Steel Town Down

2018 ,    »  -   11 Comments
Ratings: 7.60/10 from 20 users.

The VICE News production Steel Town Down travels to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, where the demise of a once thriving steel industry has given birth to widespread despair, limited economic opportunity, and a raging opioid epidemic.

Victor Gareau still works at the steel plant. He's one of the lucky few. The industry once employed over 13,000 locals, but modernization and cost cutting measures hung most of that work force out to dry. His 19-year old son Josh is an addict. He continues to use even though he's personally known a number of people just like him who have perished under the weight of their addictions.

Josh is not an anomaly. Over 4000 overdose deaths were reported in Canada last year alone, and the opioid crisis has hit this small town especially hard. Poverty is a major contributing factor, but limited treatment resources have also done much to exacerbate the epidemic. The local hospital employs only one addiction specialist, and it's not unusual for her to treat eight overdose cases in a single night.

The most popular drugs like Fentanyl are synthetic. Users rarely know precisely what they're injecting into their bodies, and the mystery concoction too often proves fatal.

An epidemic like this one does much to shape the character of a community and vice versa. You can feel it in the empty shops, the shuttered housing and the desperation carved into the faces of its residents.

"This town is all about drugs," admits one addict. The opioid crisis has even taken a front seat in the lives of those who don't abuse drugs. The filmmakers speak to concerned parents who struggle to keep their children alive, medical professionals who experience a steady stream of senseless drug-related deaths, the rehabilitation counselors who work to inspire those who wish to escape from the claws of their addiction, and a paramedic whose frequent overdose calls have become routine.

Sault Ste. Marie is indicative of many towns all across North America and beyond. Steel Town Down captures the trauma felt on all sides of the issue, and accurately portrays addiction as a devastating disease that requires patience, empathy, and adequate resources to overcome.

11 Comments / User Reviews

    joe nobull
  1. joe nobull

    mother earth cant hear your concrete and steel cities

  2. cdnski12
  3. cdnski12

    The only good thing about Fentanyl, is that it eliminates the addicts in our society. Addicts are estimated to cost society $500,000 => $1,000,000 annually, so eliminating 1000 annually saves us nearly $1 Billion CAD.
    People who inject unknown drugs into their veins don't deserve our sympathy. The parents and friends are enablers. Any 12 step program will tell you that almost immediately.

  4. Doug
  5. Doug

    How sad. Unfortunately addicts tend to believe, or at least say out load, that they cannot stop rather than that they have not yet found a way to stop using. I would agree stopping is not easy for a number of valid reasons as well as a number of contrived excuses but I know it is possible based on personal experience. I never used Fentanyl but I can witness re a vast spectrum of substances covering a 25 year span of time. Best to all.

  6. Jackal
  7. Jackal

    You have to feel some sympathy with famlies that have members who are suffering from addiction, and it doesn't matter what kind -- drugs, which range from beer to opiods; or sexual deviation; obesity or annorxia, or whatever.
    In the case of the 20 year old, they didn't once mention his problem, which from all appearances, is that he is gay. His parents didn't mention it, he didn't mention it, as if it was something that wasn't on the table, although to people who recognize it, it was very obvious. This is a problem with youngsters as they go through a time in their life in which many are really trying to find themselves, and resort to drugs as a means of doing so, and then become very easily addicted. I was appalled that both parents smoked, and didn't seem to consider this as part of their boy's problems. If I were a parent I would make damn sure that my son or daughter would have access for something meaningful for them to do, to encourage them to continue schooling, to encourage them to take up some sort of sport, etc.
    Insofar as the older addict, I'm inclined to agree that getting them off drugs is useless and people like that really don't deserve much sympathy. They need to get into a facility in the arctic somewhere where no drugs are available and anyone (jailor) who supplies them with any would be hung.
    I'm a senior who helped raise 3 drug free children who have raised 2 drug free grandchildren.

  8. mark gaboury
  9. mark gaboury

    Vice is a leftist propaganda outfit. The health care worker has the drug addict for her best friend. So she doesn't believe in tough love, just more 'support.' She's an enabler. Getting tattoos from the creepy druggist! She's an insecure fat woman looking for a man...any man who will have her. Fine woman to be put in charge of anything! These lazy drug-addicted scoundrels have marginalized themselves. They plug up our health care system and get in the way of people who need legitimate help. Kick that Joshua to the curb. These losers feel neglected because they're infants who don't contribute anything to society.

  10. Carol Crabtree
  11. Carol Crabtree

    cdnski12 - that's a pretty disturbing attitude you have, try some compassion, you need it.

  12. Mohd Abbas
  13. Mohd Abbas

    Quite sad to watch people die doing drugs. Religion and God can make you a better person. Without God our lives have no meaning.

  14. Kelly
  15. Kelly

    Josh has parents who raised a self centered little destroyer of relationships, they are enablers that apparently never disciplined this brat at all!! Boy seems to have excuses for all his inadequate behavior. He'll never be a productive member of any society so, yeah, he has the right idea of suicide. GOOD LUCK JOSH!! LOSER.

  16. Terry Reardon - Smith
  17. Terry Reardon - Smith

    I suggest we provide effective treatment services to those addicted and charge those parasites of society who feed off the addicted. The charge must be 2nd degree murder or manslaughter.

  18. thomas
  19. thomas

    The left can't create jobs so they focus on making these whiny documentaries.

  20. Josh
  21. Josh

    Thomas is part of the problem.

Leave a comment / review: