Addiction is a Chronic Disease, Says HBO ADDICTION Project

Dates of Project: June 2006 through January 2009

Problem Synopsis: By 2005, one in four Americans had a family member who struggled with addiction. In 2005, there were 23.2 million Americans who needed treatment for their illicit drug or alcohol abuse problems, but only about 10 percent received the treatment they needed.

Synopsis of the Work: HBO ran a 90-minute documentary, "Addiction," as part of the Addiction Project that aimed to increase awareness that addiction is a chronic brain disease. In addition, Join Together distributed DVDs of "Addiction" to addiction treatment organizations and individual treatment providers.

RWJF, the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) supported the 90-minute documentary and also funded a 30-city outreach campaign. Join Together, Faces & Voices of Recovery and Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) conducted the mobilization effort to promote the series.

Key Show Results

HBO used all of its digital platforms in showing and promoting the Addiction Project. These include the HBO main service, multiplex channels, HBO On Demand, podcasts, web streams and DVD sales. The major components of the Addiction Project included:

  • A nine-part centerpiece documentary, "Addiction," aired on HBO in March 2007. It won the Governors Award from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in September 2007.
  • A supplementary series of 13 films and a complementary series of four independent addiction-themed films.
  • A companion book published by Rodale Press, Addiction: Why Can't They Just Stop? edited by John Hoffman and Susan Froemke.
  • A website on addiction, treatment and recovery.

Key Outreach Results

Join Together, Faces & Voices of Recovery and CADCA conducted a grassroots outreach that targeted 30 cities.

  • Staff worked with HBO regional directors in 13 HBO Premier Cities that together held more than 30 premiers of the show.
  • Website: Between February 6, 2007, and the end of September 2007, the website attracted 134,000 visitors (of whom 98,000 were unique) and 396 page views. Visitors came from all 50 states.
  • Community events included house parties in 41 states, town hall meetings in 134 communities, and state capital presentations and briefings in 41 states.