Jack Conroy was the All-American boy. In a new documentary that looks at his battle with opioid addiction, one panelist compared the Rowayton native to Huck Finn. He had a big personality, a loving family, a wonderful girlfriend, and the tools to build a successful future.
A sensitive soul, he hid the demons that danced in his head from his support network. Six years after his death at age 21 on April 1, 2015, his family’s heartache remains palpable. “Jack had a big personality,’’ said his mother, Barbara. “He was a cool cat for sure. His sensitivity was hidden beneath his dynamic and sometimes intimidating exterior.”
Conroy’s death points to a larger crisis that confronts American families. In 2019 more than 70,000 people died from illicit drugs and prescription opioids. Deaths from overdoses have climbed every year since 1999, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, including a near 100 percent increase between 2009 and 2019. More than 100 Americans die daily from opioid addiction.
The documentary, Hooked: A Family’s Journey with Addiction, details Jack’s battle and the impact it had on his friends and family. Jack entered six rehabilitation facilities, saw improvement, but each time he left treatment the vicious cycle continued. His family spared no expense to help him work through the addiction. “This disease is sneaky,’’ Barbara said. “It preys on those who are susceptible, as they seek any type of relief from mental, emotional or physical suffering, and then the addiction will not let go.”
She said the stigma of addiction stung Jack and his family. Similar to other mental health issues, the stigma associated with the disease is hard to accept. Proceeds from the documentary will go to Shatterproof, a national organization whose goal is to end the stigma associated with drug addiction.
“Statistics show the number one reason for not getting tested for those suffering from HIV was the stigma,’’ Conroy said. “Then a movement and science began to stamp out the disease. We can do that too. By pooling resources available with science and a huge voice will begin the change.”
The Conroy family hopes the film will help families find information to identify potentially life-threatening circumstances surrounding substance use. “Science is changing the course of this disease, and having resources and help, which took me years to gather, will hopefully save lives,” Conroy said.
Like many addicted to opioids, Jack’s battle started during his teenage years. Few parents would have seen the clues. Jack, his family, and his friends all did their best to loosen the addiction’s Hercules-like grip.
“I encourage parents to beware,’’ Barbara said. “The movie is called a cautionary tale. On the outside, it may have appeared we were an ideal family. We weren’t. We were in trouble and needed help, not judgment, which is the stigma. Our children need a solid foundation and stability throughout. It is 100 percent our responsibility to identify the signs. I missed them, and the consequences are dire.”
Click here to watch the trailer and to stream the film. At check-out, enter promo code MOFFLY to save $5 on the rental fee.
We at Moffly Media are hoping as many people as possible watch this film, and we are donating our net proceeds from each rental to benefit Shatterproof.