Uniting the Generations

Two Decades of Carrying the Message

For 19 years now, as an advocate for the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, I’ve carried the message publicly about the promise and possibility of recovery. During a recent night at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, those nearly two decades came into unique focus as I was struck by appreciation for the pioneers that came before me and gratitude for the next generation of recovery advocates that has arrived to carry the torch.

I was there to speak on behalf of a small treatment center raising money to bolster its mission to help more people overcome addiction to alcohol and other drugs. Aquila was started about three years ago by Johnny Allem. He’s been a tireless advocate to smash the stigma of addiction and promote recovery, and he’s been doing it since the 1980s, even before I had started on the road of recovery myself.

Part of the evening’s hoopla was to honor Greg Williams. He’s the young documentary producer whose groundbreaking film, “The Anonymous People,” has finally galvanized recovery advocates from all across the nation into concentrated action. If all goes according to plan, thousands of us will rally for recovery at the National Mall in D.C. on Oct. 4, 2015. It’ll be the first time we’ve come together en masse in the nation’s capital.

There I was last night, the keynote at the podium, which means I was the focus of attention, and all eyes and ears were on me for 25 minutes. But what I planned to say wasn’t what came out of my mouth. Because standing before the audience it hit me that after all these years at the vanguard of advocacy, we now have a growing army of advocates that spans three generations. “I’m proud to say I’m in the middle of history now, and so are many of you in the room,” I told the audience. We are in between Johnny Allem, a brave trailblazer who got people like us to stand up and share our stories, and Greg Williams, the leader of the next generation of advocates who show no reluctance to tell their stories about addiction and recovery in public places like Congress, college campuses and on Facebook.

What a moment for me, professionally and personally. Come October, I will be on the Mall with my friends and fellow travelers, families like mine and professionals who make a difference in the lives of people like me. I hope you’ll plan to be there too. We’ll all be part of history then.


(Top-of-page photo, L to R) Recovery advocates William Moyers, Ivana Grahovac and Greg Williams stop for a “selfie” during a recovery jubilee May 14 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

Did you catch William, Ivana, Greg and others at the Hazelden Betty Ford Institute for Recovery Advocacy's Capitol Hill symposium on preventing opioid deaths among young people? Video and other details here.

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