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It’s easy to put people into boxes, assign labels and make assumptions based on what they look like.  We see a dirty, homeless person and think, “that’s a drug addict” or a guy in a jacket and tie and think, “There goes a productive member of society”. This is not necessarily a conscious thought, but societal conditioning. This month’s Saturday Night at the Movies film Ravaged Soul: Anatomy of an Addict presented by REEL Recovery Film Festival  in association with In The Rooms film asks us to see reality as it is, not as we wish it were.

The Story.

Brian McDonald (called Brad, in the film) is the guy in the tie and the jacket. A father, husband and executive who is buttoned up on the outside and falling apart on the inside. He recalls sneaking around between classes as an instructor at the Vancouver Broadcasting College to score drugs in the notorious Downtown East Side.  The Vancouver DTES has one of the highest concentrations of drug abuse, homelessness, and mental illness in the world.  Brian doesn’t shy away from the reality of his heroin use and the physical and sexual abuse he suffered as a child.  “It’s an ugly story and hard to watch”, he explains. Indeed, its honest and raw emotionality make Ravaged Soul difficult to swallow, but it is ultimately worth it.  

The film features family and friends discussing the impact Brian’s using had on their lives.   Even having been clean and sober for many years the pain is still evident, particularly on the face of Brian’s wife. She often didn’t know if she would ever see him again. 

The Films History.

Ravaged Soul first screened at the REEL Recovery Film Festival in New York and Los Angeles in 2014.  The updated version, now called Ravaged Soul: Anatomy of an Addict was accepted to the Virtual REEL Recovery Film Festival 2020.  Not only is the film  an honest exploration of the addicted mind; it is a true cinematic experience. 

The film addresses a combination of narration, interviews, music and shocking footage of rampant drug use in Vancouver DTES.  Ravaged Soul also looks at the various aspects of drug abuse and its effect on the family, friends and work.  It is a great source of information and education for the loved ones of people with substance use disorder.  

You can watch Ravaged Soul: Anatomy of an Addict on Saturday, February 13th at 6pm PST and 9pm EST.  


Ahbra Kaye is the producer and curator of the 13 year-old REEL Recovery Film Festival and Symposium. The film festival is both a joy and a challenge that she is excited to continue in the virtual realm this year. Streaming November 5-11 on the REEL Recovery Film Channel. She is proud to be 5+years sober, a 3rd generation Angeleno and mother of 3 to Josh, Jordyn, Ellie, and two pirate dogs; Abby who has 3 legs and one-eyed Butters .


  1. Cindy Stoerger Reply

    Hi. Are there meetings for gambling/ chewing tobacco addiction?

  2. Beth McCartney Reply

    Where can I watch Ravage soul autonomy of an addict. I am the mother of Stan Mingo’s daughter who has followed her father’s path in life. I’m not an addict nor have I ever been. I tried everything in my power to keep my girl out of the life her father lead. Unfortunately I was unsuccessful.

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