by D’Arcy Egan
The battle against opioid addiction has become a life’s work for Lesha Marie Cuttaia and her son, Franklin Holmes, better known Mama Dukes and Frankie in recovery circles, on cutting-edge videos and live Inter- net talk radio shows.
The Port Clinton natives were back home again last week for the premiere of “Dopesick Nation” on the Viceland cable network, which features Frankie and actress Allie Severino as recovering addicts taking on the opioid epidemic. The first of nine Wednesday night episodes, which air at 10 p.m., was celebrated with vi- brant party at Clinton House Restaurant in Port Clinton.
Viceland can also be seen online and is beamed locally on Spectrum cable’s Channel 136.
Frankie and Mama Dukes were also in the 2-hour documentary “American Relapse,” which has been making the rounds of film festivals around the U.S. and the world. On Sunday, Sept. 16 it was featured at the Montana International Film Festival in Billings, Mont.
“‘American Relapse’ is very raw, very real,” said Holmes, 38. “About as real as we could get about what goes on out there.”
The documentary is not only about addiction, and the perils faced by addicts and their families because of drugs.
“It also uncovered the greed in the recovery industry,” he said. “Not all treatment centers are in the business for all the right reasons. Some become predatory, and do unethical things to make more money.
“Parents in Ohio might have a kid in treatment in Florida, and are getting positive reports,” said Holmes. “In reality, the kid is back on the streets getting high and the Medical insurance money is being misspent.”
Cuttaia discovered Frankie was having serious problems with drugs while in college. She ended up changing jobs, working for a mental health and addiction clinic in Toledo, eventually becoming licensed chem- ical dependency counselor trying to learn the ins and outs of the addiction industry and keep her son drug free.
About five years ago, she began creating podcasts and radio shows to reach addicts and their families. Cuttaia had a show on VoiceAmerica, “Shattering the Stigma” and has Facebook shows that reach about 7 million lis- teners. She helped to create the F**k Heroin Foundation, that has both a website and a Facebook page. Her radio show, has been archived on VoiceAmerica.com.
Although she never planned on appearing in “Dopesick Nation” and “American Relapse,” her constant goal is to connect with addicts, their families and friends to provide answers and advice.
“It certainly keeps us busy,” she said with a smile. “It took about 500 hours of filming to create the nine shows in the ‘Dopesick Nation’ series. I hope everyone watches some of the episodes. They’re real eye-openers about addiction in America.”