A Spectrum News documentary, "Opioid Crisis: Raising Heroin's Children," will shine a light on the opioid epidemic across the U.S. and in Florida.

  • Spectrum News presents a night of original programming dedicated to the opioid crisis in Florida.
  • DOCUMENTARY:  "Opioid Crisis: Raising Heroin's Children, " 7 p.m. May 22
  • LIVE TOWN HALL: 7:30 p.m. in Bradenton, Fla.

We'll talk to people affected by opioids, from addicts to the loved ones left behind. We'll also examine the ways that officials and experts are handling the crisis.

The documentary features three people affected by addiction: a user, a mother of an addict and a child of an addict, all with harrowing stories to share.

A grandmother

Carol Baker, 66, now has full custody of her 7-year-old grandchild due to her daughter's addiction. That addiction nearly cost Carol her life as she, at one point, almost worked herself to death taking care of five of her daughter's kids.

"I want to just scream to God that this is not fair," she said. "Not only have I lost my daughter, I have to raise her child."

A young man

For the kids, the trauma they have experienced has long-lasting effects. Jesse Hamblem's mother struggled with addiction.

"Growing up as being a kid who has their parents choose drugs over them, that's already pretty damaging as a child to grow up that way," Hamblem said. "It really starts to create underlying problems. My mom was a prostitute and drug addict, and my dad was an alcoholic and a pedophile."

The 26-year-old grew up in foster care from the ages of 9 to 16 before running away and living on the streets. Hamblem eventually turned to drugs himself and overdosed on heroin. Luckily, he went to a rehab center and was able to turn his life around.

A mother

For some users, they were simply following a doctor's orders that led them down a dark path. Jessica Denichilo first started using narcotics prescribed by her doctor. It eventually led her to a point where she was injecting heroin and other opiates into her veins.

"My disease brought me to a place where I would use all of the money that I made to buy drugs and not even buy food for my own children," Denichilo said.

The opioid crisis is causing a wave of destruction throughout communities in the United States. Experts say our society needs to develop the political will and the enlightenment to understand that this is an illness that needs to be treated like a medical illness with the appropriate medications at our disposal.