Recovery Boys isn’t your average ordinary documentary. It is, however, your average ordinary story. Or at least it has become so anyway. And that’s not just unfortunate. It’s tragic. Because this is a story no one should ever have to live, let alone tell.
Yet, in a country gripped by the deadly opioid epidemic, this recovery story is one that’s lived by millions of addicts every single day. It’s also one that hundreds of thousands never lived to tell.
Yes, as you’ve probably guessed, Recovery Boys is about addiction treatment. In short, the Netflix original tracks four young opioid addicts through the chutes and ladders of recovery and sober living. What trap doors did they fall through? How far down the descent? And how steep is their climb to sobriety?
As it turns out, their trap door was heroin. Their descent as low as a man can go without being buried. And their climb turns out to be one of Sisyphean proportion.
In between the depths of despair and the summit of sobriety we learn the myriad ways in which addiction can impact the lives of the addict, as well as their loved ones.
Jeff, a three-time felon, is torn between drugs and his two toddlers. Ryan, who was also arrested a few times, went through multiple overdoses and car wrecks. Rush still struggles with being molested when he was six years old. And Adam finds himself back on his mother’s couch after yet another relapse.
Recovery Boys also gives us a glimpse of the copious amounts of blood, sweat and tears that get shed in the quest for sobriety. And how addiction can take the best of us, and make the best of us too.
The addiction treatment takes place at Jacob's Ladder, a farm and rehab center in Aurora, West Virginia, “that attempts to help addicts find value in life beyond drugs.” Despite its name, reports Forbes, “Jacob's Ladder -- named for the biblical connection between heaven and earth described in the book of Genesis -- appears to downplay religion in its mission statement. Rather, the center lists its core values as community, compassion, empathy, accountability, authenticity and honesty.”
The unorthodox rehab facility was founded by Dr Kevin Blankenship, writes The Guardian, “after the retired emergency room doctor was unable to find a long-term recovery program for his son. Said son is now clean and even makes a brief appearance in the film.
The mission of Jacob’s Ladder, notes The Daily Beast, “is to reverse the isolation and despair induced by drug-addicted living.”
“Jacob’s Ladder isn’t just helping addicts get sober; it’s establishing a brotherhood, built upon the kind of solace and affection that drains from men’s lives once they start using.”
Recovery Boys Equation
We at Recovery Boot Camp know all too well the strength to be found in the fellowship of men. That’s why it’s one of our central tenets. We also well know -- and are committed to -- the tenets of compassion, empathy, accountability, authenticity and honesty. And we wholeheartedly applaud Jacob’s Ladder for staying true to these crucial principles of recovery.
We also wholeheartedly applaud Recovery Boys director Elaine McMillion Sheldon. This isn’t our first time heralding the much-heralded filmmaker (we hailed her Oscar-nominated Heroin(e) back in March). And if the way in which Sheldon again gets to the true heart of the opioid crisis is any indication, we’re sure it won’t be our last time either. Sheldon may tell tales from the foothills of the Appalachians, but her stories ring just as true here on the the shores of Florida. As does her motive.
“I make this film not to victimize, pity or make excuses for individuals,” said Sheldon, “but to uplift the stories of people who are actively trying to make change, no matter how big or small.”
And that makes Recovery Boys the sort of heartbreakingly hopeful recovery story everyone should see.