HAZARD —Community members from all around the Hazard area packed into the Perry County Public Library on Fri., Aug. 19 for a premiere screening of “Never Me: The Debby Terry Story,” a docudrama film about substance abuse addiction and recovery.
Charles Shouse, the film’s director and associate director of Caney Digital Media, the media wing of Kentucky River Community Care, Inc. (KRCC), worked closely with Debby Terry, a former addict who overcame significant odds to become the first former felon ever hired by KRCC, to capture the story of her life on film.
“There has been so much love and support for Debby,” Shouse said. “Her family was in attendance to show their support, which was one of the things that we were concerned about when making this movie. It was a very proud night for everyone involved.”
After the screening, Terry said it was hard to see her life played out before her, but she realizes just how important the film is to the region, especially as so many eastern Kentuckians fight the battle of substance abuse.
“I did it, because I know what it’s like,” Terry said. “I’ve worked with all these young women, and I know if just one sees it – just one – and doesn’t live the life I lived, then everything I went through is worth it.”
Terry also addressed the audience by recounting her improbable journey from addict and felon to becoming KRCC’s lead Peer Support Specialist, a position that allows her to use her story to impact and save lives.
“KRCC has been the most amazing place,” she said. “It has taught me things I never dreamed of. Never would I have dreamed I’d be sitting here sober in front of you guys.”
Approximately 125 people attended the premiere, with many of them taking to social media to express their feelings about the film.
“The movie was courageous and well-crafted,” wrote Marge Barber Fulton. “Thanks to Debby Terry and all involved for being honest, open, and willing to share the story!”
“I came from Ohio to watch this movie,” Beverly Day commented. “…(It) was so emotional and produced so perfectly. I hope it can be shown everywhere for the world to see.”
After the screening, there was a question and answer session in which audience members asked Terry what she felt about the film, how to help family members dealing with addiction, and what her life in recovery is like now.
“That’s the message I want to get across to you. You can come back. You can turn your life around,” she said. “Don’t ever give up on yourself. Don’t ever give up on someone you love.”
“Never Me: The Debby Terry Story” will have further showings in Breathitt, Letcher, Leslie, and Knott counties. A schedule will be made available soon on KRCC’s Facebook page. The film will premiere to a wider audience this fall on KET.
Mindy Miller is a multimedia writer for Kentucky River Community Care, Inc.