Movie Review: “Recovery Boys”

Elaine McMillion Sheldon’s documentary “Recovery Boys” takes you deep into the heart of America’s opioid epidemic.

Addiction is an issue that plagues all of America, yet it is one that is often misunderstood. Elaine McMillion Sheldon’s documentary “Recovery Boys” takes you deep into the heart of America’s opioid epidemic in West Virginia, and exposes some of the most intimate aspects of recovery.

The film primarily focuses on the lives of four men from West Virginia (Jeff, Rush, Ryan, and Adam) who are facing opioid addiction head-on. They are enrolled in a farm-based rehab program founded by Dr. Blankenship where hard work is just as much a daily part of life as counseling, structured programming, and lots of chores to keep them busy and engaged.

Jeff, Rush, Ryan, and Adam are just a small sample of all the young men and women in the U.S. who have lost years of their lives to addiction. Jeff is the very first resident at the rehab center and he is highly motivated to get sober so he can regain custody of his two young daughters. Rush is a rehab pro, having completed nine other addiction treatment programs previously with little success. Adam is struggling to stop hurting the people he loves most and Ryan arrives in rehab directly off the street, still detoxing and very sick.

During rehab, these men quickly connect and form a bond that can’t easily be broken. Their experience in rehab is portrayed honestly by Sheldon’s film crew. It is full of ups and downs, personal growth, and exposes deep uncertainty at times. However, once the physical and emotional work of rehab is done, the four men are faced with an even greater challenge: returning to their everyday lives.

Staying sober in rural West Virginia isn’t easy, especially when all your friends, family members, and coworkers are all doing drugs or drinking. For some of the men featured in this documentary, living sober is a type of lifestyle that they never even knew was possible. The struggle to stay sober is real and challenges like finding employment, getting stable housing, and dealing with depression and boredom, can all be the difference between life and death.

Sheldon’s film “Recovery Boys” is inspiring but also raw and intimate. It invites you to take a front-row seat and watch as four men struggle to survive against all odds. While each of their experiences with addiction, rehab, and relapse is different, they are united by one common theme: the will to live.

As the movie comes to a close, you will likely feel hopeful for those who succeed in their journey but your heart will also ache for the men who are still struggling to overcome their addictions. This reality is a great reminder that there’s no simple answer or cure to the ongoing opioid addiction problem in America.

Jeff, Rush, Ryan, and Adam are courageously working to end their addiction and they each have distinct and different struggles to overcome. By focusing on their individual stories, Sheldon sheds a unique perspective on opioid addiction and challenges viewers to re-evaluate their expectations and perceptions about addiction.

If you have a loved one who is addicted, in rehab, or is currently in recovery, “Recovery Boys” is an engaging film and an opportunity to expand your awareness and understanding of what treatment and recovery really look like for those who are struggling. You can watch “Recovery Boys” on Netflix with a subscription.

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