The New Recovery Advocacy Movement


“It takes a lifetime to get a moment of clarity.” ~ Heard recently in a 12-step meeting

There is a lot of wisdom to be had in rooms where the topic of conversation is solution-oriented addiction recovery.  Sometimes the trick is allowing myself to listen.

When I first entered recovery in 1991, there were a lot of crotchety old-timers spouting pearls like, “Take the cotton of your ears and put it in your mouth,” or “You have one mouth and two ears so listen twice as much as you speak.”

I was pretty much petrified of those old farts.

But they taught me a valuable lesson that seems to grow in importance with each year.

There are no graduating ceremonies for people in recovery.

To the outside world, 35 or 40 years of recovery is impressive.  Okay, that amount of time is impressive to me too.  But today I learned that 90-days of sober-time is even more impressive.

My God, when I look at the beautiful faces of the men and women–and the occasional teenager–picking up a 30-, 60- or 90-day chip representing their desire to continue to stay sober, I get a deep-resonating warmth that begins with my smile and flows down into my belly.

I’m looking at a miracle when I look into those faces.

And I’m humbled by each one’s willingness to stand up to the demon of addiction one more day.  In some ways, the easiest hour of their day is the one spent in a meeting, or maybe talking with a sponsor, or participating in step work.

I’m here to tell you folks, the other 23 hours of a newcomer’s day are harder than hell.  They go back out into a world that isn’t equipped to understand their recovery lives or, frankly, to give them any breaks for stepping into a sober world.

That’s where we come in–we the collective We.

Referring to the quote at the top of this post, I’ve been blessed by several moments of clarity since 1991, moments when the proverbial light bulb maxed out at several thousand watts.

But the moment of clarity I’m experiencing now, the one that involves “outing” recovery to change the addiction conversation from problems to solutions (tagline borrowed from my new favorite movie, The Anonymous People), is light years ahead of all my other moments of clarity.

The movie, The Anonymous People, is part of the New Recovery Advocacy Movement that seeks to create a society where people in recovery can be themselves for ALL of the 24 hours of their days, without shame and without stigma.

It’s worked before, you know.  Remember when breast cancer was talked about in quiet, hand-held-over-mouth conversations?  Remember when HIV/AIDS emerged from behind closed doors as a powerful grassroots social justice movement?

WE can do it again.  There are 23.5 million Americans  in recovery who don’t have the advantage of living a fully “out” recovery life like I do.  And I guarantee you that the majority of this country is not aware that addiction comes with an annual $350 billion societal price tag.

Well, as we say here in Texas, that’s all fixin’ to change.  We owe it to the millions of people in long-term recovery.  More importantly, we owe it to all the bright faces filled with hope as they pick up their 30-, 60- and 90-day chips.

Who’s with me?

For more information about how you can bring The Anonymous People to your city or town, click here

Photo courtesy of grietgriet

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  1. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for this post!!!! You have framed the challenge – creating “a society where people in recovery can be themselves for ALL of the 24 hours of their days, without shame and without stigma” – so beautifully. I’m with you, and as we do this for those in addiction recovery, we need to do it for their family members and friends – those who’ve experienced the devastating impacts of secondhand drinking|drugging. For as we help them – especially the children – we break the cycles. And as you reminded us – there was a time when cancer and HIV where surrounded by shame and stigma – so, together, we can do the same for addiction and addiction recovery – bring it out of the shadows – talk about it as the brain disease it is and recovery as what happens when you treat the disease as you would treat any other disease. (And, I, too, loved “The Anonymous People!!!”)

    • Beth says:

      Lisa, I love your enthusiasm! Thank YOU for your support, not only with the movie, but with our cause, through the work you do and the lives you touch. Just like it takes a village to raise a child, so too does it take every voice to amplify the conversation.

      Appreciate you!

  2. Thank you Beth. This movement is really exciting!! I can’t wait to help spread the word and ‘feel’ it happening. Love the quote – ‘It takes a lifetime to get a moment of clarity’.

    • Beth says:

      You are already helping, Leslie. Each post, each Tweet, each conversation takes us a step closer to changing history. From one mouth or keyboard to two or 10, then 100, and on and on! Let’s add “one voice at a time” to “one day at a time.”

  3. Hey Beth,

    I’ll add in my thank you as well. Such a great film and we do need to get it out to the world. I appreciate all your efforts in getting this documentary out into the public. This is a great misunderstanding by so many about what recovery is and can be. I still feel the stigma among friends who are uncomfortable talking about the topic. We do need to take the cotton out of our mouth to spread the word.

    • Beth says:

      I know what you mean, Cathy. Just this afternoon I was telling my father about the film and I could hear his voice on the phone take on a “that’s nice, dear” tone. I know it wasn’t intentional, but he has no desire to know the details. Although that hurts my heart a bit, I try to focus on the people who’s eyes and ears can open. Mouths too!

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