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A&E’s ‘Dope Man’ confronts America’s opioid crisis

August 2, 2017
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Dope Man Tim Ryan of A&E's "Dope Man," which premiered July 31 at 10 pm ET/PT. Dope Man Tim Ryan of A&E's "Dope Man," which premiered July 31 at 10 pm ET/PT. (Photo courtesy of A&E Network)

An in-depth exploration of America’s opioid addiction epidemic is at the center of “Dope Man,” a one-hour reality TV pilot, which premiered on July 31 on A&E. 

“Dope Man” features recovering addict Tim Ryan, a former Chicago-based business executive-turned-addict who has made it his life’s mission to help others overcome addiction to opioids. Before embracing recovery himself, Ryan lost his son to heroin addiction.

“This is one of the worst crises in American history,” says “Dope Man” producer Jason Hervey. Best known for his portrayal of Wayne Arnold, the older brother on TV’s “The Wonder Years” (1988-1993), Hervey and his production company - Bischoff Hervey Entertainment - are behind the new show.

“Heroin’s murderous wrath doesn’t care if you’re young, old, male or female, son or daughter, it only wants to kill you and it is killing people at a record rate,” Hervey said during a phone interview.

More than 80 percent of drug-related deaths in Maine in 2016 involved opiates, including heroin, fentanyl or prescription painkillers like OxyContin. In total, there were 376 drug overdoses in Maine last year, a 40 percent increase over the previous year. In the United States, drug overdoses claim the lives of 144 people per day – more than one per day in Maine. It is the number one killer of people under the age of 50.

Since he embraced recovery, Tim Ryan’s crusade to help other addicts has drawn attention to his unconventional in-your-face approach to confronting addiction, leading to invitations to speak at medical and law enforcement conventions around the country - and an invitation from President Obama to attend the 2016 State of the Union Address.

“Tim Ryan is the real deal,” Hervey told me. “He’s had an extremely dark, challenging and scary past. He lost his son to heroin and is honest about the fact that he did heroin with his own son. Tim has devoted his life to getting people into recovery. He feels an incredible amount of remorse and responsibility for what happened to him when he was addicted to heroin. If he slows down and thinks about it for too long, it’s too much to accept. He won’t stop until he’s helped as many people as he possibly can.”

To draw attention to “Dope Man,” A&E scheduled the one-hour premiere to follow the highly-rated series “Intervention,” now in its 19th season on the network.

Hervey says that he has never been addicted to drugs, but has seen his share of it as a member of the entertainment industry.

“Growing up in this business, I’ve seen addiction and I know how it effects people,” he said. “You feel helpless when you see someone you know become addicted to drugs. This show is very important to me. Some of it is not easy to watch, but we can’t look away because that’s when opiates kill. It’s important that as many people as possible see this show.”

The pilot episode for “Dope Man” can be streamed now at 

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