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Film Brings Addiction Front and Center

Many of those in long-term recovery programs want to foster an open discussion about the disease of addiction and treatment instead of incarceration.

From a press release about a film coming to Athens:

A feature film about the 23.5 million Americans living in long-term recovery and the emerging public recovery movement will be shown at The Morton Theatre on May 2nd. Tickets are available now by calling 706-613-3770. You can view a trailer by clicking here. 

“The Anonymous People,” sneak preview is sponsored by The Addiction Recovery Collaborative of Georgia. It features interviews with more than 30 people among the millions in long-term recovery from drug and alcohol addiction who are making the courageous decision to speak out publicly.

They, and the film, question why the United States has criminalized, and too often given superficial treatment to, a chronic illness – addiction.  As a result, addiction now comes with an annual price tag of $350 billion. The American approach has put most of the burden of long-term addiction treatment on anonymous, free, 12-step programs. Those programs have done a good job, but no other health problem is treated this way.

In addition, the culture of anonymity in these programs, while it has protected individuals from stigma, has also unintentionally perpetuated false perceptions of people with addiction – because the public doesn’t see how often people in their lives recover.

What would happen, the film asks, if diabetes or heart disease were treated as addiction often is: End stage illness, only in emergency rooms or short-term treatment, with little, if any, follow-up care?

“This film is not your tired old addiction story often seen on reality television or in the news,” said film producer Greg Williams. “There are no needles hanging out of people’s arms, pictures of the brain, or fried eggs in a pan. We set out to find the answer to one very fundamental question: Why don’t we treat addiction in this country like any other health issue?”

“The Anonymous People” also shines a light on prominent people who are not very anonymous and are living publicly as people in long-term recovery themselves: Award winning actress Kristen Johnston, former NBA star Chris Herren; Tara Conner, Miss USA 2006; former congressman Patrick Kennedy; veteran news anchor Laurie Dhue; Tom Coderre, chief of staff to Rhode Island Senate president and many others.  They have chosen to “come out” with their recovery in an effort to counter the existing public perception of other people just like them.

This film aims at transforming public discourse in much the same way that activists once decided that an honest open discussion had to take place about topics such as breast cancer, HIV/AIDS, and being gay in order to spark widespread change.

Paula Loniak April 30, 2013 at 01:58 PM
I think EVERYone should see this film. We ALL know someone or ARE someone who either is in recovery, or SHOULD be in recovery, from alcoholism/addiction, which has been recognized as a DISEASE by the American Medical Association. Our prisons are filled with many people who need TREATMENT rather than incarceration. I hope enough people see this film and learn about the people who are in long-term recovery & leading productive, SOBER, lives---possibly your accountant, your minister, your teacher, your attorney, your doctor, your....self?
Rebecca McCarthy (Editor) April 30, 2013 at 03:51 PM
I am hoping a lot of people go to see it, too, Paula!

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