Independent Lens: Love in the Time of Fentanyl

Independent Lens: Love in the Time of Fentanyl

Mon, 02/13/2023 - 10:00pm - 11:00pm

Ronnie Grigg inside the Overdose Prevention Society site in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside

Credit: Colin Askey

As the number of overdose deaths in Vancouver, Canada reaches an all-time high, employees and volunteers at the Overdose Prevention Society take matters into their own hands.

As the number of overdose deaths in Vancouver, Canada reaches an all-time high, the Overdose Prevention Society (OPS) opens its doors—a renegade supervised drug consumption site that primarily employs active and former drug users. Its staff and volunteers save lives and give hope to a marginalized community as the overdose crisis rages throughout Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

Independent Lens: Love in the Time of Fentanyl, airing Monday, February 13 at 10 p.m. on WXXI-TV, follows Sarah, an activist who opened OPS without government approval, as she strives to raise awareness about the crisis; Trey, a graffiti artist and former heroin user who spends his days reversing overdoses and memorializing lost community members; Ronnie, a seasoned frontline worker nicknamed “Narcan Jesus,” struggling with burnout from the demanding work and witnessing so much loss; Norma, a much-loved Indigenous elder in the community, who cooks meals for the staff when she’s not administering naloxone; and Dana, an active fentanyl user who constantly reverses overdoses at work while struggling with his own drug use.

With loved ones dying in unprecedented numbers, the staff at OPS does whatever it takes to save lives and find radical new ways out of the devastating but widely ignored crisis ravaging their community. Love in the Time of Fentanyl is an intimate, observational look beyond the stigma of people who use drugs, revealing the courage of those facing tragedy in a neighborhood often referred to as ground zero of the overdose crisis. Learn 

Watch the Trailer: 

This film is part of the New York State Public Media Overdose Epidemic, an initiative funded by the New York State Education Department that has called on NYS public media organizations to create a multi-platform project to help address mental health and addiction throughout the state. The project includes broadcast offerings, online content, and special events, like this screening. The NYS stations will also work to create comprehensive digital teaching tools, online learning, and essential instructional content.