A documentary on the epidemic has been released in a bid to tackle the issue, but critics say it paints a false picture of the epidemic.
The documentary, titled ‘Pace’, focuses on a group of teens and adults in their teens and 20s who have been struggling with addiction for years.
“I feel like there’s a lot of stereotypes about young people who have an addiction.
I’ve been in that position and I know a lot more people who are struggling with this,” says 18-year-old Ryan.
Ryan is one of more than 100 teens and young adults in the film who have shared their stories of substance abuse and the negative effects of the opioid epidemic.
In a video released this week, Ryan, who has a rare form of autism, explains how the epidemic affects his life.
“We have to have a conversation.
We can’t have a discussion that we’re not able to talk about,” he said.
Ryan says he wants to create a movement to educate young people about the dangers of drug addiction and their dependence on opioids.
“People need to understand that this is a chronic disease and there’s no cure,” he says.
“It’s not like cancer or diabetes where you can just take off the meds and be cured.”
The video for ‘Paces’ has received widespread critical acclaim online.
However, some critics have also questioned the quality of the footage.
“This is the same documentary I was looking at, so it’s going to be the same footage, right?
They’re just not showing the footage I want,” says 25-year old Brittany Cavanaugh.”
And the problem is, there are no clips in the documentary, right?” asks Cavanaugh in the video.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) says that’s not the case.
“There is a video in this film that captures a conversation between two teens and a young person about drug addiction,” says NAACP spokesperson Jessica Johnson.
“But the footage does not show them speaking with one another about how they have been dealing with addiction.
There’s no conversation about it, and that’s exactly what the NAACP is concerned about.”
But Brittany Coughlin says that she and her peers have been treated differently.
“When you are in the middle of that struggle, you need to see the real you,” she says.
Brittany says she’s seen some positive changes in her life since she and other teens shared their experiences in the ‘Pacs’ documentary.
“My life has been pretty much the same.
I’m not getting laid anymore.
I just feel a lot better about myself,” she said.”
Because it’s really difficult to talk to other people about this.
I was just really struggling.”
But some critics say that while there’s been positive changes, it’s still too early to talk openly about the drug epidemic.
“To my knowledge, this film has never been shown before, and it’s a very big problem, not only in the US but globally,” says NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue.
“If you have a kid in your life that is addicted, it doesn’t matter how much you talk about it or how much money you make.
It’s really not something that you want to discuss.”
In a statement to MTV News, NAACP President Hogue said the film was a critical step forward in addressing the issue of drug abuse and dependence.
“The NAACP will continue to work closely with organizations and advocates across the country to advance solutions that protect and empower individuals, families and communities impacted by the opioid crisis,” she added.
“In particular, NAAC will continue working to prevent the passage of laws that would criminalize the use of prescription opioids and expand access to safe and effective medication alternatives to these medications.”