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A group of journalism students from UT’s College of Communication and Information have worked with the Metro Drug Coalition to produce a thirty-minute documentary about the opiate epidemic in East Tennessee.

Reaching Recovery
Land Grant Film students film an interview with Karen Pershing, executive director of Metro Drug Coalition for the documentary Reaching Recovery.

Reaching Recovery: Pregnancy and Addiction in East Tennessee will premiere at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 10, at the Knox County Health Department auditorium, 140 Dameron Avenue. The premiere will be broadcast live on WBIR and will include a panel discussion to follow. Those attending in person should be at the auditorium by 6:30 p.m.

Last year alone, nearly a thousand babies in Tennessee were born drug dependent.

Reaching Recovery presents a comprehensive view of the problem through interviews with medical experts, addiction specialists, policy makers, and mothers who have struggled with addiction.

The film premiere will be followed by a panel discussion lead by local WBIR-TV anchor Robin Wilhoit. Panelists will be Martha Buchanan, director of the Knox County Health Department; Karen Pershing, executive director of the Metro Drug Coalition; Carla Saunders, neonatal nurse practitioner from East Tennessee Children’s Hospital; and Evan Sexton, director of Renaissance Preferred Prenatal Outcomes Network.

The premiere and panel discussion are open to the public.

Reaching Recovery was produced by UT’s Land Grant Films, an extracurricular documentary journalism program housed in the School of Journalism and Electronic Media that provides students with real-world experience in documentary storytelling while providing local nonprofit organizations with video assets.

The documentary was directed by journalism professor Nick Geidner, edited by journalism graduate student Clinton Elmore, and produced by undergraduate students Abby Bower and Hannah Marley along with Nichole Stevens, a recent graduate of the college’s master’s degree program. Six additional students served in a variety of other roles on the production.

“We hope this documentary will add a clear and resonating voice to the problem of pregnancy and addiction in East Tennessee,” said Geidner. “The learning process for the students involved has been challenging because of the serious subject and heart-wrenching stories they heard. I am very proud of the dedication they have demonstrated in producing a quality documentary that offers a real service to important groups in our community.”


 Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,