The term "methadonia" describes a borderland for recovering heroin addicts on methadone maintenance. Here, addicts pass their time mixing methadone with benzodiazepines ("benzos") - a class of drugs used to treat anxiety and insomnia that includes such brand-name prescriptions as Xanax, Klonopin and Valium - which enhance their high, and keep them stuck in a gray area between addiction and "straightland."
Shot over the course of 18 months in New York City's Lower East Side, METHADONIA sheds light on the inherent flaws of legal methadone treatments for heroin addiction by profiling eight addicts, in various stages of recovery and relapse, who attend the New York Center for Addiction Treatment Services (NYCATS). This facility offers group therapy and outpatient support for its clients, many of whom are former heroin addicts now on methadone maintenance.
In addition to providing details on methadone addiction, METHADONIA explores the often-insurmountable obstacles addicts face on the road to rehabilitation. As men and women dream of living drug-free lives, they often find that the "liquid handcuffs" of methadone have robbed them of the physical and emotional willpower to do so.
For director Michel Negroponte, METHADONIA strikes a deeply personal chord. As he explains in the film, his wife's sister was a heroin addict, and was "totally focused on the drug. Nothing else mattered, and nothing seemed capable of stopping her from using, until the overdose that killed her. So one thing I know is that heroin addiction is work. By the time addicts have needle marks running down their veins, it's become the lousiest job you can imagine, with a boss who is screaming at them from inside their own skulls, and no days off."
In addition to the Emmy®-winning "Jupiter's Wife," which also received a Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 1995, Michel Negroponte's directing credits include "Space Coast," "Silver Valley," "No Accident," "W.I.S.O.R." and "The Sightseer."
METHADONIA was produced and directed by Michel Negroponte; written by Nick Pappas; music and sound design, John Putnam and Beo Morales; animation and title design, Lisa Crafts; photographed and edited by Michel Negroponte. For HBO: supervising producer, John Hoffman; executive producer, Shelia Nevins.