‘Devastated’ Is the Wake-Up Call We Need

May 17, 2024 | Announcements

By: Christian Toto

Fentanyl isn’t just a Colorado problem. It’s everywhere, and by all reasonable measures, it’s getting worse.

“Devastated: Colorado’s Fentanyl Disaster” zeroes in on the blue state for a (mostly) apolitical look at the roiling crisis.

Soft-on-crime policies can’t help but elbow their way into the documentary, but the stories of young lives lost to the crisis keep the emphasis where it belongs.

Something must be done. And soon.

“Devastated” opens with a harrowing 911 call.

Five Colorado residents died from taking Fentanyl, a ghastly primer for the crisis in play. We hear from law enforcement, drug counselors, coroners and others on the front lines of the losing battle.

Fentanyl is wildly addictive, fatal in tiny doses and lurking in pills that trick unsuspecting users. Forget crack and Meth. This Opioid is the mother of all drugs, courtesy of Mexican drug cartels too eager to make a profit.

There’s a China connection, too, although that angle isn’t explored in great depth.

The film deftly balances first-person testimonies, statistics and strong visuals to make the case for action. Most of all, we meet the families who lost loved ones from the drug.

Steffan Tubbs (“Denver in Decay”) floods the screen with home movies of those gone too soon, youthful faces brimming with potential.

They’re gone, all gone, and more will join them shortly.

“Devastated” strains to leave politics off screen. The filmmakers tried to interview both Denver Mayor Mike Johnston and Gov. Jared Polis.

Both declined.

Their absence speaks volumes, but the blame often falls on both parties in both Colorado and D.C. An early clip shows a Republican and Democrat joining forces for legislation to defang Colorado drug laws.

Tubbs, formerly a right-leaning talk show host as well as fair and balanced news anchor, can’t help but pin some of the problem on what’s briefly referred to as “one-party rule.” Colorado may have been purple in the recent past, but it’s cobalt blue in 2024.

Who else deserves the blame, especially given the chaos in blue-controlled cities nationwide?

FAST FACT: The CDC says Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin and is illegally added to other drugs to make them “cheaper, more powerful, more addictive and more dangerous.”

The Fentanyl crisis could fuel a 10-part docu-series, but “Devastated” proves both efficient and comprehensive. We learn how social media connects teens to the drug, how our porous southern border makes matters worse and the most ghoulish part of the cartel’s mindset.

For every Coloradan who dies from Fentanyl, another 10 customers replace them.

“Devastated” could use a slight trimming, and a few early anecdotes add little to the subject in hand. Otherwise, the documentary moves briskly, balances powerful interviews with chilling facts and is never less than absorbing.

And, sadly, all too necessary.

HiT or Miss: “Devastated: Colorado’s Fentanyl Disaster” is a cultural battle cry to do something, anything to stem the flood of Opioids into the country.