A new film entitled GATEWAY presents the story of three families inadvertently impacted by opioid addiction that began with a prescription to manage pain after surgery. The documentary, which premiered at a private screening at Helen Mills Theater in New York City on October 16, is presented by Choices Matter – a national movement designed to educate and empower patients to have proactive discussions with their clinicians about available non-opioid options for managing postsurgical pain.
The deeply-moving, 40-minute film is thoughtfully told through the eyes and hearts of everyday American families who were introduced to opioids after surgery and go on to battle with addiction – either personally or as a caregiver to a loved one. The result is a humanizing and eye-opening look into the struggles that can be caused by legal opioid prescriptions when the dangers of these medications are not properly understood. The film features a woman who faced addiction following a C-section, a high school athlete who struggled with opioids after suffering sports-related injuries, a young woman who has battled addiction for over a decade, and a clinician who has made it his mission to reduce opioid prescribing after surgery.
“My involvement in this film was important on many levels,” said Dr. Richard Chudacoff, an obstetrician and gynecologist who has performed nearly 2,000 C-sections and is featured in the film. “No clinician ever wants to see a patient suffer, not with pain—and certainly not with addiction. By combining available, effective non-opioid medications we can manage our patients’ pain after surgery with little to no exposure to opioids and their associated risks. I have seen the positive impact this has on patient recovery firsthand and I’ve made it my mission to help spread the word that low-opioid and opioid-free surgery is possible.”
Research shows that despite national efforts to end the country’s opioid epidemic, patients continue to receive large quantities of opioids for postsurgical pain, placing them at risk for potentially severe downstream consequences including addiction or dependence. In fact, a 2017 report found that nearly 1-in-10 patients prescribed opioids to manage postsurgical pain went on to persistent use of the medications, meaning they were still taking opioids three to six months after their procedure. However, there are safe and effective non-opioid options available that can reduce or eliminate the need for opioids and their associated risks.
In addition to the documentary, Choices Matter is launching a companion Public Service Announcement (PSA) in partnership with the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA). CADCA is the nation’s leading substance abuse prevention organization, representing more than 5,000 community-based coalitions across the United States who work to create safe, healthy and drug-free communities.
The PSA includes spotlights from the documentary participants and encourages people to watch GATEWAY and learn more about the non-opioid options available to manage pain after surgery.
“We are honored to partner with the Choices Matter program on this PSA to educate our communities about the risks associated with opioids and the availability of effective non-opioid options to treat pain after surgery,” said General Arthur T. Dean, Chairman & CEO of CADCA. “This message aligns strategically with our mission at CADCA, and we know that to stem this crisis, we must start before addiction begins and focus on prevention. We are eager to share this film with our community coalitions to continue to spread this important message with everyday people at risk of developing an addiction to opioids.”