The record turnout at this year’s Rally For Recovery is the unequivocal evidence that there is indeed hope after drug or alcohol addiction.
So said a dozen of the more than 1,000 people who attended the rally at the Utah Capitol this year. The spirit was both somber and joyful, with members quietly remembering loved ones they’ve lost to substance use disorders and mental illness, yet exuberant in their faith that they themselves are choosing a path of hope in the future.
The event—the 10th in ten years—not only exceeded turnout expectations, it marked a meridian moment for recovery support in Utah, several members of the crowd said after the event.
Randall, who by the tradition of Narcotics Anonymous didn’t give his last name, said the date Feb. 20, 2018, will stand as the day that the community of recovery “went from a march to a movement.”
Several other people in recovery shared the same sentiment, saying recovery has gone from a ripple to a wave across the state.
Rodney, a person in recovery from an alcohol use disorder in his late 60s, said he was “positively joyful” to be part of the new age of recovery from addiction.
“We were often called by outsiders—and often tell ourselves—that we are a community of undesirables. We tend to be from the margins of life that other people seem to be able to do without alcohol and other drugs.”
He and others said the phrase will be dropped from that day forward.
“ ‘Undesirables’ is obviously no longer true,” he said. “You can be sure you’ll never hear me say it again—ever.”
Amy, a master’s student at the University of Utah, said “people who have never known addiction seem addicted to judging us, and harshly. They should try to understand first. Get to know us. Understanding doesn’t mean condoning use, but anyone can join in a movement of hope.”
People in recovery can stay in recovery, Rodney added, “but they can’t do it alone. Today shows that anyone who feels helpless and alone—and virtually every addict does—shows that Utah has many paths to help and to heal.”
Alyssa, a woman in her mid-40s who was successful in business but “a wreck in life,” said she has “used every drug known to mankind, and then some.” She was was quick to point out that both recovering addicts and those still in active use “don’t need to feel any more shame. Believe me. In fact, I think most of the overdose deaths are from the user being ashamed that they have become addicted.
“If there is actual hope out there, and believe me there is,” she added, “the alcoholic, the addict, the user would know they aren’t a lost cause. People need to stop judging people by the substance they use, and recognize those who are addicted are people just like themselves.”