×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Investigative Reports: The Junkie Next Door: Women and Heroin

It was only a matter of time before heroin, the new boutique narcotic of choice, began surfacing not only in the suburbs but in TV documentaries about heroin abuse in the suburbs. And here we are. This raw, potent "Investigative Reports" hour shows girls and women hooked on smack without the accompanying closeups of dank shooting galleries and creepy, sweaty withdrawal.

With:
Host/Narrator: Bill Kurtis

It was only a matter of time before heroin, the new boutique narcotic of choice, began surfacing not only in the suburbs but in TV documentaries about heroin abuse in the suburbs. And here we are. This raw, potent “Investigative Reports” hour shows girls and women hooked on smack without the accompanying closeups of dank shooting galleries and creepy, sweaty withdrawal. Here, the junkies are more or less typical female members of white society: students, mothers, career women.

Well, kinda. The “career” of the career woman depicted here is actually that of professional stripper. But Theresa Fox is 24 and middle class, with a home in suburbia, two adorable kids and a supportive husband. She also happens to need her daily dime-bag heroin fix to get her through work as men paw at her and treat her like “a whore,” in her words. When she doesn’t get it, she starts getting cranky and lashing out at the family. Just why Theresa’s husband takes this kind of crap from her isn’t clear, but the term “co-dependent” comes to mind.

What is most fascinating about “The Junkie Next Door: Women and Heroin” is the uncommon access granted to A&E and producer BNN. Junkies are not typically a forthcoming lot, but surprisingly, the production was able to elicit permission to ride along and record — in up-close-and-personal fashion — the damage done by heroin, as well as its procuring. What emerges is a rare glance into the mind of drug abusers, who are portrayed as human beings caught in the throes of a damaging habit that brings them pleasure, rather than as slaves to a poison that has no up-side whatsoever.

There are noble people as well as sad ones to be found here. The noble include the mother of Erin Allen, who bravely tells her daughter’s tragic story in hopes that it will prevent others from spiraling downhill in a similar fashion. There is also Joan Chatterton, a drug counselor who has dedicated her life to saving young women from the familiar cycle of ruin.

But mostly, “The Junkie Next Door” is about women like 17-year-old Nicole, who has a $30-a-day heroin habit and admits, “It’s hard to explain… I don’t want to get high, but I do.”

Later, a young mother will reveal, “I don’t want people to look at my son and say, ‘His mother’s a junkie.’ I want him to have his own identity.” Then, chillingly, she places the crack pipe to her lips and takes a fresh hit.

The hour doesn’t necessarily offer much in the way of solutions so much as hold a mirror up to the new reality of heroin: There were 141,000 new users in 1998; its use has doubled among high school seniors over the past decade; and its level of purity now exceeds 50% (it was once less than 10%). And heroin is likely to penetrate still further into our hallowed middle-class neighborhoods before the pattern heads into reverse.

That probably isn’t what anyone wants to hear. But to the credit of this spare but wise “Investigative Reports” installment, it is surely the reality. Tech credits are right on.

Popular on Variety

Investigative Reports: The Junkie Next Door: Women and Heroin

A&E; Tues. Oct. 26, 10 p.m. PT/9 p.m. ET

Production: Taped in Baltimore, Md., and Newcastle County, Del., by BNNTV.com in association with A&E. Executive producers, Steven Rosenbaum, Bill Kurtis, Ed Hersh; senior producer, Jeffrey Tuchman; supervising producer, Laura Fleury; producer, Katherine Linton; associate producer, Deborah Kurtz; director of production, Lori Fechter.

Cast: Host/Narrator: Bill KurtisEditor, Christopher White; creative director, Dave Goldberg; video, Mira Chang, Shasa Rogers, Linton.

More TV

  • Patria

    HBO Europe Unveils ‘Patria’ Footage to Captive San Sebastian Audience

    SAN SEBASTIAN — Amid large expectation, HBO Europe has revealed first footage giving a first sense of tone and pace of its Spanish original series “Patria.” A packed-to-overflowing press conference on Saturday morning at the San Sebastian Festival can be read as one sign of the potential popularity of the eight-part series. The panel sneak-peek [...]

  • Topic Studios

    Layoffs Hit Topic Studios as TV Division Relocates to West Coast (EXCLUSIVE)

    A small round of layoffs has hit Topic Studios this week in the television division, insiders familiar with the company told Variety. One of the insiders said three executives at the New York-based producer and distributor are out: senior vice president of scripted programming and Viacom alum Lisa Leingang, vice president of development Mona Panchal [...]

  • Peter Weber and Mike Johnson

    'The Bachelor's' Mike Johnson on Diversity and New Leading Man Peter Weber

    ABC named its newest star of “The Bachelor” this week, officially making Peter Weber the leading man for Season 24 of the long-running dating show. Social media backlash ensued following the announcement due to ABC’s selection lacking diversity, yet again. Since the dating franchise began in 2002, there has been only one “Bachelorette” of color [...]

  • ABC Studios Logo

    ABC Studios Head of Alternative Fernando Hernandez Exits

    ABC Studios’ head of alternative Fernando Hernandez has departed from his post at the Disney-owned television studio, a source familiar with the situation told Variety. The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news. Hernandez’s exit follows an executive shuffling at the top in recent months that has included the departure of Amy Hartwick, ABC Studio’s head [...]

  • Rob Cowan, Greg Silverman'The Conjuring 2'

    Greg Silverman’s Stampede, School of Rock Team for Unscripted Series (EXCLUSIVE)

    Former president of Warner Bros. Pictures Greg Silverman is partnering with School of Rock through his content creation company Stampede. The collaboration with the music school will create exclusive content, starting with the development of an unscripted series.  School of Rock operates a network of performance-based education franchises that offer students of all ages guidance [...]

  • TV Roundup: Erica Durance Reprises 'Smallville'

    TV News Roundup: Erica Durance Reprises 'Smallville' Role in 'Arrowverse' Crossover

    In today’s TV news roundup, Erica Durance reprises her “Smallville” role in the CW’s annual “Arrowverse” crossover, and Showtime shares with Variety an exclusive sneak peek at the return of “The Circus.” FIRST LOOKS “2020 is the most important election of our lifetime,” Alex Wagner says in a new trailer for the fourth season of [...]

  • Patrick Whitesell and Ari Emanuel WME

    Endeavor Targets Sept. 27 for Stock Debut, IPO Video Tells Company's Origin Story

    After years of preparation, Endeavor is set to make its formal Wall Street debut on Sept. 27, when its stock will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Endeavor has targeted Sept. 26 for the final pricing of its shares. The stock will trade publicly the following day. Earlier this week, Endeavor said its [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content