RENO, NV - Five years ago Reno television stations aired a groundbreaking documentary that explored the world of methamphetamines. Called “Crystal Darkness,” it aimed to educate the public about a growing problem.
“About five years ago a discussion started about what in our community has the biggest impact, what’s the biggest driver of crime and what can we do to reduce it,” Secret Witness Chairman Ken Lightfoot. “The conversation turned to meth and the huge impact it has on all segments of our society so we decided to do something about it.”
It started with posters in local schools. Then it grew.
“It turned out to be this crystal meth program that started here in Reno, it blossomed into program that has won an Emmy and several other awards,” Lightfoot said.
He says the community impact was huge.
“After the original broadcast five years ago we were told by the community that does counseling that it had a huge impact. Law enforcement indicated there was an impact, so did the school districts,” Lightfoot said. “So without question it made a difference and it’s a program that’s been effective throughout the country.”
Wednesday night, five years after the original, a second “Crystal Darkness” documentary aired on all the local stations. The local crisis call center set up extra lines to take calls from anyone who thought they may need help.
“They’re trickling in,” call center director Debbie Gant-Reed said. “There are a lot of resources in our community and I would encourage people to call us. We’re happy to talk to people that are interested in going into detox, if they’re looking for inpatient or outpatient care or if they just want to get some encouragement, some help. We’re happy to provide them with the resources and the help we can.”
Global Studio owner Michael Reynolds, who produced the film, said the last five years have been a learning process.
“What we’ve learned through this process is the greatest victims of all are the children,” Reynolds said. “The 2-year-olds, 4-year-olds, 8-year-olds- you would not believe the living conditions they’re in. It’s unbelievable and the message is we have to intervene on behalf of the children because no one else is.”
He’s taken his project across the country and says the message has touched millions.
“No one ever says ‘no’ to this campaign,” Reynolds said. “Everyone gets on board and pitches in, it’s just an amazing thing. People come together because this is something evil and wicked that they don’t want in their families, in their neighborhoods and in their communities.”
He says the new film is all about what they learned on the road.
“This is a completely new film,” Reynolds said. “There’s a few elements that you may recognize but this is some of the greatest hits of our journey all through the country, the top prevention folks, the top recovery folks and some really painful stories – ones I think are going to have an impact on people.”
While the program has made a real impact on many communities, the issue is still a pressing one nationwide.
“We go wherever we’re asked to go because we know this is not going to go away with one, two, multiple events,” Reynolds said. “We gotta keep the foot on the pedal. One of the things that’s happened over the last few years is the breeding ground for substance abuse and meth addiction is depression, recession, losing your home, your job so we need to know we’re in the worst for this, and this is why we’ve really got to lock arms together and do battle again.”
Northern Nevada Scolari’s and Sak n Save supermarkets are handing out free copies of a one-hour video aimed at parents who have questions about addition and its consequences.
The crisis call center is always open and available at (775) 825-HELP