Former House Speaker Tip O’Neill once said, “All politics is local.” As a recovering politico and alcoholic, all politics—and all recovery—has become local and personal to me. If you are anything like me, you know recovery works when we get honest about ourselves to share our experience, strength and hope with others. Luckily for us, groups like Facing Addiction, a national non-profit organization, exist for the sole purpose of “rebranding addiction” to help people get personal—and go public—about what their recovery means to them.
On October 4th, 2015, Facing Addiction will bring recovery to the forefront with the UNITE to Face Addiction rally in Washington, DC. The rally has attracted notable celebrities, including Steven Tyler, Sheryl Crow, Joe Walsh from the Eagles, members of The Fray and John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls, who are all scheduled to perform. This will be the first national attempt to unite all sorts of advocacy groups for addiction. The event is scheduled to take place at the National Mall and is expected to gather 100,000 people (including me!). A rally at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and a march to the White House will proceed the event on October 3rd.
The main event on October 4th will run from approximately 4 to 8 pm and will include a “call to action.” Speakers from treatment advocacy groups as well as that star-studded lineup of musical guests will get personal about how recovery affects them by addressing the negative stigma that can change when enough (awesome) people say enough is enough: “The history of the advocacy movement in America,” organizer Michael King explains, “is the effect of stigma and shoddy policy.” This event will be a day of advocacy to “achieve a health response to addiction” and “improve public safety and protect civil liberties to enhance health outcomes of those in or seeking recovery from addiction involved with the criminal justice system.” Action steps include thanking members of Congress who co-sponsor The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), asking members of Congress to co-sponsor CARA because of its bi-partisan appeal, and asking members of Congress to support the REDEEM Act.
UNITE to Face Addiction started as an inspiration that became a reality: “The success of the film The Anonymous People, ignited the UNITE Against Addiction movement,” King says. People in the film shared their experiences in recovery, without the fear of being seen as recovering alcoholics and addicts. The bravery of people sharing their personal stories encouraged the founders of Facing Addiction to take recovery a step further with this event. Participants in the film and over 400 groups of recovery organizations will be present, including the National Drug Court Association, the Unified Prevention Coalition and the Chris Atwood organization. The success of this event depends on the people and organizations who step up in a public forum to talk about addiction and policies that affect over 23 million Americans.
The UNITE to Face Addiction rally builds momentum as the days inch closer to October 4th. Outreach team members and partners for the event are gathering support as I write this. Recovery advocates, politicos and former politicos like myself will join Washingtonians for an event worth remembering—one that just might spark a movement.