THE ANONYMOUS PEOPLE is a feature documentary film about the 23.5 million Americans living in long-term recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs. Deeply entrenched social stigma and discrimination have kept recovery voices silent and faces hidden for decades. The vacuum created by this silence has been filled by sensational mass media depictions of people in active addiction that continue to perpetuate a lurid public fascination with the dysfunctional side of what is a preventable and treatable health condition. Just like women with breast cancer, or people with HIV/AIDS, courageous addiction recovery advocates are starting to come out of the shadows to tell their true stories. The moving story of The Anonymous People is told through the faces and voices of the leaders, volunteers, corporate executives, and celebrities who are laying it all on the line to save the lives of others just like them. This passionate new public recovery movement is fueling a changing conversation that aims to transform public opinion, and finally shift problematic policy toward lasting recovery solutions.
Disclaimer: No member of a 12-step fellowship is identified as such in the film, and no footage has been taken inside meetings held by 12-step fellowships. The project team has deep respect and admiration for the long-standing, beautiful tradition of anonymity at the level of film. The project uses the lessons learned from The New Recovery Advocacy Movement to uphold this sacred trust, while presenting various perspectives of what this tradition means for people in recovery. It is an undeniable fact that recovery is bigger than any one particular pathway, and the issues we must overcome together are bigger than any single component of recovery. Click here to learn more about Advocacy With Anonymity.
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The trend in mainstream reality television including shows such as Intervention and Celebrity Rehab, and in mass media news coverage of celebrity rehab scandals intently focuses on the drama of behavior that marginalize people suffering from a serious health condition. Graphic and sensational depictions of active drug and alcohol use may garner ratings; they also inform public opinion and policy. This unrelenting fascination with people’s lives in active addiction ignores the other side – that people can and do recover. For people still struggling with addiction and their families, the portrayals of America’s addiction epidemic may appear hopeless.
But there is hope!
The good news for the 20-25 million Americans with alcohol and other drug problems is the emergence of a vibrant grassroots recovery advocacy and support movement. Courageous people in long-term recovery and their allies are uniting for the first time in decades to offer hope and address America’s most enduring public health problem. However, this public movement is still in its infancy stage of growth; the general public – and even millions in recovery – are largely unaware of the existence of this new, productive way of thinking, living, and serving. Recovery, like addiction, has existed too long in the shadows.
The Anonymous People shines a light on the personal and societal value of recovery through the moving stories of people who are public about what their lives are like now that they’re no longer using alcohol or other drugs.
Understandably, some people in recovery are reluctant to go public. But when someone does put a face and a voice on recovery with his or her personal story, the general public and policymakers can finally access the powerful message of hope that has resonated for years in underground communities of recovery. No longer defined by their silence, the individuals in the film are stepping up and telling their stories.