Dopesick: Fentanyl's Deadly Grip

Dopesick: Fentanyl's Deadly Grip

2016, Drugs  -   30 Comments
Ratings: 8.78/10 from 130 users.

An all-too-commonly prescribed opioid for those suffering from severe chronic pain or undergoing a surgical procedure, fentanyl is now one of the most abused substances on the street. Many times more potent than heroin, it's also significantly more dangerous. As the numbers of the dead continue to escalate, VICE News travels to Canada where they witness the horrors of fentanyl addiction from the inside.

Dopesick: Fentanyl's Deadly Grip is a difficult and bleak viewing experience, but essential. We're introduced to a host of addicts - some of them as young as 14 - whose lives have spiraled out of control. Many are homeless and hopeless. As the drug's effects only last a brief period of time, they spend every waking minute in search of their next fix. In the wake of their addiction lie dashed dreams, ruined relationships and diminished potential.

Most of their supply comes from non-pharmaceutical pills imported from China. But regardless of their origin, their devastating effects are universal. We're shown the extreme physical and mental toll of both the addiction and the inevitable withdrawal process. We see the lengths to which abusers go to score their next dose. Most heartbreakingly, we witness the glimmers of humanity and promise shine through in each of the film's tortured subjects as they contend with a demon they can't escape.

We're also given entry into the community's treatment centers and hear from the compassionate counselors and medical personnel who try desperately to curb the rampant growth of this epidemic. Much like the addicts themselves, these brave professionals are working against seemingly insurmountable odds. Their facilities are often filled to capacity, and most of their patients will not succeed in their attempts to kick their deadly habit. Last year, three hundred people died from fentanyl abuse in Alberta alone. As shocking as this statistic may seem, it's just a microcosm of a wide-sweeping disease which is currently infecting the most diverse and unexpected regions of the world.

A smashingly effective piece of investigative reporting, Dopesick: Fentanyl's Deadly Grip delivers in its deeply human portrayal of a problem that won't go away, and can no longer be dismissed.

Directed by: Shawney Cohen

More great documentaries

30 Comments / User Reviews

Leave a Reply to desmondsdrums Cancel reply

  1. Sque

    A bunch of lies. People don't become fentanyl addicts from getting fentanyl from doctors That is a last line drug that is only given to dying cancer patients. Be But the FBI and deep state want you to think that so they don't have to actually go after dangerous cartels and CIA supported Chinese connections.

  2. SQue

    The fake opiate crisis has hurt chronic pain patients and legitimate doctors the pendulum has gone too far. Addicts love to blame anything outside of themselves so legit safe pharmaceutical drugs are their latest Boogeyman gateway drug. It used to be marijuana. But now that it's nearly impossible to get an opiate prescription from a doctor regardless of the quality of life and functionality it may give you- the opposite of an addict, Alex have just turned to what's easiest which is fentanyl. And the CIA China and cartels love it.

  3. Demi

    Being a user I know all this is so sad and so true

  4. CASUAL 83

    Sad existence

  5. Koray

    one of the best documentaries I have seen in years.It gives a quite honest perspective, how we treat addiction as a society. we blame the victims of addiction as only perpetrators of their downfall but we don't even think about how their life conditions may put them in this situation. or we tend to hate them fiercely in order not to be disillusioned about our desire to believe in a presumption that say life is unfair only to those who deserve. we turn our heads another direction, label the problem as a problem of marginal, outcasted losers while we don't realize that its depths and roots much affects everybody and how we loose as society by allowing one human being more, left alone in the grip of the addiction. we must understand: this is not only some people's problem, this is a social problem which could only be bettered by caring, helping, understanding and compassion. as it is put really well with neuroscience explanations part in the documentary, for the most part, addiction is not a choice but an only available option for survival once the brain has been tricked with these powerful chems.

  6. Carol Phakade

    wow this site must be shared with people, very informative. thank you guys for opening out eyes to ignorance pertaining the addiction and how its really hard and awful for the addicts

  7. Lianne

    Very good documentary! There isn't a lot of these out there! If anyone knows of more like these... jot me a note. TYVM!!!

  8. ed

    here are many reasons for addictions of any kind to start. Usually it begins with wanting some form of acceptance from your parents /peers . You're going to gravitate to a place where this can be found.Irregardless of which country you think offers the biggest freebies,The outcome is the same prison or death.Try to find a starting point and stay
    the course.The amount of self fulfillment is limitless.You want a high this will do it,

  9. Amanda

    I live in Canada and also dealt with a serious fentanyl addiction for 4 years, in which time I gained full knowledge that tax payers money doesn't give you a free ticket to being a junkie or to sobriety. I came closer to death after quitting than on fentanyl and meth due to lack of help and malnutriton. I was literally starving and had to go through it all while surrounded by addicts. In the same room as me and using for my entire first year of getting myself clean. I definitely won't be headed on a vacation anytime in the near future. Although I could seriously use it.

    The type of so called help out there doesn't help nor is it even close to accessible. It's true Canada has pretty good options for medical but the second you tell someone you are an addict and ask for help they stop listening, treat you like garbage and push you toward someone else who then pushes you to someone else.
    Word of advice... Do not go to Canada to be a junkie thinking you'll get help easier. Lol. All you get is judged, ignored and treated as if you will always be an addict. The only way I made it through was by putting all focus into living the life I wanted instead of all focus on recovery. Sounds backward and stupid but the more focus that goes into quitting drugs means the more focus goes to drugs. Which also means your mind is spending most of its time thinking about drugs. Not doing them or doing them, your still thinking about them and the more you think about them the more you want them. Where focus goes energy flows so focusing on mental and physical health and success while putting very little into the recovery part surprisingly worked wonders for me. I dropped a $500-$1000 per day fentanyl habit under horrible circumstances quite easily (outside of the pain of the physical part) and don't have to spend my life fighting a past addiction or living as an addict or ex addict for ever. Instead I'm just me. A person who had a crappy experience for a few years and moved on. No meetings, no one day at a time. I honestly believe people look at recovery the wrong way. The typical, of course, may work for some but people need to learn addicts aren't all the same. For me having to quit while still living in the drug environment rather than removing me from it and going to treatment or jail etc, gave me a better ability to cope with life and times where most would relapse.
    I swear this whole war on drugs is ass backward. People are dying. It's time to actually try listening to what the addict says they need for help instead of telling them what they need. Clearly telling them isn't working too awesome.
    My heart goes out to anyone fighting a serious addiction and anyone who's loved ones are fighting one. There's nothing worse than addiction. Especially fentanyl. The withdrawal takes over your survival instinct and makes you believe getting more fentanyl is a life or death situation. Your brain says you need it to live and yet the truth is that it's what's killing you. Don't give up on anyone fighting addiction. I'm proof that permanent recovery and a normal life again is possible. ?

    1. Crystal

      Thank you for sharing your journey!! I too believe in the way you view life and have had similar experience
      However mine wasn't physical. I was hurting on the inside an crack made it better
      My life is different now, nuch more fulfilling!

    2. Finally free

      Thanks so much for your perspective. It's actually what I need to hear

  10. Shayne

    @scubahalo Sorry but you would never get into Canada. Even if you did you sure as **** would not be able to afford to go to Hawaii off the taxpayers dime. So stay the **** down on whatever hillbilly hick American town you're in.

  11. Tyler

    Desmondsdrums: Anyone out there that says this is fake and blah blah blah you are selfish idiots. I live in Victoria British Columbia the front lines of this epidemic, and at 20 years old I can easily name 10 people I have lost to fentanyl. It isn't a game and is a very real and scary thing and is consuming western canada at an alarming rate. My advice to anybody is to not underestimate this drug one bit, it really can take anyone & I have experienced it many times. Either way believe me or not, you will see it for yourself in a few years. Fenantyl makes heroin look like nothing, so be prepared for something a lot more sinister.

  12. Dennis

    OFC it comes from china.. as it grows in afghanistan... where its made into opium.. then its shiped to (or pakistan, iran) to china where its cooked into H and this fentanyl.. i am sure that fentanyl market is not more then 1% of morphin and up.

    You don-t know what you are talking about ffs

    1. billybond


  13. Matt

    "Yeah, everything is America's fault. You stupid losers. Your all just a bunch of victims. Poor you. How pathetic. The man has you down. Get over it. For Christ's sake, take some responsibility for yourselves and quit blaming everybody else for your own failures and lack of ambition. Stand on your own two feet and don't expect everyone else to hold you up. Jesus, what a bunch of crybabies."

    Woah calm down there scubahelo, bit defensive are we? nobody is attacking you atleast I'm not so rather than get bent out of shape and push your right wing views how about contributing a comment to make the world a better place and maybe people wont feel so down? or beaten by the man and such, if we all come together and co-operate the power of humans working together beats all and its how we got so far, maybe an idea or 2 might be too much to ask but rather than spew hate and agenda lets just sort it eh?


  14. Mark Gaboury

    These weak-willed thieves! Blaming their crimes on the drug! Clogging up clinics! We have people actually working to make a living, and you punks think nothing of stealing and hustling! We have actual sick people, and you lazy vagrants are ahead of the line! Exercise some virtue and will!

  15. NC

    Tomaz: Fentanyl is an entirely synthetic drug and not derived from opium/morphine. In my country, fentanyl-derivatives has largely replaced the classic opioids, especially among novice users. People go straight to fentanyls, get hooked and build monstrous tolerances to a degree that the dose of heroin they would need is crazy high! Fentanyls are very much more easily available, and often legal to use. So heroin is very much losing ground here at least.

  16. Derek

    The counselor ( forget his name ) the dude st the end of the film talking about his brother, I know he's doing good work trying to help but if he was my counselor or trying to give me advice the only thing I would be thinking of is getting high. You can hear the oppiate in his voice. He's def taking too much suboxone or methadone.

  17. Patricia Anne Shea MSW

    I was Rx'd Fentanyl patches when I had extreme 24/7 pain (Shingles & Post Herpetic Neuralgia). Coming off that stuff was horrendous ?

  18. Trudy Ferguson

    Last Dec lost a young man from extended family who had the whole world. Talented, smart was a father. His two buddies OD at the same time. The people that profit from this shit should be put away for life. The government needs to shut them down at the top. Rich from the exploitation of the most vulnerable and marginalized people these criminals are seemingly protected. That's a story that needs to be told as well.

  19. desmondsdrums

    Don't believe this stupid propaganda film by VICE. Simple fact, the Vice is owned by FOX and Disney. The film starts off with some absurd statistics, quoted from the movie 2:08; "Half to one percent of fentanyl users will die". In monetary terms that is a ridiculous range is fifty cents or one cent. Fentanyl works great everyone should try it. VICE FILMS SUCK!!!

  20. AM

    Only users lose drugs..But seriously those blue fentanyl tabs look extremely toxic judging by the condition of the users, i suppose they are more likely to OD before they have liver/kidney shutdown.

  21. Tomaz

    BTW scubahalo
    OFC it comes from china.. as it grows in afghanistan... where its made into opium.. then its shiped to (or pakistan, iran) to china where its cooked into H and this fentanyl.. i am sure that fentanyl market is not more then 1% of morphin and up.

    ppl i am sorry but I wouldn't say it if I wouldn't be informed more then this docu. excuse me if it shocks you BUT you can't change the facts that repeat themselves for last decades. america is, was, and it will be biggest consumer and by it dealer of dope.
    half of europe has sh*t heroin just because of the fact that the need for it in america grew so exponentionally... coz that "Moo Jyah Edd In - blacksheepofthefamily - scapegoat" heroin smugglerss can produce just so much.. not enough anymore.

  22. Tomaz

    and pls @scubahalo
    i would say more like this... its our fault because we listen and fallow such a hollywood buoulllzsheieieat that even martians would't and could't belive it.. even if they tryed.. its our fault. u dompf ook!

  23. Tomaz

    im so sorry.
    i dont say its all a lie..
    others.. pls go visit kosovo and check it out.

  24. scubahalo

    I should move to Canada, where I can be a drug addict, have the tax payers support me and my useless wife and kids, and then reward myself with a two week vacation to Hawaii. Awesome!

  25. scubahalo

    BTW, Tomaz, watch the video. They say most of the drugs come from CHINA.

  26. scubahalo

    Yeah, everything is America's fault. You stupid losers. Your all just a bunch of victims. Poor you. How pathetic. The man has you down. Get over it. For Christ's sake, take some responsibility for yourselves and quit blaming everybody else for your own failures and lack of ambition. Stand on your own two feet and don't expect everyone else to hold you up. Jesus, what a bunch of crybabies.

  27. Tomaz

    The docu to me looks like a distraction from reality.. The real problem is still heroin.. Because the biggest dealer of this world buys all raw stuff to produce it - the quality of heroin in the rest of the world dramaticaly dropped.
    American pill producers became this biggest dealer of the world in last 10 - 20 years... and they will remain there on the throne till that comet drops down... coz nobody will remove the king from up there.
    usa will keep this problem with opiates because noone is really trying to stop this chemo industry from behind this curtains... i talk like nerd, i know.