December 4th, 2022

We may be a little late to these Everyday Superheroes but their ability to personify the Four Foundations of FIERCE means we must celebrate them.  Heroin (E) is an Oscar nominated and Emmy winning movie available now on Netflix that follows three women – a firefighter, a judge and a street missionary who are battling West Virginia’s opioid crisis.  The movie gives us an unfiltered look into how these women exercise amazing courage, resilience, and empathy along with their tireless work-ethic (all the 4 Foundations) daily to make a difference in their community. 

Their community is Huntington, West Virginia which has been called, the overdose Capital of America.  The overdose rate in Huntington is 10 times the National average.  It is estimated that 10% of the community is addicted to heroin. 

The women all share a deep commitment to improving the lives of absolutely every addict they meet.  Their optimism left us optimistic about what feels like an overwhelming crisis in America.  The pain pills to heroin to fentanyl progression is widespread and potentially one of the largest domestic issues in the US.  These women provide a uniquely female approach that we believe should be celebrated and studied for broader application across the states and internationally.

The ”star” of the show in our opinion is Jan Rader, Deputy Chief at the Huntington Fire Department.  She is FIERCE AF and tells the interviewer “I’m built for this.”  She is a first responder on most if not all overdoses in the county and a trained nurse.   She is a huge advocate for use of Naloxone to save people’s lives.  One is struck by her empathy throughout the story.  She cares deeply for the people she sees suffering with addiction.  She is willing to do whatever it takes as many times as it takes to turn their lives around.  She is unapologetic in her quest to save people.  She stands out from others in her profession and community as it is clear some of her peers don’t care at all about repeat addicts. She has saved countless lives and she feels lucky to be in the position to do so.  What a Superhero.

Judge Patricia Keller of the Cabell County Drug Court is confident and kind.  Her focus is on explaining to convicted drug abusers how exactly to get their lives back on track.  She speaks directly, with empathy and delivers appropriate consequences when the convicted do not follow her rules.  She is the first person to celebrate someone achieving milestones on their way to sobriety but will not hesitate to send someone to jail who has fallen back into addiction. 

Finally, Necia Freeman is a street missionary with the Brown Bag Ministry. She is committed to making a difference in the lives of prostitutes who everyone else has forgotten or ignores.  She makes excellent points throughout the movie that if we don’t want prostitution then the johns must face consequences like the women do.  She is right to call attention to this inequity in society.  She never misses a Wednesday night drive through the parts of town where she knows these women will be.  She provides food and a willingness to bring the women into rehab right that minute if the woman wants help.

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