Patrick Kennedy on 60 Minutes

Fresh from appearing at the Unite Rally and with a new book out on his addiction, recovery and family dynamic, Patrick Kennedy, Senator Ted Kennedy’s son, gives a frank, forthright, excellent interview to 60 Minutes. Have a look.

#UNITE Rally 2015

Chat with us live using the hashtags #RecoveryNC and #UNITEtoFaceAddiction

Governor’s Institute to join UNITE Rally

Governor’s Institute on Substance Abuse to Join the UNITE To Face Addiction Rally, October 4, 2015 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Featuring Performances from Joe Walsh, Steven Tyler, Sheryl Crow, Jason Isbell, The Fray, John Rzeznik and More

Rally Will Mark “The Day the Silence Ends” for the 1 in 3 US Households Impacted by Addiction

WASHINGTON – Governor’s Institute on Substance Abuse is proud to join over 450 local, state and national organizations at the “UNITE to Face Addictionrally, a free event on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, October 4, 2015. This coalition will launch a first-of-its-kind campaign to confront America’s denial about the most urgent health crisis facing our nation today – addiction to alcohol and other drugs. The rally is being planned by Facing Addiction, a new organization dedicated to changing the conversation around, and bring new solutions to, the addiction crisis in America.

The event will feature musical performances by Joe Walsh, Steven Tyler with his Nashville-based band, Loving Mary, Sheryl Crow, Jason Isbell, The Fray, and John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls; powerful, inspirational speakers from all walks of life who have been affected by addiction; and remarks by celebrities, elected officials and other advocates who will join together to stand up to addiction.

“Together we must find solutions to the addiction crisis and put a face on the hope that survivors offer,” said health expert and television host Dr. Mehmet Oz, in a PSA released today in support of the event. In addition to Dr. Oz, other notable individuals who have already embraced and endorsed this event include Congresswoman Mary Bono, Miss USA 2006 Tara Conner, Congressman Patrick Kennedy, Author & Activist Christopher Kennedy Lawford, Author & TV Host Pat O’Brien, Entrepreneur and Music Producer Russell Simmons, former Major League Baseball Star Darryl Strawberry, Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, Former Astronaut Steve Oswald and many more.

“UNITE to Face Addiction will mark the first time our nation will collectively stand up to addiction, a health problem that impacts 1 in 3 households,” said Greg Williams, co-founder of Facing Addiction and a person in long-term recovery. “Twenty-two million Americans are currently suffering from a substance use disorder, far too many of those affected have been incarcerated, and more than 23 million others are living in recovery. When you include the families of the afflicted, addiction impacts over 85 million people – we all know somebody. It’s not ‘those’ people, it’s all of us.”‘

“When I lost my son, Austin, to addiction, I had no idea this tragedy was happening all over America – and that in our country, a life is lost to addiction every 4 minutes – the equivalent of a jumbo jet falling from the sky every day, with no survivors,” said Jim Hood, co-founder of Facing Addiction. “We know there are solutions to the addiction crisis and it’s time for America to face addiction and exercise the political and social will to act on those solutions.”

As Joe Schrank says in The Anonymous People, “There is nothing that impacts American life more than addiction.”

There are many ways to get involved with this groundbreaking event -Recovery Communities of North Carolina is organizing a delegation to attend, and there are various volunteer opportunities available. Supporters can also get involved by donating to end the silence around the addiction crisis by texting FACING to 41444.

Additional performers and special guests will be announced in the coming weeks. For more information about Facing Addiction, including how to donate and updates about the UNITE to Face Addiction rally, please visit and follow @FacingAddiction and #UNITEtoFaceAddiction on Twitter.



About Facing Addiction The UNITE to Face Addiction rally is being organized by Facing Addiction Inc., a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to finding solutions to the addiction crisis, as well as an independent coalition of national, state, and local non-profit organizations.For more information, visit

About: The Governor’s Institute is dedicated to prevention, identification and treatment of substance abuse. Headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, it reaches across the state to educate, assist and prepare healthcare providers to address the profound problem of substance abuse.

Media Contact: Jimmy Cioe   (919) 802-7972

Unite to Face Addiction

Logo-vertical-low-resThe obituary, in the News and Observer and posted online at the Apex Funeral Home, began with this sentence, “Our charismatic and beautiful son and brother died Sunday morning from a drug overdose.”

Every, every, every-thing begins to get better when we start with the truth.  The truth absolutely does set us free.

Clay Shephard died, at the age of 22, May 17, while his parents were on a post-retirement trip to Ireland. They wrote the obituary coming back on the plane. Actually, his father, Dan Shephard wrote one version, his mother Melissa wrote one and then later their daughter, Clarissa, edited them into the final version.  As Dan said, “We were expecting the TSA to meet us when we landed, as we were upset and crying the whole flight.”

Posting this obituary, this courageous act, went viral, as we say, in ways so large I need to recite some statistics. The obituary itself garnered over 6,000 responses of support. It went global starting with church leaders reading it in their services. From California to Durham to New Jersey, churches read it, posted it and even printed and handed it to their youth.

There has been a bit of an explosion of these obituaries, leading the NY Times to publish this article, “Obituaries Shed Euphemisms to Chronicle Toll of Heroin”

A quote from that article sums up a snapshot so essential to our vision:   “….a growing number of families are dropping the euphemisms and writing the gut-wrenching truth, producing obituaries that speak unflinchingly, with surprising candor and urgency, about the realities of addiction.”

This movement includes this entry in the News and Observer, of Andrew Everett Gintis’ death.

I met with Dan Shephard and got more of the story and his willingness to let me tell it. As is evident in the photo, their son was a beaming spirit with many strengths. And a son suffering from the disease of addiction. With a genetic predisposition, much had been done to try and help him learn of the joys of recovery.

In my life and my work I have seen so many families feel what the obituary expresses. The powerlessness to combat this disease and the isolation from the stigma of our cultural prejudices create destructive barriers. As we grow visibility of this scourge we remove barriers to treatment and recovery. These families deserve our support for their courage.

I’ll end (again) with William White, who writes about shifting recovery stories from “I stories” to “We stories”

“The goal of the new recovery advocacy movement is not to get a few more personal recovery stories into the public mind. It is instead to tell a much larger we story-the story of millions of Americans and other citizens of the world who once faced life-threatening AOD problems but who today live healthy, socially productive, and personally meaningful lives free of such problems.”

Come join us!

Peer Support Specialist Group

There is a brand new Peer Support Specialist support group, starting in Raleigh. The first monthly meeting is August 15th @ 1:30 pm.

Below is their press release and here is a link to the flyer.

In my work over the years with those suffering from dependence/addiction, I was at my best when I had adequate support. It’s my job to place that in my life and I have got to say this is an excellent example of just such support. A place to meet with my peers and download, kibitz and jaw about work is an essential part of wellness. My hats off to Victoria and all those involved in getting this off the ground.

Click here to download.

Recovery Coach Training

Download the flyer.

Complete this application to attend.

“We have got to study long-term recovery.”

The 5th Annual Association of Recovery Communities conference (ARCO) was such a whirlwind of true knowledge it’s hard to encapsulate.  I shall attempt to be succinct.

  • With our health systems, including behavioral health, at the precipice of revision, the main point of ARCO was, “There is a way out”.  There are solutions.
  • Recovery: transformational, a real thing, which works and is holistic in nature, is the word that defines that re-vision.
  • “Nothing about us without us” is healthy and an essential paradigm from numerous perspectives. Recovery means I must participate, I must be pro-active in my recovery and health building.
  • Quotes I heard and love: “This may not be evidence-based practice but it sure is practice-based evidence”, Tom Hill.     “The atmosphere we work in is life or death so we work to have fun”, the groovy Honesty Liller, CEO of John Shinholser’s McShin Foundation.

Presenters like Tom Hill from Altarum Institute and Rich Jones from FAVOR out of Greenville, SC gave excellent snapshots of how to build Recovery Community Organizations and Peer Support that link the community together in a healing way. Cutting edge in terms of presenting knowledge and perspective that is THE major component for increasing success in attracting people to recovery.

Every human is an asset, everyone has strengths and as we increase contributions healing begins. It’s not expensive, unlike numerous government offerings we are used to. ROSC recycles community resources. Together, we, the community become the experts. Of course, that includes everyone; non-profits, faith-based, public, private, police, hospitals etc.

Speaking of faith-based, let me tell you a little story.
It was early in my recovery, even earlier in my treatment career, I was going to two different schools, (Substance studies for licensure and Holistic bodywork) plus working, as an intern for my licensure.  (paid, thank God; there’s a topic for another time-we make Masters students do internships without pay?! What a racket!)   Still broke, I took a job as a resident manager of a half-way house, so I’d live rent-free.  Dismas House is a faith-based program that originated in Louisville, KY, and has been working to create effective re-entry programs for offenders since 1964. There’s one in Greensboro. Dismas was the Good Thief, crucified with Christ on Calvary, who Christ told, “Amen I say to you today you will be with me in Paradise”  He’s not named in the Bible but historians assigned him that name after eons of research. Anyway, I lived there in lieu of rent and kept the peace on the weekends. So here’s my point. The way the house was fed, they had a tradition going back to the beginning, of providing dinner by getting churches to bring dinner in 5 nights a week. The commitment was one night a week for twelve weeks. So 5 families, 5 churches covering dinner one night a week each, for twelve weeks. Not a lot of expense or work for the family and big savings on food for the house. Most important were the ancillary benefits.  Families at dinner with ex-offenders week after week puts everybody on their best behavior. Families came in and saw these were real people, with children of their own, concerns of their own, dreams of their own, bills, skills, strengths, some had college, some wanted college, etc. On the other side, ex-offenders eating with Granny who cooked them a home-cooked meal, they were on their better behavior. Oft-times it was retired folks who could afford to devote the time to this. The social graces, especially around food and hospitality are one of the true pleasures of life.

THIS is Recovery Oriented System of Care-ROSC!  Community working together to build bridges and links, creating inclusion on the way to healing.  Members of the house got jobs from church members, they made friends, they lived as people do and their re-entry was made easier. I can list dozens of examples like this, cheap or free to enact yet quite effective. ROSC does not cost a lot.

Another topic for another time, all this does need one thing to be effective: facilitators, navigators, liaison, linkages, case management, call it what you want.

I’d like to close with a section of an interview with William White, from the new book, Many Faces One Voice that sums it up well.  Authored by Bud Mikhitarian, who had a distinguished career in broadcast news and was an integral part of the creation of the documentary The Anonymous People, as a writer, co-producer and sound recordist.  He has written a companion book, the inside story and insights of the movie.

Btw, Bud’s a keynote speaker at the 7th Annual NC ONE Community in Recovery conference in Clemmons, NC November 11-13. Here’s a link to the information.

“And an interesting thing happened.  If you had met me in the early 1970s and bumped into me in a grocery store, I might very well have told you my recovery story.  This was the period of the super ex-addict, dope fiend, folk hero kind of caricature we had, particularly those of us affiliated with therapeutic communities of that time.  And then, as we began to get pushed toward professionalization, I became almost embarrassed by my recovery story and felt it was baggage I needed to shed if I was going to do anything of importance in this field.  Because you would get discounted as a person in recovery, which meant people could put you in a little box and didn’t have to listen to you (emphasis mine).  I spent the middle years of my career building professional credentials and doing professional writing and doing professional research, and I made less and less reference to my recovery status until I got into the late 1990s.

And then, I’ll have to admit there was an epiphany experience I had.  I was going to speak at a professional conference in Dallas, Texas.  By this time I had started volunteering evenings, during my travels, to speak at these little grassroots recovery advocacy organizations that were popping up.  And I visited Searcy W., one of the old-timers in the recovery community in Dallas, Texas, to interview him about the early history of treatment in the Southwest.  And I’ll never forget.  We took a break in the interview and Searcy said, ‘Now, Bill, what’s this research stuff you do?’  And I explained to him that I worked in a research institute and studied treatment by doing treatment outcome studies.  And I was very excited because we had just got a five-year project funded and that we were going to follow people for five years.  Now I’m talking to someone with fifty-four years of sobriety at his point in time.  And Searcy just looked at me and smiled and said, ‘Five years.  Very impressive.’  And then it suddenly dawned on me – the context and to whom I was speaking.  And so I kind of regrouped myself as best I could, and we finished the interview.  But it was an epiphany.

When I was flying home on the plane that night, here’s what I realized.  Because here’s the question Searcy asked me after that.  He said, ‘What does your research tell you about people like me?’  What do you think I had to say from him? ‘We don’t even know you exist!’  We don’t know anything about people in long-term recovery.  We can fill libraries with what we know about the pathology of addiction, and we’re learning a lot about treatment.  But we know almost nothing about recovery, particularly the lived experience of recovery.

On the plan home from Dallas that night I had this powerful experience.  It was this awakening I had spent almost my whole life learning about addiction and I’d learned a lot about treatment.  I’d mastered a fair amount of knowledge.  But, separate from my own experience, from the standpoint of science, I knew very little about the long-term processes of recovery.  I asked myself, with millions of people in long-term recovery out there, why don’t we begin to study the recovery experience?  So I made this promise to myself that for whatever time I had left in my career, I was going to devote it to the study of the solution.  And I said, how can I ask other people to disclose their recovery experience when for years I’ve been hiding my own recovery status?  To be perfectly honest, I was professional ashamed of it and I’d internalized some of the very stigma I criticized.  From that trip on I came back to the research institute at which I worked saying, ‘We have got to study long-term recovery.’  I began to be more vocal about my own recovery.  So again, it felt like I’d almost come full circle to going from where I was in the early 1970s to where I ended up in the early years of this new century.”   p. 114 – 115

“…the time has come when that tired old lie, ‘Once an addict, always an addict,’ will no longer be tolerated by either society or the addict himself.  We do recover.”  NA Basic Text, p. 89

Next acronym for the list: W+L=S (Work plus Love = Service)