Some would say Laguna Niguel residents Jodi Barber and Christine Brant are saints but the women aren't after sainthood. Their goal is to create awareness about a spreading problem—prescription drug overdoses.
In Orange County, one of the wealthiest counties in the country, young people between the ages of 15 and 25 are not only becoming addicted to prescription drugs, they are overdosing on them faster than a parent can say Oxycontin or Opana.
In an effort to educate teenagers and parents, the women have worked tirelessly for almost one year to create Overtaken, the powerful 28-minute documentary made for high schools across the country about the prescription drug problem. The short film consists of several young adults sharing their heartfelt stories about their own drug problems, as well as candid interviews with emergency room doctors, and rehab counselors.
The was a huge success, just as the first was, as more than 300 people—young and old—came out to see the film. Many left in tears and were clearly moved by what they saw.
"It was one of the most powerful films I have seen and it really made me think about what's going on in our communities," said Sherri, a teen as she exited the film.
Her friend, Meredith, added, "I've had friends hooked on prescription drugs and it's frightening and heartbreaking to see them go down that road. I think this film should be shown in every school across the country."
According to Barber, who lost her own son, Jarrod, 19, to an accidental overdose of prescription drugs in 2010, "Overdosing is occurring in record numbers. There have been more than in those ranging in age from 15 to 25 in the last three years in South Orange County. It is an t now.”
Both women set out seven months ago to begin making the documentary when Brant contacted Barber after seeing one of around town; the posters display photos of local teens who have died of prescription drug overdoses. Shop owners around the city have them posted to their windows, also hoping to send Barber's message to the masses.
"Christine offered to help in any way possible," Barber said. "We teamed up and brainstormed ideas on how to spread the message. We thought a documentary would be the best way to educate the kids.”
Both women say that first and foremost, they want the film to be seen in local schools, but hope Overtaken will eventually spread to schools across the country.
“It is not just about saying 'no' to drugs. We need to educate teenagers about what is really out there,” Brant said.