Documentary explores recovery, anonymity

Across the country, 23 million people are living in long-term recovery from drugs and alcohol – but most of them stay silent, afraid of how their past addiction will be perceived.

In an effort to combat stigmas such as these, the Recovery Community Initiative, a newly-formed local group working to raise public awareness about recovery, and the West Branch Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission will hold a special screening of “The Anonymous People,” a feature film documentary about living in long-term recovery, on April 7 at the Community Arts Center.

“We’re trying to lose the stigma behind addiction,” said Alexa Hibbler, founder of the Initiative, which will have its official launch at the screening.

“There are more people than you think living in long-term recovery,” she added.

The documentary, directed by Greg Williams, follows the stories of prominent people living publicly in long-term recovery – like award-winning actress Kristen Johnson, Miss USA 2006 Tara Conner and former NBA player Chris Herren -but also explores the question of why most people recovering from drug or alcohol abuse choose to remain anonymous.

The movement behind bringing addiction and recovery into the spotlight is a nationwide one, Hibbler said, but it’s not well-known in the Williamsport area.

Screening the movie is a great way to “bring forth the movement that already exists,” she said.

Shea Madden, executive director of the West Branch Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission, heard about the movie from people involved with the Initiative and knew that it would resonate with the local recovery community – and beyond.

“Addiction does not discriminate,” she said. “It affects at least one in four families.”

Admission for the screening is by free will a donation, the proceeds of which will be used by the initiative to establish 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.