, and improve. Parole regimes send an addict to jail if a drug test comes back positive, further fueling their isolation, one of the precursors to worsening addiction. The system extends to juveniles, who are awash in a teenage drug industry of boarding houses infamous for their irresponsible, abusive, and torturous practices. Sometimes they only get one phone call home a week. It affects single mothers who go to rehab and get clean only to discover that Child Protective Services won’t let them see their children.

The system includes healthcare companies and uncaring rehab centers that are just in it for the numbers, kicking patients out to the streets for the smallest infraction without as much as a phone call to their family members to pick them up. The system splits up partners concerned about attending the same addiction center together. Also guilty is the government, which allows for the unregulated prescription of Opioids but strongly controls medication-assisted therapy with lifesaving drugs like Methadone.

Luckily and with much advocacy, this reality is beginning to change. Black families torn apart by overzealous addiction policing are starting to speak to white families now suffering from the same. The new message across America is about hope, that recovery is possible and that this medical emergency requires a nation’s commitment. Harm prevention has reached unheard levels of public awareness, and with much work, this is another drug crisis we can overcome together.

GateHouse Treatment and Recovery

Untreated & Unheard: The Addiction Crisis in America stresses that what addicts need is a compassionate, individualized treatment that addresses who they are as a person, not as a number on an insurance sheet or a set of symptoms. At Gatehouse Treatment, we are holistic wellness experts dedicated to ensuring your path to sobriety is supported and enduring. Our treatment starts with outpatient, intensive outpatient, or partial hospitalization programs, partnered with sober homes to give you a relaxing environment for recovery.

We also offer innovative therapies to get your mind and body working to help you. Finally, aftercare in several programs to ensure you stay committed to your goals. It’s never too late to work toward a better you. Call (855) 448-3588 or contact us through our website to make a change.

GateHouse Treatment Editorial Staff
Latest posts by GateHouse Treatment Editorial Staff (see all)

Let Us Help

Call (855) 448-3588 or complete the form below. We are available 24/7.

All Calls are Free and Confidential

"(Required)" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Does My Health Insurance Cover Treatment?

Take a closer look​ for a free, confidential consultation. A specialist will follow up and explain how we can help.​ We are here for you 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Don’t wait.

Get started on the road to recovery

Find out how we can help you starting today!
Scroll to Top