Yesterday my husband and I attended the Unite to Face Addiction rally on the Washington DC Mall. We had heard about the celebrities and musicians who would be on hand to raise awareness about the current epidemic that is addiction, but had no real idea of what to expect. Although we dodged a bullet called Hurricane Joaquin, but it remained cold and blustery on Sunday. There was a brief moment when event planners weren’t sure whether or not the event could proceed as planned, given the impending weather. But while on stage, a couple of the special guests referred to their own experiences of active addiction, stating “my LIFE in addiction was a hurricane! I’ve lived through much worse than this!!”
We began by meeting up with about 40 Caron folks a few blocks away from the event. We put on Caron tee shirts so that people could see that we were representing Caron as we marched to the rally together. We found a great spot on the lawn where we could see all of the festivities. There was a very large stage for the performers and speakers, flanked by two jumbotron screens so that EVERYONE could see! And there were people. Lots and lots of people! I sensed a feeling of camaraderie and empathy with everyone.
The day was filled with “celebrity”… there were TV stars, politicians, comedians, musicians, and more… Even a Naloxone injection tutorial for everyone! But the overall messages were the same. Let’s eliminate the stigma that surrounds addiction. Let’s raise awareness about this disease that is affecting one in three households, and has become a national health care crisis. Let’s save lives by making available the treatment that so many require.
Some highlights for me were the signs. So many folks were holding signs. FAMILIES RECOVER TOGETHER. ADDICTION IS NOT A CRIME. I AM A RECOVERY CARRIER. WE CAN PREVENT OVERDOSE DEATHS. RECOVERY IS CONTAGIOUS. WE RECOVER AND WE VOTE. And our very own Caron parents held signs, including one that said, FUND RECOVERY, PAY CLAIMS, SAVE LIVES. All very powerful messages.
The most heartbreaking signs were held by mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, and the list goes on… people who had lost their dearest loved ones to this disease. So many faces and names were represented on both signs and shirts. Way, way too many.
While the day was filled with celebrity and entertainment, I believe the day was more about a message to our country and its leaders. We heard from the United States Surgeon General, who said that for the first time EVER, there will be a report from the Office of the Surgeon General on our nations’ addiction epidemic. At one point the entire crowd chanted over and over “Enough is enough!” The goal was to end silence and I believe the goal was achieved.