Happy Valley – A True Life Story

guest Mormon 18 Comments

Today’s post is by Ghost Writer.Happy Valley

Coming to a theatre near you (if you live in Utah) March 28th

One miracle after another occurs through the passion of one full time single father whose original intention was to reunite his 12-year-old daughter with her addicted mother.Deep in the heart of Utah, commonly referred to as “Happy Valley,” residents enjoy one of the lowest crime rates, highest literacy and language fluency – even the most jello consumption – across the nation. Yet under the glossy exterior of this beautiful community, there are less popular categories that Happy Valley contends in but doesn’t advertise, including prescription drug abuse, double the national average of anti-depressant drugs, even suicide. In Happy Valley at least one teen per week dies from drug overdose. 

The real-life true story, Happy Valley, sheds light on the growing problem of prescription drug abuse in Utah County and, as importantly, the associated issues of denial, conformity, social pressure and guilt. The film intimately follows several lives and families that have been dramatically affected by prescription drug abuse leading to street drug abuse and addiction. From these stories and a single father’s journey to reunite a family emerge unconditional love, forgiveness, acceptance… even transformation. Examples…One: Meet Danny. From all appearances, Danny is an extremely successful entrepreneur with a beautiful family, prominent in both his community and church. However, Danny has harbored a secret addiction for more than 15 years. Danny’s courage to risk everything for recovery inspires throughout the film. Two: “Greg” takes us through the high and lows of drug abuse with humility and honesty. Initially, Greg agreed only to be an anonymous participant for the film’s research, however, his story becomes so powerful that he chooses the path of recovery. Greg surrenders to his addiction, portraying endless personal transformation and growth.Three: A harrowing story of heartbreaking addiction, broken families, and even death is told from inside prison walls, both literal and emotional. A mother and daughter’s story ends with consequences but also the discovery of the exhilarating freedom that comes through forgiveness. The miracle in all of this is, how the movie ends. Unbelievable.These miracles and more become the heart of Happy Valley with additional interviews from the State Medical Examiner, residents, local undercover cops, doctors and recovering addicts. The film also touches on the reality that we are the sickest generation of Americans ever and the disturbing blur between pharmaceutical and street drugs.Happy Valley will open your eyes to a culture where denial and guilt are instinctive, and it will open your heart to the people who are brave enough to face it and step through it.”I did not find this story, it found me. It was long overdue. The whole project is a miracle. The intent is to create in all of us the conversations we are avoiding. There are many forms of addiction, hence… ‘What’s in your Jello?’ “– Ron Williams, Director, Producer & CreatorWhat do you think?

• If the prescription drug abuse problem is as bad as the trailer and synopsis claim it is, do you think its because Utah is just more honest and get help where other States may suffer in silence due to denial or a poorer economy?

• The real-life true story, Happy Valley, sheds light on the growing problem of prescription drug abuse in Utah County and, as importantly, the associated issues of denial, conformity, social pressure and guilt. Is this synopsis also just hype for the movie or do your wards portray this?

• Or could it really be happening all around us but were not privy to who it’s happening to?

Comments

comments

Comments 18

  1. Interesting. I’ll look forward to seeing what the filmmakers do with this subject.

    It’s interesting to see this trailer what with the Utah depression thread starting up today, and the speculation that Utah’s low use of alcohol to “self-medicate” may explain this. If, instead, a large slice of the Utah pop’ is turning to prescription drug abuse instead, that may offset the low alcohol numbers as a probable explanation.

    Anyhow, that’s the other thread 🙂

  2. I saw this movie at the LDS Film Festival a few months ago. While the camera and audio are not professional, the message is OUTSTANDING. It talks about the very issue we’ve been discussing. Drug abuse is everywhere, inside and outside the LDS church.

  3. I know one of the filmmakers. . . I wouldn’t hold out hopes for it being a well made piece of film. If you try reading through the above description that is taken from their website, I think you can get an idea of how well they’ll put together a film segment. Interesting issue, poor on the drama.

  4. Regardless of the scope of the problem in Utah Valley in comparison to other places, I’m interested in seeing this film if it is a story about humans who Fall and struggle for Redemption.

    I think these things need to be taken with a grain of salt also. A film maker is going to choose Happy Valley not only because it’s a great name, but also because it’s somewhere you’d least expect to have a prescription drug abuse problem. And that makes any film more interesting. How interested would you be in watching a film about prescription drug abuse in downtown LA or NYC?

  5. I’m sorry to hear that the film may have production and writing defects, because the issue is a very real and serious one. On Friday, my wife will leave to drive over to Utah (we live in Colorado) to help her mom and step-dad cope with her younger sister getting out of Utah State Prison. Her sister is there because of the many thousands of dollars in forged checks that she wrote on her mom’s account in order to pay for the prescription drugs that she was (and I suspect still is) addicted to. This prison stay (of about 18 months) came after two separate extended jail terms down in Utah Valley for prescription fraud and drug abuse.

    In response to Andrew’s comment (#5), I would say that a lot of Utahns may not realize how prevalent the problem is; but I also think that most Americans don’t really realize how prevalent the problem is through the US, particularly among the middle class. I have a nephew (not LDS, nor his parents) who became addicted to prescription painkillers around age 18 and has thoroughly screwed up his life and has also drained vast sums of money and goodwill from his parents in their attempts to help him. This is a very bright young man — in his late 20s now — who is lucky to hold down a job for any period of time, does not have a post-high-school degree of any kind, and who still tries to mooch money off his dad(+stepmom) and his mother.

    And the age keeps getting pushed down. Here in Colorado, we’ve just had within the past month several incidents of high school and even middle school kids bringing prescription pain killers to school and handing them out to friends:

    http://www.denverpost.com/search/ci_8372057
    http://www.denverpost.com/search/ci_8410256
    http://www.denverpost.com/search/ci_8208910
    http://www.denverpost.com/search/ci_8540194

    For what it’s worth. ..bruce..

  6. I dont think my ward portrays this…but the society around me definitely does. I see all sorts of alcohol and drug cases at the hospital.

    The lower social classes have higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse…perhaps this is also the case in Utah culture but it is emphasized more because of the cultural setting of Mormonism.

    I am curious to see the film though. It looks educational.

  7. • If the prescription drug abuse problem is as bad as the trailer and synopsis claim it is, do you think its because Utah is just more honest and get help where other States may suffer in silence due to denial or a poorer economy?

    I think there is some truth to the fact that for religious reasons Mormons find it more acceptable to abuse prescription drugs then alcohol or illegal drugs. Once the lack of drinking is taken into account the crisis is less then other cities substance abuse problems.

    • The real-life true story, Happy Valley, sheds light on the growing problem of prescription drug abuse in Utah County and, as importantly, the associated issues of denial, conformity, social pressure and guilt. Is this synopsis also just hype for the movie or do your wards portray this?

    Hype. Is there pressure to conform? Yes. Is there also pressure to rebel? Actually there is quite a bit. Do most Mormons in Happy Valley fit into either group? No. Most of us wish the others would get a grip and stop condemning/lionizing those who don’t tithe on mint and anise and cummin. (Matt 23:23)

    • Or could it really be happening all around us but were not privy to who it’s happening to?

    *shurgs* I’m sure there is a lot going on in Happy Valley that we don’t notice, but we don’t see a lot of what happens in other cities. I have no reason to assume that Happy Valley is any more opaque than the rest of the country, and so the lower incidences of apparent social problems in Happy Valley suggests that there is a proportionate lack of incidences of hidden social problems.

  8. “Most of us wish the others would get a grip and stop condemning/lionizing those who don’t tithe on mint and anise and cummin. (Matt 23:23)”

    It’s actually dill, not anise. Now that’s corrected, let’s get on with the more weighty matters, justice, mercy and fidelity.

    (Just had’ta rib you. 🙂 )

  9. Please remember, this is a documentary. The stories are true stories, some of which Utahn’s will remember. The opening story is of Amelia Sorich, who died of a drug overdose. Her friends panicked, and partially buried her in the foothills of Bountiful. Now they’re in jail, and are interviewed for this film. Of course, this isn’t the only story, but it is incredibly powerful.

    I think Utah’s drug problem is cyclical. A few years ago, there were meth busts galore–now that is under control better. So, the new drug seems to be prescription drugs. Once that is under control, I’m sure tomorrow will bring a new drug to abuse. The point is that Utah is no better or worse than other parts of the country in regards to drug abuse. The film addresses the religious issue. I don’t want to play too much of a spoiler, so I’ll stop there. I don’t want people to think this is a film like “Less than Zero”. It’s more along the lines of “Supersize me.” There are no scripts, just real people with real feelings, and raw emotion. They don’t make the jailed kids seem like victims, but put the responsibility where it belongs.

    The cool thing about the film festival was that the producer Ron Williams was there, as well as Amelia’s mother. Both answered questions, and Amelia’s mom takes issue with Ron with how the film portrayed her daughter. I can’t imagine losing a loved one that way–it’s got to be tough. Even still, the film aims to teach high school kids the dangers of drugs, but is careful to show that drugs affect the young, old, rich, poor, religious, not-religious, and all segments of society. It’s got a powerful message. It talks about both legal, and illegal drug abuse.

  10. I watched the trailer, but I didn’t see the point. The expectation that any religious person or locality should be ‘perfect’ is ridiculous. Have you ever been to Rome!! A very, very beautiful religious place, but are Romans expected to be ‘perfect’ ..No.
    I knew many LDS who had challenging families, but because of expectation they looked like failures. Both my sons were raised as LDS, they now both smoke, drink and use drugs, I detest all these things but I don’t consider it failure, because compared to their peers they are no different and their society doesn’t expect them to be anything other than usual. So to me that it is the Utah issue, those that choose a non LDS path are viewed against their society and what it deems as ‘usual’.
    My general experience of Utah was of a fantastic place to live where people were healthier, well educated, nicely dressed and with lovely homes, where more people were encouraged in sport,the arts and outdoor living…just what I wanted. I think that the Church has a healthy and encouraging involvement in Utah life.Remember, The Church doesn’t force anyone to live their beliefs.
    I am not LDS
    jeff

  11. I know of at least ten people in the Church here in Mesa Az that are running to Mexico every two weeks to get a fix, Pain pills. A good deal of my active friends are on medication for depression or pain. I had a friend inside the church do a job for me recently and he asked if I had pain medication for payment. When I told him no he reluctantly took my money. Let’s stop acting like we don’t know.

    John

  12. I have strong hopes that the story of Amelia will help some other teens. Many people live in the Utah LDS bubble beliving not me not my family and not my child. Please watch this movie. And talk with your kids about drugs. We love and miss Amelia.

  13. To Jeff Hill – once of Southend? OK after 40 years of kidding myself that LDS doctrines actually inform behaviour I took a walk with God and guess what? He ain’t LDS either! I see a shedload of goodness in people all over the place and I don’t see guilt as a motive. LDS ideals are very good as it happens but they are driven by the absurd notion of perfection and the idea that you can box-tick your way to Heaven. Christ saves and does it with a cross not a clipboard.

  14. It says in the scriptures that by their fruits shall you know them; let’s take a look at those fruits. More suicide, more depression, more sexual abuse shall we go on? Because of lengthy and profound investigation I have come to see clealy the true origins of the Mormon Temple based on the occult because of the strong and undeniable links to freemasonry and the constant affirmation that what goes on in the temple shall be for me and my posterity, it is no wonder that this generation are experiencing such painful, depressed lives. When I renounced the Mormon occultist influence, I experienced a freedom in Christ that I could never imagine; true freedom that brings peace and joy. Thank you Jesus. Come back for further discussion.

  15. thought I could sneek in this blog after scrolling through the previous. I never made this film as a means to draw lines in the sand in Gods name. It was never about LDS or NOT. It was about truth and human life and most importantly, acceptance.

    Rather than “being right” , how bout being in the question of co-existing in a loving and profound way without judgement, all as Gods children? Try the vanilla approach! It makes evrything better! love ron williams Director Happy Valley

  16. Dexedrine is the marketed brand name of a medication the technical name of which is extroamphetamine.  It is classified as a psychostimulant that produces a decrease in one’s appetite and increased wakefulness.  The drug is often described as being an “amphetamine analog” or amphetamine-like in nature and is a stimulant that targets the central nervous system of the individual taking it.
    It affects certain brain chemicals that contribute to hyperactivity as well as controlling one’s impulses.  Dexedrine is typically prescribed for the treatment of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and narcolepsy (a chronic sleep disorder known as Dyssomnia).  Because of its amphetamine-like side effects, it has grown in popularity where the recreational use/abuse of the drug is concerned.
    Dexedrine Addiction

Leave a Reply to ron williams Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *