September is Recovery Month
“There are two ways of spreading the light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” ~ Edith Wharton
Four years ago this month, my sweetie and I walked hand-in-hand with 10,000 other folks in recovery across the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City. There were lots of friends, family, and in our case, colleagues, walking shoulder-to-shoulder in support.
That warm September day is forever etched in my memory. That day was filled with hope for a time when recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs is celebrated by all of society just as cancer and heart disease recovery are celebrated.
We are well on our way
I suspect this year’s Rally for Recovery, set for the 21st in Providence, RI, will reflect the hums and rumbles of the national conversation around recovery beginning to occur in towns and cities across the nation.
The dialogue is shifting from the increasingly archaic notion that addiction is a moral failing to one of addiction being an illness, just as diabetes or HIV/AIDS are diseases.
We’re not bad people intentionally wrecking our lives and the lives of our loved ones. We are sick people trying to get well. We deserve the same availability of supportive care as someone suffering from other illnesses.
The voices of recovery are rising, amplified by their collective nature. Many of the voices are coming from the thousands who have seen or will see The Anonymous People this month and next. (For screening information, go to http://theanonymouspeople.com/movie/).
People from all walks of life are committing their voices to speak publicly about their own recovery and about how addiction costs the United States more than $350 billion dollars annually. That’s billion with a B.
They’re telling the story of how addiction affects 20 million people in this country but only one person in 10 gets the treatment he or she needs.
The New Addiction Recovery Advocacy Movement
Smoking. Breast cancer. HIV/AIDS. All three social/medical issues were once considered taboo subjects. Addiction continues to receive similar treatment. Too many addicted people are still ostracized from their jobs, their places of worship and their community functions when their “dirty little secret” is discovered.
Why? Because with a few exceptions, the culture of American mass media feeds upon and glorifies the problems caused by addiction. Think Celebrity Rehab. Think about the damning of one celebrity after another following relapses. Think about the nightly news and the way addiction is reported as bad behavior.
The recovery advocacy movement is on track to change the public’s perception. Much of our work begins with the media’s portrayal of addiction and that’s where our grassroots effort of forcing members of the media to see us differently comes in.
The Anonymous People is a huge leap in the right direction. Faces & Voices of Recovery, an organization that’s been around for more than a decade, specializes in rallying the recovery community. Later this week, a web site giving viewers of The Anonymous People specific next steps, will launch.
We have the tools and we’re ready for change. Recovery advocates are a growing constituency. We’re no longer hiding behind masks or veils. We will not stop until unprecedented change occurs that eliminates the shame and stigma of the disease.
Help us speak out. Greg Williams, the director of The Anonymous People, says that one-third of Americans are impacted directly with the disease of addiction and two-thirds are impacted indirectly.
Don’t you think it’s time we elevated this conversation?