There is still a stigma towards opioid addiction which prevents others from getting help if they are afraid to talk about it. Using film as a medium to bring attention to a disease that people are afraid to acknowledge can be one of the first steps to realizing you need help. A 17 year-old wrote and co-directed a PSA with the goal in mind to be to get medically assisted treatment and that addiction can happen to anyone.

18 year-old Brinkley Smithers, who will be attending NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts to study film, is the granddaughter of the founder of the Christopher D. Smithers Foundation. The Smithers Foundation was founded in 1952 to fight substance abuse which was primarily alcoholism but has for the past four years focused on opioid addiction. She made a four minute short PSA film called “Hey Charlie” a year ago which shows a 17 year-old boy living in the suburbs who goes from a star athlete with good grades to abusing prescription pills. The goal of this ad was to promote pharmacology-based treatments for opioid addiction. She believes in using anti-craving drugs like methadone to keep yourself clean instead of relying solely on 12 step or other faith-based programs.

Smithers got the idea when she volunteered at the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (LICADD), also founded by her grandfather. She learned the severity of how opioid addiction affects families and the stigma that still surrounds addiction. She wanted people who watch this PSA to know that addiction can affect anyone and not just a particular type of person. That it can happen to anyone doing well who just got hold of the wrong drug at the wrong time. Smithers shared the script with Steve Class, the executive director of LICADD. He was connected to Robert Smyth, the director at Heavy Pictures.

This video got more than three million views on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Smithers hopes for teens and adults to talk openly about opioid use and addiction and to not be afraid to come forward and get help. Smithers is currently at the brainstorming phase of another PSA with a focus on effective forms of evidence-based, medicine-assisted treatment. This should inspire other teenagers to use their gifts and skills to be able to bring awareness towards the true horrors of opioid addiction and lead people in the right direction.

Located in downtown Midland, The Springboard Center’s mission is to offer programs and services to treat alcohol and drug addiction treatment using an evidence based curriculum, 12 step programs, diet, nutrition, exercise, emotional, mental and spiritual development for a long recovery. For more information, please call us at 432-620-0255 as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.