The conversation about drug addiction needs to undergo a paradigm shift in focus, from obsessing about the problem to understanding the solution.
That is the sentiment of the documentary The Anonymous People, which looks at the millions of people living in long-term recovery from addictions.
The film is being screened in Nanaimo tonight, brought to town by Neal Berger and Marshall Smith from Cedars at Cobble Hill treatment facility, and criminologist and addictions specialist Geri Bemister.
"One of the problems we've had is that in the U.S. alone there's 25 million people in sustained, long-term recovery, and no one knows about it," said Berger, who has worked in the field of addiction treatment for 40 years. "Any time people get together and try to address the drug problem, they're talking about the Downtown Eastside, they're talking about problems associated with all sorts of other social issues, housing problems, but what's invisible is all the people that suffer from addiction disorders and get well."
Smith likens this to hosting a cancer conference but not inviting anyone who has successfully recovered from cancer, and added that the criminal aspect of addiction is often the focus, and it needs to be dealt with separately.
"There's no better war on drugs than recovery," said Smith, a recovering addict who was a former ministerial assistant for Gordon Campbell.
"Far too often our community leaders are spending way too much time asking people who are in their active disease, what they need to be comfortable maintaining themself in that situation, instead of asking people who have gotten well how they did that and building a system around that."
This is the focus of the film, said Smith: "We got sick, then we got well. Ask us how."
The film will be shown at Vancouver Island University tonight at 6 p.m. in building 310. Tickets are $10 at the door and it will be followed by a discussion.
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