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NIDA. (2011, October 4). Behind the Curtain of the Addiction Performance Project. Retrieved from

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Sara Bellum
October 4 2011

Poet and playwright T.S. Eliot said, “A play should give you something to think about.” That’s exactly what happens with a new NIDA project—called the Addiction Performance Project. It illustrates the emotional toll drug addiction takes on people and their families and gets the audience to talk about it.

At a recent performance, award-winning professional actors, including Debra Winger, performed a dramatic reading of Act III of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day's Journey Into Night. Based on O’Neill’s own family, this play shows how, over the course of just 1 day, a family can fall apart when addiction rules over it. In this family, the mother is addicted to morphine and starts abusing it again, and the father and sons, who are alcoholics, drink to cope with her relapse.

By putting a human face on addiction, the Addiction Performance Project helps break down the stigma—or discrimination and judgment—associated with this disease. The Addiction Performance Project reading is followed by a discussion with scientists, doctors, and medical students on the challenges and opportunities in treating people who are addicted to drugs.

Watch the video below to see snippets of the Addiction Performance Project, performed here by Blythe Danner (Gwyneth Paltrow’s mother) and other actors.