Louis Theroux: Dark States – Heroin Town

Louis embeds himself in an Appalachian community devastated by widespread heroin use

Vast numbers of Americans have turned to heroin in the aftermath of a crackdown on prescription painkillers. Louis spends time with the user community caught in the vice-like grip of drug misuse and follows the emergency services struggling to cope with multiple overdoses each day.

“Louis has an uncanny ability to establish a rapport and seem humble and sympathetic even when he's asking the toughest questions”

Independent

"They might lie to their families, and to themselves, but to Louis they tell it like it is”

The Guardian

The detail


America’s love affair with prescription painkillers has led to widespread dependency on opiates. But following a crackdown on their over-prescription, where does this leave the two million Americans who have developed a habit for these high-strength painkillers?

With the pills now becoming increasingly expensive and scarce on the black market, vast numbers of Americans have turned to the cheaper and stronger opiate: heroin. The drug now claims more lives in the US than either car accidents or gun crime. And, for the first time in over two decades, life expectancy in the US is declining - largely attributed to the rise in fatal heroin overdoses.

In Huntington, West Virginia, Louis Theroux embeds himself in an Appalachian community that is being devastated and stretched to its limits by widespread heroin use. With one in ten babies in the city born dependent on opiates and a fatal overdose rate 13 times the national average, this is the epicentre of the most deadly drug epidemic in US history. Louis spends time with the user community caught in the vice-like grip of drug misuse and follows the emergency services struggling to cope with multiple overdoses each day.

The Dark States trilogy peaked with an audience of 3.1 million viewers and a 12.2% share (Episode 1 Heroin Town), making it one of BBC Two’s top ten titles for the year to date (1 January – 22 October 2017). The series averaged 2.7 million viewers and a 10.9% share, outperforming BBC Two’s slot and primetime average shares by 63% and 46% respectively. It Increased the average audience and share of its lead-in titles by 32% and 33%, and won its time slot for Adults 16-34, more than tripling (+223%) BBC Two’s slot average share for this group. Furthermore, the series exceeded the channel’s slot average share by 66% for upmarket adults (ABC1) and it topped BBC Two’s slot average shares for Men 16+ by 57% and Women 16+ by 72%.

The Dark States trilogy is a BBC Studios The Documentary Unit production with Series Producer Jamie Pickup and Executive Producer Peter Dale.

Other similar projects