Health Check: 'The Anonymous People'
Former state Sen. Tom Coderre was arrested for possession of crack on April 23, 2003.
"My addiction had such a hold of me that when I left that courthouse, that was my only coping mechanism," he said.
The next three weeks, Coderre said he was in active addiction until he violated his parole and was arrested again.
"It took getting arrested for me to really wake up," he said. "I was a member of the state Senate for eight years and my addiction took that from me. The shame and secrecy are just as deadly as the addiction itself."
That's why Coderre said he agreed to be a part of a new documentary called "The Anonymous People" that aims to erase the stigma of addiction and focus on treatment and recovery.
In the beginning of the film, producer Greg Williams refers to people by labels. He introduces Coderre as a crack head.
"He does that in the beginning of the film I think to make a point that oftentimes this is the way society looks upon people with addiction," Coderre said.
Addiction affects a cross-section of people, including actress Kristen Johnston and former Rhode Island U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy. The former congressman is also in the documentary.
"Patrick talks about what he didn't have. His story is similar to mine because we were both public officials and he talks about the fact that he didn't have the option of being anonymous, but he did have the option of making a difference," Coderre said.
Kennedy's high profile bouts with addiction helped him pass landmark parity legislation and better access to care. That's in the film.
But for Coderre, recovery was a process.
"There's a famous saying in recovery circles that if you walk 10 miles into the woods, you have to walk 10 miles out," he said.
Three years after his arrest, Coderre was living in a halfway house, talking to NBC 10's Mario Hilario about his recovery.
Ten years later, Coderre is the chief of staff to Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed.
"What finally turned me around was my last time in prison," he said.
Todd Bourassa is in long-term recovery and one of the hundreds of people who got to see the 90-minute documentary at a recent showing.
"I think people will really benefit," he said.
"The Anonymous People" has not been publicly released but could be available this fall.