For many issues, including civil rights, environmentalism, and AIDS awareness, the National Mall in Washington D.C. has an esteemed history as a central gathering spot for historic rallies where people in grassroots movements gather in large numbers to demand change. Yet the social crisis of addiction has never had a massive rally of its own, until now.
The National Mall October 4, 2015 is the planned date for an unprecedented rally called Unite To Face Addiction. It is being hosted and put together by the organization Facing Addiction, and hopes to bring in as many people and organizations concerned about issues of recovery as possible. The aim of the rally is to address the continuing addiction crisis in U.S. society.
Through a large gathering of people committed to transforming the way addiction is understood and treated, Facing Addiction’s leader Greg Williams hopes to increase awareness, destigmatize addiction. The people attending the rally will also push for an increase of the kind of policies and treatment options supported by research and evidence to help people support lasting recovery.
According to Facing Addiction, around 22 million people are living in long-term recovery from alcohol or drug addiction. These are people who have received the care they need and have made the journey to sobriety. Yet, 90 percent of people who need addiction treatment do not receive it. This means around 22 million people are struggling with addiction, while alcohol and drug abuse kills 350 people every day.
No longer hidden:
Greg takes inspiration from the LGBT rights movement’s use of “coming out of the closet” to humanize the struggles men and women face, using relationships to change the way people view a crisis. People struggling with addiction face tremendous stigma, or stereotypes and judgmental attitudes that fail to see the addict as a full person, with a disease in need of treatment. This stigma both keep many addicts from getting the help they need, and sometimes causes those in treatment to face discrimination.
By revealing themselves as people in recovery, people’s understanding of the issue will change. In an interview for Thefix.com, Greg Williams expressed hope that making the stories and needs of people in recovery more public will “help the country realize that we can no longer passively ignore this massive issue tearing millions of families and communities apart.”
Who is going:
As of August 3, 2015, almost 400 organizations have joined in mobilizing people personally affected by and concerned about addiction, centers from all over the country, representing a wide variety of perspectives, including groups focused on prevention, treatment, long-term recovery, criminal justice, and drug policy. The event itself will feature entertainers, athletes, health care providers, faith leaders, activists, and policymakers all speaking about the impact of addiction, and how we as individuals and a society can move forward.
By involving as many different perspectives as possible, UNITE hopes to realize a vision of a broad, multifaceted coalition. While not everyone involved and concerned about addiction is in total agreement about the best policies or treatments to prevent addiction and support recovery, drawing greater attention to the issue can help us put more thought into the best way forward. Each perspective draws attention to an important aspect to this problem, that must demand a multifaceted response.
If you would like to get involved, to sign up to attend or volunteer, or donate, you can visit Facing Addiciton’s website. Right now those involved simply want to get as people involved as they can, and so are particularly looking for ambassadors to spread the word wherever they can.