There is a fairly decent chance that someone in your life, a friend, a co-worker, or a family member has the disease of addiction. If you are lucky, he or she might be one of the approximately 23.5 million Americans in substance abuse recovery today. If addiction touches your life this is a number to celebrate. However, the sad truth is that much of society could care less, and are often unaware addiction affects someone they know, and even love. Anonymity is a sacred part of recovery, one that many take very seriously. Can you blame them though, with the stereotypes out there about people suffering from untreated addiction? Television, movies, and the media have too frequently depicted people who suffer from addiction as hopeless, desperate, and delinquent individuals willing to do horrible things just for their next fix. It is no mystery here why people who need treatment for their addiction are so afraid to ask for help. In this country today, a whopping 90% of individuals suffering from addiction don’t ever get the treatment they need. So although we respect the anonymity portion of 12-step programs, we can’t help but wonder what shift, if any could be taken to help lessen the stigma around addiction, and bring more light to its prevalence. A little more compassion for this disease, and those who suffer from it would be a great place to start. Many addicts and alcoholics are ashamed of this status or identity, as society often encourages this shame by the ways it stigmatizes the disease.
Here are some interesting statistics to look at:
- Ninety percent of people who are currently addicted began using drugs or alcohol before they were 18.
- About 20 million Americans suffer from drug and alcohol addiction, with millions of family members witnessing their lives crumble as a direct result of this disease.
- Alcohol and drug addiction in the U.S. is estimated to cost society approximately $428 billion a year.
Moving out of the negative perception of addiction into the celebration of recovery is a long road, but one that is well worth traveling. There are millions of people living positive and productive lives as a direct result of addiction recovery. Many however live in silence of this accomplishment, due to this country’s generations of denial and silence about this disease and everyone it was affecting.
September is National Recovery Month, and also the release of a new documentary movie The Anonymous People, hoped to bring light to the disease of addiction, and support the New Recovery Advocacy Movement. The Movie opens September 17th, and there is a link below to check out the movie, and the book it was based on Many Faces One Voice, by Bud Mikhitarian. This movie has already created a tidal wave of awareness, and is engaging thousands of advocates to join this movement, and help radically shift how everyone responds to addiction.