Friday, May 10, 2013

That shit blew my mind

From left to right. William C. Moyers, Jonothan Lofgren, Dan Griffen, Bethany Otuteye, and director  Greg Williams.
Hey, I saw the movie The Anonymous People last night.   The Minnesota Recovery Connection hosted this event at the Walker Art Center.  The whole thing inspired me.  It made me more excited to be going into the field that I am going into. And it made me want to help more.  And I will.

There is so much to say about this movie, that I cannot do it justice. Greg Williams did a beautiful job, and the messages are clear. We need to stop treating people with a chronic health issue, as criminals. It isn't humane, it costs our country billions of dollars, and it doesn't make sense. The public belief about what addiction is needs to change, and the way to change this is to be willing to, if WE can, tell our stories without shame, so that we can be proof that treatment works. Recovery works.  There are 23 million of us.  All roads to recovery are different, just like all roads to recovery for any disease are different.  No two people are the same.

Left to right.  Yours truly, Deb and Dee.  
At this event, I was able to meet the humble and approachable Greg Williams, the director of the film. He recognized my name from here, Facebook and my excitement about his project. That was super nice. It gave me the awesome chance to prove that I am super awkward in person. And maybe a little too overly excited and nerdy about some stuff.  I wouldn't doubt if he was a little creeped out.  I'm kidding.  But we are probably best friends now.  You know how I get.

Here is my hope for an important film like this. I believe it could change people's minds about addiction diseases.  In the 300 seat theater last night, for a special screening, most folks there were in recovery, work in recovery fields, or touched by recovery. Of course WE want to see this film. But Greg made a movie that the REST of you that need to see. Because it is the public perception of this DISEASE that needs to change, for treatment to become available. For criminalizing to stop.

Some of you might not believe that this is a disease. You may find it hard to understand that when I use (as Greg Williams said something along this line in the movie) one drug or drink, my old brain takes over in a way that I can't stop using (well, he didn't say exactly that). And unless I get some help, my family suffers, I suffer, I stop contributing to society, I start to hurt people. I steal, I lie, I do fucked-up shit.  If you can't believe that, this film will make you consider that what we are saying is true.  And if you don't want to believe that, THEN GO SEE THIS MOVIE.

Recovery services are available to some of us, and I was able to go to one of the BEST treatment centers around, when I wanted to, because I had good insurance AND people were willing to give me money for the remaining co-pay.  So instead of getting caught and put in jail, I was put on the road to recovery.  Not everyone, especially "drug addicts," have people like I did, in their lives.   I got the help I needed.  But not everyone is so lucky.  And that has to do with the stigma and shame of the disease.  So we need to start talking about how recovery has worked in our lives, and change the minds of people who look down on us.

So when this movie is released, and it comes to your town, do yourself (and America) a favor and go see it.  Even and especially if you have not been touched by this disease (which really, who hasn't?)  It is respectful, truthful, and exciting.  It is a movie for all of us, recovering or not. I learned a whole bunch of stuff I didn't know, and it made me feel more certain that I am on the right path, doing the right thing by sharing my story. And I still have a SHIT TON still to learn about how I do that.

And until then, I have decided I need to get more involved.  So I filled out the volunteer form online for the Minnesota Recovery Connection.  And hopefully, they can use me.  There are other organizations that are out there who also help reduce stigma, educate, work on public policy, etc.,  so help can become easier to access.  I have a list of them to the right. If you think I should add one, let me know.  But check them out.  And help where you can, if you can.

I probably will have more to say about this.


  1. I'm not able to approach the situation from experience but I definitely believe addiction is a disease. Our society considers people who are sick as criminals because of the decisions they have made. We need to stop paying all this money to keep people in jail without addressing their problems. It's like pulling a weed from the top. Without a system to help them, all they are going to do is end up back in jail or end up dead. Also, I think it's just as important that the families of addicts get help too. I don't know why as a society we can't see that. Looking forward to seeing the movie.

  2. I just shared a little about recovery advocacy at a 12 step, 12th tradition meeting. Not a warm reception but it's not only hard to explain in 2 mins but hard to grasp without being exposed to this film. People worry about the ego involved and it's a thin line but the work is out there and it's OK to be uncomfortable if it starts the conversation. Hope more people see this, meanwhile thank you for your part in getting the message out.

    1. I completely agree. I've felt the "snub" (probably in my own head) regarding this and my own public sharing from some of the old-timers. And I think for me, since I have under 3 years of sobriety, they think I don't get it. That could totally be in my head. But there is an importance of sharing recovery, without blowing the traditions. I hope they all see this movie, because I cannot explain it as well as it does either.

  3. I will put this on my list of movies to see. I am part of the uneducated public on this topic, and it sounds like I could learn a lot. Thanks!

  4. Dear Betsy, My name is Kim, and I have been off meth and alcohol for just over 5 years, and I applaud you! My story is a bit more tragic, but turns out OK! I am going to graduate in Dec. with a degree in Off. Admin (YAY!) I am 47 an ex prostitute, alcoholic and meth addict. I never got help with my addiction, but was able to quit by moving to another state and abandoning all my so-called "friends". I still get the urge to use, and feel I am going nowhere, which I know is not true, or else I wouldn't be graduating. I think the programs out there, especially where I live, have an unusually large focus on "God", which I do not like because I am a non-believer. Do you have any tips or places I can go that do not put "God" in the program? Sincerely, Kim

    1. I think this is a great question, Anonymous! I was just thinking how much I appreciated Betsy sharing her story and not attributing her success to divine intervention. I think that is such a cop out. When you kick addiction's ass, YOU should get credit for the hard work because it indeed takes a lot of hard work. Kudos to all of you.

    2. Hi Kim. Sorry it took me so long to respond, I was out of town and my phone doesn't like Blogger. I am a non-believer too. And the whole "god" thing has really threw me off too. If you are talking about the 12-steps. But I couldn't stop alone. And I couldn't leave. So I had to have help. In the steps, it mentions god a lot. I just sort of skipped over that and used the universe. The balance of the universe. That was the power greater than me. All I know is that i'm not god.

      I found others in those meetings who don't believe in god. And no one should tell you that you have to. It has helped me to have friends in recovery, and I have found those friends in those meetings. There are other types of recovery meetings, but I don't know a whole lot about those.

      It sounds like you have gone so far. I feel so lucky to hear this from you and also am so proud. That shit isn't easy to stop. But you did it. YOU did it. Congratulations.

  5. And Tracy, thank you. I agree with you. We do this anyway we can. Everyone does it different. This is what I do. It works. Yeah!