By JuWan Graham, CBW 62/CW50 Intern

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” -Mike Tyson.

This quotation never rang truer for two Michigan filmmakers who battled through substance abuse and made a film about that very same issue entitled Life Prescribed which will premiere on October 20.

"Life Prescribed" Filmmaker Kyle Couch - used with permission from Kyle Couch

“Life Prescribed” Filmmaker Matthew Santia – used with permission from Kyle Couch

"Life Prescribed" Filmmaker Matthew Santia - used with permission from Kyle Couch

“Life Prescribed” Filmmaker Kyle Couch – used with permission from Kyle Couch

Kyle Couch of Pontiac and writer Matthew Santia of Fraser both are award winning filmmakers and have wanted to be in films for a while. Couch knew he wanted to be in films since watching Jurassic Park at age six. Meanwhile Santia earned a degree in Screenwriting from the University of Southern California and master’s degree from Full Sail University. But those dreams quickly faded.

Couch turned to heroin to deal with personal issues after high school. And Santia developed an addiction to painkillers while nursing injuries for surgeries. The addiction continued for 12 years.

“No one sets out to become a drug addict,” Santia said. “My prescriptions were supposed to last a month, but would be gone in eight days. The drug addiction turned me into a monster. I wasn’t living, but somehow I was existing. I would do really weird things and go to great lengths to get drugs.”

Both Couch and Santia were able to find the help they needed by joining Grace Centers of Hope’s intensive treatment program. It was there that both individuals met each other and Joseph Atwell, the subject of the film. They were all able to get the help that they needed and much more.

“At first I didn’t like Atwell,” said Santia, now sober for 18 months. “I thought he was arrogant, but later I realized that it was my own defensiveness against addicts. I didn’t really want to be considered one of them. Today, he’s one of my best friends and he inspires me. The film helps to humanize the issue of drug addiction while reminding viewers about the need for help and support.”

Now with that support, they hope their film brings about awareness not only for those dealing with substance abuse, but the families involved.

Life Prescribed follows Joseph Atwell’s profound story of a man from of Waterford, Michigan whose struggle with opioid addiction, the bizarre methods he used to obtain narcotics, and his search for lasting redemption is the stuff literally made for Hollywood.

“We hope this film brings the skeletons of substance abuse out of family closets,” said Couch. “It is a very dark world and Life Prescribed doesn’t gloss it over. Our hope is that lives will be impacted after watching our film. Once the addict admits and commits to receiving help there is HOPE. For the three of us, it was about recognizing the need for God in our lives. We have all said to each other that we were meant to make these kind of films.”

For the premiere, they would like it to be of glitz and glamour. “There aren’t a lot of film premieres in Michigan,” said Santia. “So if you want to get dressed up, see the excitement of cameras flashing and walk the red carpet, this is the opportunity for everyone.”

The red carpet, public premiere of Life Prescribed will be held on Thursday, Oct. 20 at the Landmark Main Art Theatre, 118 N. Main Street, Royal Oak, Mich. Visit to purchase tickets. You can find a preview of Life Prescribed on their YouTube channel.

JuWan Graham is an aspiring public relations practitioner with a passion for writing and sports, and currently interning at CBS62 and CW50.  He is a senior attending Eastern Michigan University, majoring in Public Relations while minoring in Marketing.


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