Today, every fifth person struggles with addiction – to drugs, alcohol, opioids. No one is immune to the damage, and the hurt spreads far beyond just the addict themselves. ASK: Can Love Survive Addiction and Codependency is an exploration of alcoholism, drug addiction, and codependency. This award-winning film explores the true stories of addicts and codependents in their real-time journeys. Using personal interviews, music, animation and imagery, viewers are challenged to consider the reality of their own lives as it relates to addiction and codependency.
Filmmaker Kurt Neale is known to explore difficult topics in his projects. “I was drawn to the world of addiction because of a national epidemic,” says Neale, who at the time of production was unaware that his own son was struggling with an opioid addiction. The Lake Highlands filmmaker reveals that he “was advised by two ‘addiction experts’ to stop production, get a sponsor and work the 12 Steps, which I did. Needless to say, at that point the film became very personal to me.”
ASK follows the lives of 50 different addicts, with special focus on Caleb, an American raised in China who returns to his childhood stomping grounds in hopes of tracing the roots of his addiction, looking for a clue to his illness in the unique culture and circumstances of his upbringing.
Another of the films’ subjects, Casey, relays her visceral experience with addiction. She describes the sense of identity that using gave her, “I knew how to be Casey the junkie, but I could never figure out how to be Casey the daughter, friend, employee, or human being.” The sense of misdirection Casey felt left her profoundly lost in trying to assume the roles and identities expected of her by loved ones.
Relationship between addict and codependent
In addition to revealing the stories of addicts, ASK investigates the unique and often parasitic relationship between an addict and their codependent. One mother defines it, “While the addict is addicted to drugs, the codependent is addicted to the addict and wanting to keep them sober.”
Casey’s mother and codependent is an attorney by training whose inclination is to “look at a problem, research it, find out what to do, and then fix it.” She admits that this false notion of the codependent trying hard enough to cure their addicted loved one is an extremely harmful approach. Though indisputably, it is a wrenching struggle for control and many encounter helplessness to support an addicted loved one.
The producers note that “the film and production process is designed to attract, rather than promote,”, an untraditional way of approaching a film release, but an important principle of the 12-steps. They expect that the target audience would gravitate towards the documentary rather than trying to glamorize and sensationalize the film in order to appeal to a more expansive demographic.
“This is a film about how the addict and codependent relate to one another, love, and how both need help” explains Neale. With resounding success, the documentary explains these topics in a way not seen before through real people’s stories, providing unfettered hope and direction for addict, codependent, and viewer.