The Anonymous People
Last Thursday, I received an email from a respected colleague that is transforming my outlook on addictions recovery.
Tom wrote, in part, “About a year ago I met a young man in recovery named Greg Williams who is active in Connecticut in community and state treatment and recovery advocacy. He is also a filmmaker. He has had a vision about telling the real story about long-term recovery, and mobilizing those (recovering) people.
“I share this with you because perhaps there is a way, if you agree, to help get the word out.”
Tom’s note tugged at my recovering heart. If you’re a person in recovery from alcoholism or drug addiction–or love someone who is–it’s my mission today to tug at your heart.
A Kickstarter campaign
The story of Greg’s work–his documentary, called The Anonymous People–is highlighted in the short video you see in the right sidebar on this page. It’s powerful stuff, and engaging enough to capture the attention of Kickstarter, a funding platform for creative projects. Kickstarter has been featured in Wired Magazine, Time and The New York Times, as well as CNN, NPR and the BBC.
For the full-size version and a detailed description of Greg’s project, as well as information about Kickstarter, go to http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/342545630/the-anonymous-people.
As you’ll see, Greg has invested a ton of cash and passion into bringing his dream to fruition. In order to complete the documentary, he needs $45,000 via Kickstarter. At this writing on Tuesday afternoon, the project is 57% funded with 19 days to raise the remaining funds.
Here is the heart-part
I spoke with Greg this week. He’s a guy who got clean and sober in 2001 when he was 17. He’s also a guy who realized that he spent the first five years of his recovery “crippled by shame and fear” that someone might find out that he was a drug addict. What if his future was somehow jeopardized by someone from an anonymous meeting?
Greg said that being sober–speaking about his recovery only in church basements–felt like he was living a secret life.
It also felt like the sneaky, underground life of addiction.
Around this time, he gave an interview for a local newspaper, after carefully explaining the principles of anonymity to the reporter.
When the article published, the first sentence read, “Greg W., who didn’t want to disclose his last name . . . ”
A friend in the field of addiction and recovery approached him and said, “Greg, if I didn’t know anything about addiction, what would I learn with that first sentence?”
He realized he was perpetuating the stigma of shame around his own disease.
I asked Greg, “Why make this film and why now?”
His answer was both simple and complicated.
He’s a filmaker with a passion for story-telling. He also has a passion for equalizing the media’s sensationalized coverage of celebrity mega-relapses and rehabs with the sensational story that represents the 23 million successful people in America with long-term recovery.
The bottom line is that addicts and alcoholics can speak publicly about their recovery without breaking the traditions of their 12-step groups.
In my mind, they–we–have to. If we want to eliminate the stigma and shame around addiction, if we want addiction to be taken seriously by every medical professional in this country, if we want to change the nature of our disease, we have an obligation.
Greg likens this advocacy effort to the public acceptance of HIV. When Princess Diana, Magic Johnson and Elizabeth Taylor stood up, the nature of that disease changed.
Plea for help
I don’t often plead for anything on this blog and never for money. Until now. In truth, I don’t know Greg, but I do know and respect my colleague Tom.
His endorsement of The Anonymous People is good enough for me.
We have until 11:59 EDT on Sunday, August 26, to be a part of completing this history-making film. As soon as this post is finished and scheduled, I intend to grab my credit card. It is my hope that you’ll do the same. Every single dollar counts.
I’ll be writing more about my chat with Greg along with some history around recovery advocacy throughout the rest of this month. The video will remain in the sidebar for the remainder of the fundraising project. Again, the full-size version is here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/342545630/the-anonymous-people.
Please join us. There’s hope and truth in proudly standing tall.