Recovery Advocates Respond To Trump's Opioid PSAs With New Video

By Paul Gaita 07/25/18

Two recovery advocates made a personal video about their addiction struggles in hopes of getting a meeting with the president to discuss opioid policies. 

Chanda Lynn
Recovery advocate Chanda Lynn

The Trump Administration's quartet of "Know the Truth" public service announcements about the dangers of opioid use and abuse have garnered mixed reviews from the recovery community for their shocking tone.

They have also spurred a response from an Ohio-based recovery advocate, who has created his own video that details a more personal take on dependency and recovery.

Richie Webber, who recovered from heroin dependency to found Fight for Recovery, and his friend Chanda Lynn, of Jamestown, New York, talk openly about their struggles with dependency in the video in hopes of not only encouraging viewers to do the same, but also garnering a meeting with President Trump to discuss more compassionate opioid policies. The video has been submitted to a White House site for review.

Webber has been sober for four years from a dependency on heroin that he developed in high school after suffering a sports injury. He currently operates Fight for Recovery, which offers support for those with dependency issues and their families and friends. He said that he was encouraged by Trump's initial statements about dependency, which hinged on his brother, Fred, who struggled with alcoholism before his death in 1981. 

But when he saw the "Know the Truth" videos, Webber said, "Wow, this isn't going to work." The strident tone reminded him of previous efforts, which he viewed as failed attempts. "We did the DARE commercials in the '80s, and that clearly didn't work," he said.

So with Lynn, whose previous videos about recovery have generated more than 8 million views, and Zach Yoney of Sandusky, Ohio, he created a message that talked directly to viewers—and Trump—about their paths to recovery.

In the video, Webber discusses his "all-American" teen years, when he was a track star at Clyde High School, as well as the multiple overdoses, jail time and friends he lost to dependency. The piece concludes with a direct address to Trump: "Let us help you help America."

Since its release on Facebook in early July 2018, the video has been viewed more than 163,000 times. Webber and Lynn have plans to release additional videos, and hope to start filming a new effort in September 2018.

He also remains active with Ohio-area events to raise awareness about dependency and recovery. "We're just trying to cover as many bases as possible," said Webber.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.