According to the CDC, an estimated 50 million Americans suffer from chronic pain.

Many turn to medications for relief.

Sometimes they’re effective. Sometimes they aren’t. And sometimes individuals develop debilitating addictions to the painkillers they once thought helpful.

Directed by Kent Bassett and Marion Cunningham, “This Might Hurt” is a vital documentary for medical professionals and their patients living with chronic primary pain.

Over 5 years in the making, the film follows three individuals at wits’ end after years of enduring mysterious pain not caused by structural or tissue damage and the treatments they’ve tried that didn’t provide substantial relief or a healthy long-term solution.

Open-minded, the group enters a program run by Dr. Howard Schubiner at Providence Hospital in Southfield, Michigan that seeks to uncover the hidden causes of pain, instances like stress and trauma, and essentially re-train the brain through emotional processing to not have a brain-induced pain response.

The treatment explored in the film, EAET (Emotional Awareness and Expression Therapy), isn’t meant for individuals solely experiencing secondary pain caused by various medical conditions like cancer or things such as fractures, infections or other detectable causes. The filmmakers do an excellent job of clarifying this at various points in the film, as well as explaining that primary and secondary pain can co-exist. The ease in which knowledge is shared really helps lessen any skepticism one may have and builds a solid framework for viewers to feel like they can trust the information that’s being given and not feel as though they’re being peddled to or given false hope or expectations about the therapy.

The stories of the three individuals featured are heartrending and will be relatable for many. Sharing such personal aspects of their lives on-screen puts them in an obviously vulnerable position. Bassett and Cunningham approach their subjects with sensitivity and utmost respect, and the openness of these individuals serves as a reminder that in vulnerability there is tremendous strength and courage.

Illuminating and moving, “This Might Hurt” opens eyes to a new approach that should be considered in light of the on-going opioid epidemic across America. The film doesn’t sugarcoat things. It presents facts and human stories. It shows successes of the therapy but also how the complex nature of each person’s experience can shape the outcome and whether the relief they find will be on-going or not.

By the end of the film, you’ll be reflecting on why physicians are so quick to prescribe opioids and saddened for the countless people in the throes of addiction that haven’t heard about this type of forward-thinking treatment or don’t have access to physicians in their communities that practice it.

A fascinating watch, “This Might Hurt” is a beacon that could help light a new course for many.

“This Might Hurt” is available for streaming on the film’s website. There will also be a live Virtual Watch Party on May 25th featuring a screening of the film and Q&A with the film’s directors Kent Bassett and Marion Cunningham and special guests Howard Schubiner, MD, and Tanner Murtagh MSW, RSW. For more info, click here.