Film Seeks to "Sensationalize" Recovery
A passionate recovery advocate tells The Fix about his goal to fight stigma with a powerful documentary.
Greg Williams, a Fix reader who is in long-term recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, is seeking to create something unique. He's making a feature-length documentary about the estimated 23.5 million recovering Americans that he hopes will "sensationalize" their story: The Anonymous People. At the age of 28, Williams knows as well as anyone how sensational recovery really is. His history with drugs and alcohol began at the age of 12, he tells The Fix—"parents' liquor cabinet kind of stuff"—and he was soon smoking marijuana and getting hooked on prescription drugs. He says his turning point came on July 14, 2001, when he got in a near-fatal car accident while high on OxyContin. That made him decide to turn his life around and attend Caron for treatment. At 11 years sober, Williams wants to help in "making changes for the people that face discrimination as a result of substance abuse disorders." He's starting with this film. Protective of the recovery fellowship he belongs to, he used to tell his story as "Greg W."—until he came to believe that by doing so, he was contributing to the shame associated with addiction and recovery. Such stigma—for which Williams credits the drug war and "the 'crack baby' image"—is what he hopes to eliminate.
"The people who have the most power in society to change the stigma are the people who are stable in their recovery," he tells us. "Bottom line: those are the only people who have the power to demand change in the media, to demand policy change, to demand increased treatment. If we do not have a mobilized constituency that demands change, this issue will never look like HIV or breast cancer...That is what this film is about, the need for a community to conquer this issue." Williams is fiercely proud of his recovery and says, "I wouldn't change my past for the world. The life that I get to live today as a result of my past is absolutely incredible. I'm living the dream and chasing other dreams." The Anonymous People is set for release in spring 2013. You can find out more about the project—including how to support it—here.