“A problem worth taking on:” Students at Oconomowoc H.S. watch new documentary on opioid epidemic

OCONOMOWOC -- Students at Oconomowoc High School were some of the first to seen an eye-opening film about opioid addiction. The hope is every high school student in Wisconsin will get the opportunity to watch it.

Straight Forward: The Truth About Addiction

The full-length documentary, produced with partners like Aurora Health Care and the Wisconsin Attorney General's Office aims to empower families and communities to talk about opioid addiction and how to overcome it.

As the upperclassemen settled into theater seats Tuesday, September 19th, younger students like Hannah Duffield were already recapping what they saw.

"I'm glad they talked more about addiction rather than just telling us not to do drugs," Duffield said.

"We are right now in the midst of an epidemic," Madison Musselman said.

Straight Forward: The Truth About Addiction

On Tuesday, every student at Oconomowoc High School watched the new documentary titled "Straight Forward: The Truth About Addiction."

"People that are addicted, their families and their friends, everyone is impacted by it," Duffield said.

Straight Forward: The Truth About Addiction

The film features real-life stories from young people in Wisconsin, who recount their path to addiction and recovery.

"This really was an approach of empowerment for our teens and our community," Skye Tikkanen, addiction specialist and co-producer said.

The documentary was produced by WisconsinEye, a non-profit public affairs cable network based in Madison.

"If we help one young person avoid the trap of addiction, we will have considered this a success," Jon Henkes with WisconsinEye said.

Straight Forward: The Truth About Addiction

The films creators said their point isn't to try to scare people away from drugs, but face the perils of addiction head on and drive home a message of hope that recovery is possible.

"There are people who recover, and this is a tackle-able problem for our community and one worth taking on," Principal Joseph Moylan said.

On Tuesday evening, Oconomowoc High School hosted a public premiere of the documentary, and FOX6's Stephanie Grady moderated a discussion afterwards.

Krista and Kyle Mahan

Krista and Kyle Mahan are foster parents, and were on hand to educate themselves about some of the warning signs of substance abuse.

Straight Forward: The Truth About Addiction

"And how we can help kiddos navigate through the challenges they're going through. Especially in our county -- heroin has become an issue, so a lot of the kids we see are exposed to that," they said.

During the discussion moderated by Grady, panelists said the goal is to show the film to every student across the state, and remind families that recovery is possible.

"Look, we all know drugs are bad. Now let's really face that and try to think of ways or at least approach the subject to take realistic avenues to help people get better," Anthony Wood, producer and director said.

The event also featured a drug take back initiative and community resource fair, which featured representatives from treatment centers and hospitals.