is Recovery in Action


(This is the first in a regular Thursday series about addiction and recovery.)

“We’ve certainly sold addiction in this country but we don’t sell hope very well.” ~ Greg Williams

Ask anyone if he or she knows an alcoholic or a drug addict and they’ll probably give you a long response about their brother-in-law’s drunken rampages or their aunt’s booze and pill bottles stashed throughout her house.  You’ve heard those stories.  You may have even starred in the story.  I sure did.

But if you ask whether they know anyone in recovery for addiction and ask them to describe what that person’s life is like in recovery, you’re likely to get a somewhat blank stare.  Either they don’t know anyone in recovery or, if they do, all they can say is “Yeah, he quit drinking” or “I heard she was going to those AAA meetings.” (Seriously, I’ve known people who confuse Alcoholics Anonymous with the motor club organization.)

Why should the public know more about what life is like for someone who has entered recovery?  How can they possibly know about the hope Greg Williams mentions in the above quote?  After all, people in recovery–even long-term recovery–are living the best-kept public secret of our time.

The Anonymous People

You may have heard of Greg.  Anyone who knows me very well at all has heard of Greg and his Kickstarter-backed, wildly successful independent documentary film about the 23 million people in America in long-term recovery.  Doesn’t that number blow you away?

I’ve written about the movie here and referenced both it and the New Recovery Advocacy Movement several times.

Greg’s movie has propelled the movement forward by light years for two reasons.  First, Greg is an incredibly visionary guy.  He’s distilled decades of the historical aspect of recovery, talked with and interviewed gazillions of people, shot a boatload of film and cobbled it together into a 90-minute powerhouse.

Have I mentioned that at this writing, The Anonymous People has grossed $200,000 in box office sales and has been viewed by about 50,000 people including some high-level folks at the White House?

The second reason TAP  has lit a firecracker under the recovery advocacy movement is because, folks, we’re living in a perfect storm.

America (and many other countries that have embraced the film, including Australia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Canada, and New Zealand) suffers a collective form of PTSD after years of train-wreck reality shows and celebrity overdoses.  Don’t you think it’s time to hear about the hope of recovery? 


People are shaking it up.  They’re learning the difference between the anonymity traditions of their 12-step organizations and advocating for recovery (click here for Advocacy With Anonymity pamphlet).

They’re learning how to share their stories at Rotary meetings, in church groups, city council meetings and schools in a way that presents recovery in a positive light.

They’re learning how–if they choose–to visit with city leaders and congressional and senate staff at the state and federal level.  They’re learning the phenomenal power of the ballot box as they help enact initiatives, statutes and laws.

But most importantly, people in recovery are learning their worth and value as citizens of this great country.  They’re allowing their recovery lights to shine and people are beginning to respond, like the good people of Boston who elected their first person in long-term recovery to that city’s highest office (Mayor Marty Walsh took the oath of office earlier this week.). is The Anonymous People and recovery in action.  Visit the site, watch a few videos and get a feel for addiction recovery’s new culture.  You can also visit us on Facebook and Twitter, and as always, drop a note here in the comments section.

“We will shape the future of recovery with a detached silence or with a passionate voice.” – Bill White

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  1. This is SUCH AN EXCITING movement!! Thank you, Beth, for all you are doing to raise awareness. For as you write, we all know someone with addiction but we rarely speak with respect and honor for the people we know in recovery – either because we don’t know they’re in recovery or the shame and secrecy that so firmly shrouds this disease and anyone who has it keeps us from doing so. I’ll do my part to spread the word!!

  2. Beth says:

    You do your part every day, Lisa, and I’m thrilled to be a part of this posse of folks who help bring light to the darkness. Let’s be loud and proud!! One day, and I pray the day occurs in my generation, the light of recovery will shine brightly.

    All the best!!

  3. Love the enthusiasm. It is contagious and hopefully will filter out to the masses. The Anonymous People was amazing and I agree that it feels like their is a shift happening. It is wonderful that you are supporting the worthy cause that is so needed!!

  4. Beth says:

    Hey, you’re no slouch in the support department, Cathy! We’re all in this big soup bowl together!

  5. Beth, you are awesome. Thanks so much for all you are doing here! This movement WILL make a difference!

    • Beth says:

      Thank you so much, Leslie, and right back at you! If enough of us believer, you’re right, we will shift perception around addiction and recovery.

  6. It’s amazing to me, Beth, how the power of hope is all too often forgotten when it comes to interventions for substance, emotional, mental situations. Blah, blah, blah – the traditional chat goes on, as the client sits there with absolutely nothing to motivate her/him to somehow put one foot in front of the other. And then there’s sharing – the best way to convey and receive hope. From day one of my recovery (working on 30 years) I swore I’d share the details of my journey whenever appropriate. I just wanted someone to benefit from what I’d been through. Thank you for your enthusiastic and “hopeful” piece, Beth…

    • Beth says:

      It’s really quite simple, isn’t it, Bill? Once I get honest with whatever is going on with me–and then share it with someone else–I become a little more transparent, and hope blossoms because the seeds of recovery are firmly rooted. I actually just finished watching the movie, Thanks for Sharing, and the story of hope was woven throughout as each person got honest with themselves about their disease. Oddly enough, the movie was billed as a comedy, when to me it was a dramatic portrayal of the gut-level reality of addiction.

      So glad you took time to write. I appreciate it, and you.

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