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Moyers on Addiction Picture
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Program 4: THE NEXT GENERATION
Premiere: Tuesday, March 31, 1998; 9-10 p.m. (ET)

Movie link: The Next Generation

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One in five American children lives in a home with an addicted person. What can be done to break the cycle of addiction in this next generation? Experts are learning that some currently popular efforts at preventing drug use may have little effect on children most at risk for developing addiction, making it urgent for us to develop better programs. One such young person is T.J., whose parents are both battling heroin addiction. The Moyers team meets them at a Seattle methadone clinic, where they are taking part in a unique program called Focus on Families. By teaching parenting skills to recovering addicts on methadone, Focus on Families tries to improve the odds for their children.
 

In a look at a side of American life that may be unfamiliar to most viewers, T.J. describes what life is like in an addicted household, including the day he came home from school to find his father face down on the kitchen floor, nearly dead from a heroin overdose. "He's a ten-year-old with thirty years of experiences," says his father.

But a young person need not be the child of an addict to be at risk for addiction. Donald, a high school junior in Dade County, Florida, is a case in point. Donald admits to his heavy use of alcohol and marijuana. But although he often skips class, he never misses a weekly discussion group for kids who have a history of substance abuse and/or emotional problems that put them at risk for addiction. The group is part of an innovative program in Dade County called TRUST, which relies on specially trained counselors to intervene in the lives of the most vulnerable students. Robin Tassler, one of the counselors, has had a significant effect on another student in the program, Joe, who is overcoming a serious drug problem after residential drug treatment. He is drug- and alcohol-free today, but he knows he can't stay that way without the support of people like Robin. "At least eight out of ten times that I go to Miss Tassler, it's in part because I want to use [drugs]," he says. "And I go to Miss Tassler just about every day."

Offering viewers a look into the minds and hearts of young people who have squared off in a fight against addiction, THE NEXT GENERATION shows there is hope for kids in even the most dire circumstances -- if they can be reached in time.
 

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