Rebekkah was a dancer who injured her ankle. After receiving surgery, a doctor prescribed her opioid painkillers.
She then became addicted.
“There’s no caution, no red flag at all,” she says. It was, ‘take this to feel better,’ and that was it.”
However, Rebekkah’s story goes beyond the norm. She starred in a PSA chronicling her three-day opioid detox, while telling her story. Not only is it a video PSA, but back in June, her detox was also screened live in a large video display on a New York City street corner.
“I want the next girl who gets injured dancing to know what the future could hold by the next decision that she makes because that decision I made to go to the doctors and to not get the surgery, that’s the worst decision I made in my whole life.”
The Truth Initiative
A new PSA campaign from the Truth Initiative, which has produced 20 years of anti-tobacco public health messaging, released the opioid PSA. The Ad Council, and the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, aims to show that opioid addiction can start in the most unexpected places. It shines a light on the importance of treatment and to educate the public on how opioid intake can lead to a harmful addiction. More than 100 people die in the United States from misuse of the substance and opioid users can start being dependent on the drug after five days of usage.
“Treatment Box” displayed five unfiltered days in the life of Rebekkah, a 26-year-old heroin and opioid addict, as she detoxed on camera.
“I know these next few days aren’t going to be pretty,” she says in the six-minute video. “And I am the most camera shy person in the world. But if making my detox public is going to help somebody—even just one person—I’m all for it.”
The opioid detox live stream showed Rebekkah fast-forwards through the early days of her detox. Scenes of her shaky limbs, nausea, vomiting, and insomnia played out on a three-dimensional installation at Astor Place in New York City in June. Passerbys stopped to watch Rebekkah in her room, huddled in bed, and keeled over in pain.
Throughout the stream are short interviews where the 26-year-old explains she was prescribed opiates at the age of 14. Addiction quickly followed, and two months later she tried heroin.
“My Mind Doesn’t Tell Me Anything Nice”
“I feel like I’m coming back from the dead,” she says on day three of her opioid detox live stream. “I have a lot of self-image issues. My mind doesn’t tell me anything nice,” says Rebekkah.
But as the days go by, things start looking better. “Each day that passes I feel more and more alive,” she said.
A long-form of the film showed the profound effect the initiative had on audiences. Before beginning the campaign, the organizations met with a medical ethicist to determine if the project should move forward. Rebekkah was filmed around the clock for five days in a mini-treatment center that was created for the shoot. The installation ran in New York for a single day.
Opioid Detox Live Stream
In exchange for taking part, Rebekkah is received a free year of treatment. She entered a facility after filming. She is still in treatment and is reportedly doing well.
“If making my detox public is going to help somebody, I’m all for it,” Rebekkah noted..
The Truth About Opioids is a collaboration between Truth Initiative, the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Ad Council to prevent and reduce the misuse of opioids among youth and young adults, destigmatize addiction and highlight the importance of treatment. The campaign is designed to help young people understand the facts about opioids, the risk of addiction and the crucial role they can play in solving the crisis within their communities.