If you are in recovery and haven’t heard of Faces & Voices of Recovery (F&V), you need to. In the Spring 2015 issue of In Recovery Magazine, we ran a story about the recent F&V reorganization, partnership and merger with Young People in Recovery, the national movement with the mission of “[changing] the world so all young people in or seeking recovery are given the opportunity to become empowered.”
For far too long, those most affected by alcohol or drug problems have been absent from the public policy debate. F&V’s groundbreaking training, Our Stories Have Power Recovery Community Messaging, has been used by tens of thousands of advocates to sharpen their skills as recovery communicators and to deliver strategic messages through the media, to both policymakers and the general public.
Hopefully, you have been fortunate enough to have seen the movie, The Anonymous People, released in 2013. This documentary film struck a deep chord with the recovery community. It is a groundbreaking movie about the 23.5 million Americans living in long-term recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs. Together with filmmaker Greg Williams, F&V launched a new campaign, ManyFaces1Voice.org, to advance the recovery movement.
For decades, deeply entrenched social stigma and discrimination have kept recovery voices silent and recovery faces hidden. The vacuum created by this silence has been filled by sensationalized mass-media depictions of people in active addiction, which perpetuate a lurid fascination with the dysfunctional side of what is a preventable and treatable health condition. Just as women with breast cancer or people with HIV/AIDS, courageous addiction recovery advocates are starting to come out of the shadows to tell their inspiring stories. The moving message of The Anonymous People was told through the faces and voices of the leaders, corporate executives, celebrities and volunteers, who laid it all on the line to save the lives of others who are just like them.
No member of a Twelve Step fellowship was identified as such in the film, and no footage was taken inside Twelve Step meetings. The Anonymous People team showed deep respect and admiration for the long-standing, beautiful Twelve Step Tradition Eleven of “. . . anonymity at the level of . . . film.” The project used 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 that must be overcome together are bigger than any single component of recovery.
To this end, a new book has just come out called Many Faces, One Voice: Secrets from The Anonymous People, written by Bud Mikhitarian, a key member of Williams’ documentary team. Published by Central Recovery Press, Many Faces, One Voice is a behind-the-scenes account of the making of William’s award-winning film and describes the 10,000 mile, two-year journey across America taken by the film crew in their search for the faces and voices of the New Recovery Advocacy Movement. The book has received high praise since its publication in May. Patrick Kennedy, former Congressman and founder of The Kennedy Forum, called it, “A moving, challenging and revealing portrait of the world of recovery today – and tomorrow.”
Greg Williams, Bud Mikhitarian and Craig Mikhitarian, Director of Photography, captured over 110 hours of video, including exclusive interviews with more than 60 celebrities, politicians, recovery leaders and many other extraordinary individuals. The book gathers up the outtakes of the edited film – gems from the dark of the cutting room floor – and brings them to light, creating a compendium of stories and experiences that give added context and meaning to the film, The Anonymous People.
Many Faces, One Voice is a vital record and testimony of the lives of brave people in recovery who have exposed their secrets to the light and are fighting to erase stigma and discrimination by publicly advocating for the millions of Americans suffering with addiction. Their inspiring and intimate stories are brutally honest, often breathtaking, and essential to understanding the success, the hope and the power of recovery.
The book reveals some surprising discoveries the filmmakers made about addiction, recovery and themselves. Bud Mikhitarian describes what everyone, including so-called “normal” people, can learn from those who have achieved successful long-term recovery. He says, “The redemption, the values and accomplishments of these once-suffering people are to be admired; but beyond that, their recovery can inspire and teach all of us life-changing perspectives that have profound implications for broad social good.”
Many Faces, One Voice is a collection of insights illuminated by vibrant faces and voices of recovery, which takes us along a journey of individual growth and, hopefully, to world change. Please join In Recovery Magazine and all the amazing folks who are excited about recovery in sharing, empowering and educating those who don’t understand this disease.
Together, we will overcome the stigma!
For more information on The Anonymous People movie and the book, Many Faces, One Voice, please visit manyfaces1voice.org/about-the-film.php. Many Faces, One Voice: Secrets from The Anonymous People, published by Central Recovery Press, is available in paperback online and wherever books are sold.