A&E filming docudrama about drug problems

Published 10:21 am Wednesday, February 9, 2011

By Billy Bruce

FRANKLIN FURNACE — The drug problem in Southern Ohio is finally getting some overdue recognition.

According to Cary Williams, Community Justice Director at STAR Community Justice Center, the A&E television network has begun the process of filming a docudrama focusing on the persistent and imminent threats “pill mills” pose to the local community.

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In collaboration with Lisa Roberts, of the Portsmouth City Health Department, as well as the Scioto County Drug Task Force, A&E plans to present its Intervention In-Depth feature sometime in April. Several residents at the STAR facility will also be interviewed this month for the broadcast.

“Intervention In-Depth is a sister show to the network’s Intervention series,” Williams noted, adding that the In-Depth version focuses on communities while Intervention focuses on individuals. “They (the In-Depth producers) came across the drug problem in Scioto County while researching for future broadcasts.”

The piece of research that caught the eyes of Eve Rodrick and Rob Johnson, producer and associate producer, respectively, was a Washington Post article by Andrew Welsh-Huggins in December of 2010 entitled. Ohio county fights extreme pill addiction problem.

That article put a national spotlight on the ease of access to powerful prescription drugs, namely OxyContin, in Scioto County. It also noted the devastation that quickly follows, not only to individuals and their families, but to entire communities.

The natural progression of the eventual broadcast led to STAR.

Courts in the Southern Ohio counties of Lawrence, Scioto, Pike, Pickaway, Clinton, Highland, Brown, Adams and Ross utilize the STAR program in an effort to rehabilitate drug offenders as opposed to simply housing them in prison, where offenders typically learn only to become better criminals prior to their eventual release.

“They are very interested in our Thinking for a Change classes and other behavior modification programming,” Williams said of the A&E attraction to STAR. “Ms. Rodrick said she’s been in many correctional environments but has yet to see any that do what we do here.”

Williams added that the A&E crew is attempting to get newly elected Gov. John Kasich, as well as local and state-level politicians involved in its narrative.

“She (Rodrick) said that the goal is just to shed light on this issue in hopes of bringing about change.”