Prescription Drugs

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"Out of Reach" Toolkit
The Medicine Abuse Project has developed the "Out of Reach" Toolkit to help spread the word about medicine abuse. This link will take you to a page with instructions on downloading the full-length (25-minute) documentary, as well as all the instructions and documents you need to screen the film and use it to have a meaningful conversation about teen medicine abuse. 
Notes about the film:
  • Please note that the intended audience for “Out of Reach” is parents and concerned adults – it is not intended for teens.
  • Please also be advised that access to this film is intended only for the person or entity to which it is addressed and may not be distributed to anyone other than the person or entity to which it is addressed.


"Legal" but Deadly: Abusing Prescription Drugs (cc)

Prescription drugs like OxyContin, Ritalin, Vicodin, Xanax and codeine based cough syrup are making headlines around the nation as teens continue to abuse these "legal" drugs by crushing the pills and snorting or injecting the powder or drinking the liquid. Studies continue to offer evidence of an emerging problem with OxyContin and Ritalin addiction among young people. Sadly, too many teens don't realize how dangerous their experimentation can be. This timely video highlights several recent cases of teens that became addicted to prescription drugs and the resulting consequences. Program highlights kids' false beliefs about these drugs and the all too common belief that because these drugs are prescribed they are therefore safe. On camera physicians also describe the severe side effects of prescription drugs and how these drugs seriously compromise the brain's functions. The video makes clear that any misuse of a legal drug is not only illegal but, can also be fatal.

Preview a three minute clip here: link

Grades 7 - College           19 min.           2005           DVD-5038

Grades 7 - College
Abusing Over-the-Counter Drugs (cc)

Teen drug abuse isn't limited to illicit drugs. Many OTC (over-the-counter) drugs are misused by kids-from cold remedies to pain killers to diet pills. This program explores the most common abuses of OTC drugs and shows the chemical, biological and psychological damage that can result from abusing these ordinary drugs. Particular attention is paid to DXM, the powerful medication linked to recent deaths of young people across the country. DXM is a legal drug found in many OTCs, but it has the same qualities as drugs considered much more dangerous like heroin. The cold tablet form of this drug is the basis of a new and dangerous form of OTC drug abuse called skittling, which can also result in coma or even death. The dangers of this kind of abuse are brought home through the tragic story of Jennifer Darling, a high school student whose apparent experimentation with the drug was a cause in her own death. Students will also hear a no-nonsense message from a district attorney describing the severe legal consequences teens can receive if found driving or committing a crime while under the influence of these substances. The program also teaches viewers how to carefully read and understand OTC drug labels for active ingredients and potential overdosage. 

Grades 7 - College           20 min.           2005           DVD-5073

Grades 7 - College
Behind the Orange Curtain: The Real Story of What Is Happening in Orange County, California

"Behind the Orange Curtain," a full-length feature documentary produced by Natalie Costa and directed by Brent Huff, delves deep into the prescription drug problem afflicting affluent Orange County, which touts the OC as having more rehab centers per capita than any other county in the country. Of the 400 films representing 50 countries at this year's Newport Beach Film Festival to begin April 26, Film Fund chose "Behind the Orange Curtain" as one of "five films to see."

High School/Adult    85 min.   2012   DVD-5026


Behind the Orange Curtain: The Real Story of What Is Happening in Orange County, California - Educational Edition

"Behind the Orange Curtain," this edited for education version of a feature documentary produced by Natalie Costa and directed by Brent Huff, delves deep into the prescription drug problem afflicting affluent Orange County, which touts the OC as having more rehab centers per capita than any other county in the country. Of the 400 films representing 50 countries at this year's Newport Beach Film Festival to begin April 26, Film Fund chose "Behind the Orange Curtain" as one of "five films to see."

High School/Adult   52:11 min.   2012   DVD-5059

High School/Adult
Beyond Opiates

This video presents a fresh perspective on the science of pain and how it influences recovery from opioid dependency. The content focuses on a new paradigm for understanding chronic pain, showing how the extended use of prescription painkillers increases the sensitivity of the nerve cells thereby magnifying pain (hyperalgesia, hyperpathia, allodynia.) Interviews with recovering addicts and treatment professionals illustrate the challenges opiate addiction creates and presents a message of hope and encouragement for clients to examine recovery in light of this new view of treating dependency and pain.


Beyond Opiates - The Evolving Science of Pain and Addiction - A Graphic Novella

Adult   33 min.   2013   DVD-419


Beyond Opiates: The Evolving Science of Pain and Addiction – Graphic Novella

This graphic interpretation of the information presented in our film "Beyond Opiates" provides easy to understand and relatable information about the science of pain and opiate addiction. With 40 hand illustrated pages, it is a perfect tool for educators and treatment providers seeking an engaging and entertaining way to introduce people to the science of opiate addiction. The novella demonstrates the information from our feature film "Beyond Opiates" in an easy to understand and accessible format that will educate and open pathways for discussion. Some of the topics featured include natural pain relievers vs. pain killers, tolerance and hyperalgesia, withdrawal and PAWS, understanding craving and more.

40 pages   2015   B-419 

Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict - available online

In an effort to combat the growing epidemic of prescription drug and heroin abuse, the FBI and DEA have released "Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict," a documentary aimed at educating students and young adults about the dangers of addiction.

Background information

Discussion Guide

Watch Video

High School/Adult   49:08 min.   2016  DVD-5068

High School/Adult
Drug Education for Teens/Tranquilizers & Other Depressants, v. 12 (cc)

Tranquilizers are prescription drugs that belong to a group of substances known as depressants. While they have been used legally throughout history to induce sleep, relieve stress and reduce anxiety, these drugs are easily abused and are no safer than street drugs. Tranquilizers & Other Depressants introduces students to the history of drugs like barbiturates, benzodiazepines and other substances known as "date rape drugs." Compelling animations explain the effects they have on the chemistry of the brain and the body. Students will get a clear understanding of the consequences of abuse and dependence through user interviews and expert testimony, as well as learning about the treatment options that are open to those in need. 

Grades 7 & up        23 min.       2003      DVD-82   Spanish Language Track

Grades 7 & up
High on Painkillers: Addiction and Overdose (cc)

The truth about the abuse of prescribed painkillers is startling. Abused painkillers such as Oxycodone, Vicodin and methadone are responsible for more deaths than cocaine and heroin combined. According to the Centers for Disease Control, prescription painkillers have surpassed car crashes as the leading cause of accidental deaths in the United States. Students learn the dynamics of painkiller addiction and abuse through the personal stories of teens who have been hooked on legal pain killers. These teens describe the downward spiral of addiction that can eventually lead to death by overdose. Former users, physicians and drug education experts communicate the hard facts to viewers including how difficult it is for users to cope with withdrawal symptoms such as depression, anxiety, shakiness and lack of energy. Preview a three minute clip:

Grades 7 - College           21 min.           2013           DVD-5008

Grades 7 - College
Pharm Parties: A Lethal Mix (cc)

One of the newest and most frightening trends in teen drug experimentation are so-called "pharm parties"-where teens gather at someone's home, drop an array of pharmaceuticals (like Vicodin, Oxycontin or Xanax) into a bowl, then consume handfuls of this dangerous "trail mix." This eye-opening program allows viewers to hear from teens who nearly died after participating in pharm parties, as well as medical experts who identify the dangers of taking any medicines not specifically prescribed for you. Narcotics officers with first hand experience of pharm party overdoses give vivid descriptions of documented incidents. Viewers also learn what really happens when a human stomach is pumped as a last resort to avoid drug overdose. Program clearly demonstrates the extreme dangers of this rapidly escalating form of prescription drug abuse.

Preview a three- minute clip

Grades 7 - College            24 min.           2009            DVD-5125

Grades 7 - College
Prescription & OTC Drugs: Misuse & Abuse

This video is an examination of legal drugs and the pharmacological principles that determine effects, both desired and damaging. The video explores the idea that any substance can be a therapeutic drug, a psychoactive drug, or a poison, depending on the dose or interactions with other drugs. By visualizing the concepts of drug pharmacology, such as absorption, tissue dependence, and especially addiction, the dangers of misuse of specific drugs can be studied. The video focuses on legal psychoactive drugs, such as Vicodin and OxyContin, and the difficulties when trying to control pain with drugs. It also recognizes the problems with over-the-counter drugs, including cold and cough remedies, diet pills, and herbal supplements.
High School - Adult            35 min.           2004            DVD-339

High School - Adult
Prescription Drugs Update (cc)

This program introduces a diverse group of young people who share their experiences about their prescription drug abuse addictions and the consequences they have suffered. The participants abused various Rx drugs: pain relievers (OxyContin and Vicodin), depressants (Xanax and Valium) and stimulants (Concerta and Adderall). The stories of their descent into addiction and destructive life choices powerfully make the point that experimenting with pharmaceuticals “recreationally” without a doctor’s supervision is a prescription for danger. Information and recent statistics on many commonly-abused Rx drugs are provided in addition to these personal narratives. Viewers will be gripped by the video’s strong no-use message, delivered by real teens who admit that they did not realize how powerful these drugs were until it was too late. The stories include their efforts to seek help and pursue recovery from addiction.

Grades 7-College   17 min.   2011   DVD-5149   DVD contains Spanish subtitles
Prescription Drugs: Killing More Than Pain

When America entered the new millennium, it entered a new era in the world of drug abuse. From the streets of the cities to the secluded family homes in the suburbs, prescription drug abuse is a problem that's spilling out of pill bottles and into the lives of millions all across our country. Back in 2000, about 1.5 million Americans abused prescription drugs. Two years later, that number quadrupled - to more than six million. That's a 400% increase. Thousands of people die each year because they overdose on prescription medications. Many abusers think they're an FDA-approved high, while others become addicted after using powerful painkillers to treat legitimate pain. During this broadcast, learn how abusers are getting their drugs and how law enforcement, doctors, and pharmacists are fighting the problem. Hear from recovering addicts, treatment providers, doctors, robbery victims and more. Prescription drugs kill much more than pain. Aired 3/3/05 Includes powerful PSAs at the end of the video.

Adult            60 min.           2005           DVD-420

The Dark Side of Adderall and other “Study Drugs”

When used under a doctor’s guidance, Adderall, Ritalin, and similar medications can be effective in controlling ADHD. But “pressure over grades and competition for college admissions are encouraging students to abuse prescription stimulants,” says The New York Times. Employees—white collar and blue collar alike—abuse them too, for the energy and focus they can provide. And yet the cost of such abuse is high, leading to ever-increasing addiction that produces serious physical and psychological problems. This video follows Randy, a young man with no history of ADHD who began abusing Adderall in high school to improve his performance and, having later dropped out of college, relies on it to enable him to work for days at a time as a handyman for his grandmother. Commentary is provided by Jeffrey Strawn, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and faculty member at the University of Cincinnati, and Richard L. Baum, a psychologist with A.S.A.P., the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program.


Contents: Meet an Addict (2:16)
Effects on the Brain (1:52)
Manipulated ADHD Diagnosis (2:12)
Adderall Binge (1:59)
Effects of Amphetamine Use (1:29)
After Adderall (3:49)
Credits: The Dark Side of Adderall and Other "Study Drugs" (0:46)


Audience: Grades 6 & up      15 min      2014       DVD-5011


Preview a Two Minute Clip of Film Here

Audience: Grades 6 & up
The Hungry Heart

The Hungry Heart provides an intimate look at the often hidden world of prescription drug addiction through the world of Vermont Pediatrician Fred Holmes who works with patients struggling with this disease. Dr. Holmes prescribes suboxone to his patients struggling with prescription drug addiction.  Much like methadone, suboxone helps many addicts in their recovery process– for some taking suboxone is a crucial stepping stone to long term recovery, for others it is a crutch, for others suboxone is abused and diverted onto the street. Through the film we see Dr. Holmes struggling with these challenges and trying to make sense and keep the faith in the midst of many contradictions. Most importantly however, as the film progresses we begin to see the simple but profound connection that Dr. Holmes creates with each patient The film shines a light on the healing power of conversation and the need for connection that many of these young addicts yearn for but do not have in their lives. In addition, the film interviews a number of older addicts who talk about their recovery process juxtaposed against Fred’s patients. The road to recovery is paved with both success stories and strewn with relapses, downfalls and tragic losses. However, through the movie we see the many faces and diverse populations of addiction, and their continued search for a life of recovery.


the Hungry Heart Community Discussion Guide (27 pages)

Adults     93 minutes     2013       DVD-5025   

Uppers and Downers: the Facts About Stimulants and Depressants (cc)

Hard-hitting docudrama presents the facts and provides expert commentary on how abuse of stimulants and depressants harms the brain and the body. After introducing a real teen who thought harmless stimulants would help him pull an all-nighter, an expert talks about the biological impact of using stimulants including caffeine, ADHD prescription medicines Ritalin and Adderall, nicotine, amphetamines, cocaine, crack, and Ecstasy (MDMA). Discusses depressants, including alcohol, barbiturates and sleeping pills, tranquilizers, Rohypnol and GHB. Stresses the highly addictive nature of these drugs as the body's tolerance increases, thus requiring larger and larger doses to get the same effects. The cycle of uppers and downers is examined, as is the escalation from lower level drugs like caffeine, to more perilous drugs.

Preview a three minute clip: here

Grades 7 - College           17 min.            2007              DVD-4199

Grades 7 - College