Addiction: Steamfitter's Local 638

The ADDICTION Project brings together leading thinkers and organizations that are at the threshold of new treatments. Current advances in brain imaging science make it possible to see inside the brain of an addicted person, pinpoint the parts of the brain affected by addiction, and see how the addict’s brain differs, ushering in a great many advances in medical treatment. In fact, treatments for addiction are now as effective as treatments for other chronic relapsing diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, or asthma.A candid depiction of the emotional, psychological, social and political toll that addiction takes on the country, the ADDICTION project demonstrates conclusively that the disease is treatable and shows that there are millions of Amercians in long-term recovery.

Through the lenses of several highly accomplished documentary filmmakers, the current state of addiction in America is explored in nine segments, punctuated by the latest thinking of treatment and recovery by leading experts on drug and alcohol addiction.


From HBO

For (her) HBO film, Kopple talks with several tough-guy steamfitters, including Don Perks, one of the union’s biggest drinkers until he got sober and dedicated himself to helping his co-workers. The union had a long history of heavy drinking – on the job and off.

To facilitate recovery, Local 638 became self-insured and created a model 12-step program that includes detox, rehab, and long-term aftercare. The recovery program is geared specifically to the macho culture of the steamfitter, which makes it even more touching to see Perks recall, choking back tears, the alcohol-induced death of a co-worker’s son.


By Diane Holloway

Television Short non-fiction film. HBO.
Barbara Kopple, Director


2007 Governor’s Award
Emmy Awards – Television Academy’s Highest Honor