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Film premiere raises funds for Hope Initiative

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State Attorney General John Stein gives his remarks before the documentary showing of ‘The Cost Of Living High’ Thursday at N.C. Wesleyan College.

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BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Friday, July 13, 2018

A man drives down a local street, casually talking about his addiction and using his seat belt as a tourniquet while shooting heroin into the veins on his left arm.

That's the opening scene of the powerful documentary “The Cost of Living High,” which premiered Thursday night at the Dunn Center for the Performing Arts at N.C. Wesleyan College.

All of the proceeds of the movie's debut will go to the Hope Initiative, a local program to help opioid addicts.

Local filmmaker Robert Michael Morris, Robbie to family and friends, independently directed and produced the documentary.

Morris, technical director for WHIG-TV, said it felt good to see so many people come out to watch his film.

But he couldn't watch it with them, a tearful Morrison said in the lobby while the film played in the theater.

"It's too emotional," Morrison said. "Some of the people in the film are here tonight. I've just seen so many people close to me hurt by this."

State Attorney General Josh Stein, keynote speaker at the event, said North Carolina has lost 13,000 people to opioid overdoses since 1999. He called the tragedies a scourge.

Stein said it is great to see such a proactive approach in the Twin Counties.

"What you're doing in Nash and Edgecombe counties is saving lives and getting attention all over the nation," Stein said.

Time, resources and the right message will convince teens to avoid opiates, Stein said, citing successful initiatives against teen smoking, teen drunken driving, teenage pregnancy and teen use of seatbelts.

Of the tens of thousands of opioid addicts in the country, only an estimated 20 percent received treatment last year, Stein said.

"The biggest help would be for North Carolina to accept Medicaid expansion," Stein said. "Then some of the millions of dollars North Carolina pays into Medicaid would come back to us."

When a drug illness leads to criminality, the answer is stop the drug use.

Stein said he is working with the state's agencies to stem the flow of heroin and fentanyl into North Carolina.

Stein praised Nashville Police Chief Tom Bashore for starting the Hope Inititive, a nonprofit program that helps addicts find treatment options and avoid entering the court system.

To date, the program has helped more than 400 addicts, Bashore announced at the event. He said people come to the Hope Initiative broken and desperate and many have turned a corner and are no longer committing crimes to feed their addiction.

A Who's Who in local law enforcement attended the event with many of them participating in a panel discussion about the opioid crisis in the Twin Counties. Present were Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone, Edgecombe County Sheriff Clee Atkinson, Rocky Mount Interim Police Chief Willie Williams, District Attorney Robert Evans, Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Quentin Sumner, District Court Judge Pell Cooper and more.

For more information about the film and how to view it, visit www.thecostoflivinghighfilm.com.

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