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It took nearly four months, but persistence paid off.

Rick Jolly, substance abuse coordinator for Woburn, and director of Mayor Scott Galvin’s Coalition on Substance Abuse, said city and health officials have worked hard over the past year to raise awareness in Woburn. Still, it’s not enough.

From Nov. 1, 2015 to March 15 of this year, the city has recorded 33 overdoses – six of them have resulted in death.

According to Jolly, surveys indicate four of five heroin users began their journey to addiction with prescription painkillers.

Addiction has become omnipresent in communities. Jolly’s own nephew, he told the audience, would be late for the film because he was attending a wake for a man who passed away at 26, the result of an overdose.

“That’s the reality of it,” said Jolly.

Jolly introduced James Wahlberg, who wrote the short film, “If Only,” with Michael Yebba. Wahlberg is also executive director of the Mark Wahlberg Foundation.

The screenplay was written to encourage an open dialogue between parents and children.

Wahlberg said the movie, which was filmed entirely in Massachusetts, with a significant portion filmed in Tewksbury, has been shown in communities across the country.

Wahlberg, who calls himself a “recovering person,” said a number of the film’s characters were portrayed by family members, including his son, Jeffery, who starred as Issac Diaz, a teenager trying to fit in at school.

His reasoning was simple: getting people to talk about prescription drugs and opioid addiction.

“I believe for the most part, it’s starting in people’s medicine cabinets,” he said.

Wahlberg said kids are taking pills from those cabinets – some that parents may have forgotten about – and using them
But his is not the only family involved with the film. A number of families who have lost loved ones to addiction are featured at the end of the film, holding photos of a son or daughter.

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The screening of “If Only” at the Brockton War Memorial Building drew a packed crowd of parents and children to learn about the dangers of addiction.

BROCKTON – The screening of a film about the perils of addiction encouraged parents in Brockton on Tuesday to talk to their children about the dangers of abusing prescription painkillers.

Executive producer James Wahlberg, brother of actor Mark Wahlberg, attended the Brockton screening of his new film “If Only” on Tuesday night at the Brockton War Memorial Building. The screening drew about 250 people, said event organizer and Brockton police officer Nancy Leedberg.

“The event was a huge success,” said Leedberg, who is involved with community outreach efforts for the Brockton Police Department. “Jim Wahlberg was very well received, and it was an incredible way to initiate dialogue, for parents to continue the conversation at home regarding the dangers of opioids.”

[patriotledger.com]

A screening of “If Only” is taking place in Brockton at the War Memorial Building, 156 W. Elm St., on Tuesday at 6 p.m. Required advance tickets are still available.

BROCKTON – A new film produced by the brother of Mark Wahlberg aims to open the eyes of Brockton families to the dangers of not having an honest conversation on the abuse of prescription painkillers.

Organizers of an upcoming Brockton screening of “If Only,” a movie produced by James Wahlberg, said that parents who see the film will have an eye-opening experience about how children get into prescription drug abuse, leading to heroin addiction.

“What’s going on in that movie is going on every single day with kids,” said Patrick Cronin, program coordinator for the Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery, who will sit on a discussion panel following the screening on Tuesday night. “It’s true to what’s going on these days, especially in regard to your average family.”

A screening of “If Only” is taking place at the War Memorial Building, 156 W. Elm St., on Tuesday at 6 p.m. Required advance tickets are still available at www.BrocktonPolice.EventBrite.com.

James Wahlberg, who is the head of The Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation, is expected to attend the event and answer questions afterward.

Brockton police officer Nancy Leedberg, who is helping to organize the free event, said she hopes the auditorium at the War Memorial Building will be filled to capacity.

Leedberg said she has seen the film six times already and that it “gets” her every time.

“Ideally, it’s going to start the dialogue with kids and their parents,” Leedberg said. “It’s a message of prevention, but also education, about how prescription medicine abuse progresses to heroin abuse. People aren’t having that conversation. Obviously, you can see that in our statistics from opioid overdoses as well as reversal.”

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National Recovery Month ended in grand fashion on Sept. 30 as residents and town officials gathered at Jordan’s IMAX Theater for the showing of “If Only.”

Written by James Wahlberg, older brother of Mark Wahlberg, and Michael Yebba, the 36-minute movie tells the story of two high school students who find themselves addicted to prescription drugs after only a couple of tries.

The end of the movie is a tribute to the many people who have lost their lives to substance abuse. The movie’s theme song, also called “If Only,” played as their pictures and ages flashed across the 76-foot screen.

Wahlberg said he asked Daniel Wood of New Kids on the Block to write the song.

“Of all the years that he’s been in the music business, he finally feels like he did something important,” said Wahlberg.

Wahlberg also said that every adult in the movie had experienced the real-life loss of a child to substance abuse. He said one parent became involved in the film one week after burying his son, while another parent learned the horrible truth that their child had passed away on Christmas Eve.

“They were the most brave, courageous people I’ve ever met in my entire life,” he said. Wahlberg said his own family has been afflicted by substance abuse as his son used to be addicted to opiates.

“I stuck my head in the sand when it came to my own kid,” he said. “I pretended like it wasn’t true when I knew damn well it was true.”

However, Wahlberg said his son received the help he needed and has been drug-free for three and a half years.

Michelle Lipinski, director of North Shore Recovery High School in Beverly, said parents should start talking to their children about drug prevention when they are in fourth grade.
She also suggested that parents have access to in-home drug testing.

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