The Life of Junkie Junior is a cult 1987 documentary which follows the daily routine of 29-year-old heroin addict Junior Rios as he endeavours to sustain his $200 habit through any means possible. Rios lives in the South Bronx, an area which at the time was experiencing a huge crack and heroin epidemic. The film manages to encapsulate both the severe degradation of New York’s most severely deprived New York borough.
The film serves primarily as a portrait into the life of Junior Rios, a 29-year old junkie who looks much older. He spends his days climbing on rooftops stealing antennas and through burned-out buildings finding things which other thieves haven’t spotted to sell for scrap. He survives mainly on coffee-soaked bread. At one point we see his children begging him to quit dope. Ultimately he doesn’t, instead his lifestyle costs him his marriage, he loses his children, and eventually, his lifestyle leads him to jail.
The judge gives him a second chance and he enters rehab, only to escape after a few weeks. The filmmaker finds him again five years later, still heavily addicted to drugs and seemingly on the brink of death and well past the point of no return.