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Film screening opens conversation about substance abuse recovery

On the evening of Wed., Feb. 26, in the Tate-Turner-Kuralt building auditorium, the Behavioral Healthcare Resource Program (BHRP) at the School of Social Work hosted a free screening of “The Anonymous People.” It is a feature documentary film about the more than 23 million Americans living in long-term recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs.

Deeply entrenched social stigmas have kept recovery voices silent and faces hidden for decades. The vacuum has been filled with sensational mass media depictions of people with addiction that perpetuate a lurid fascination with the dysfunctional side of what is a preventable and treatable health condition.

The moving story of The Anonymous People is told through the faces and voices of citizens, leaders, volunteers, corporate executives, public figures, and celebrities who are laying it all on the line to save the lives of others just like them. This passionate new public recovery movement aims to transform public opinion, engage communities and elected officials, and finally shift problematic policy toward lasting solutions.

A panel discussion with behavioral health and public policy experts followed the film, offering attendees the opportunity to ask questions of area leaders and experts. In addition, the discussion highlighted the Carolina Recovery Community, which is growing at UNC.

Event co-sponsors included the UNC School of Social Work; Recovery Communities of North Carolina; Cardinal Innovations Healthcare Solutions; Governor’s Institute on Substance Abuse; and the North Carolina Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services.

“The Anonymous People is a film designed to open minds and start a conversation about how to help people speak about their recovery,” said Tara Bohley, BHRP’s program coordinator. “Over 90 people attended the screening. We had students from across campus, members of the public, and people in recovery attend, and some shared their stories.”