The West Branch Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission and the Recovery Community Initiative, a newly-formed support group in the Williamsport area, held a special screening of the documentary film "The Anonymous People" Monday evening, to raise awareness not only about drug and alcohol abuse, but about the lifelong process of recovery.
More than 23 million Americans live in long-term recovery, but many choose to remain anonymous because of the negative social stigma of addiction. The film explores the reasons behind that stigma, as well as the history of addiction treatment in the United States.
The event, however, had a noticeably positive feel.
"If ever there was proof of wide-spread support for recovery, it's this," said initiative co-founder who only referred to himself as Bruce, as he welcomed the crowd.
The initiative had its official launch at the screening, which was intended to be "a jumping off point," Alexa Hibbler, another co-founder, said.
"We want to get our name out there and let people know that we're here, and that we'll be holding future events," she said.
The initiative aims to be a resource for those in recovery by offering a supportive network made up of both individuals - many of whom are in recovery themselves - and community resources, such as the West Branch Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission.
The idea of providing a strong community for those in recovery is essential in helping someone maintain their sobriety, demonstrated over and over again during the film in the thousands of local, grass roots groups - such as the initiative - springing up all over the country.
Some of the programs meet in community centers or church basements. Some take place in prisons, others in high schools and even on college campuses, but their goal is the same.
"(We) want to be an entity that helps people utilize other sources," Hibbler said. "We want people in recovery to know that they're not alone and that they have options, they have support."
Roughly 350 people gathered to watch the film, many of whom were there in support of family members in recovery.
"My daughter has been in recovery for a year and a half," said one woman, who asked not to be identified. "She heard about it and told me and I came to support her."
One young woman said that her Narcotics Anonymous sponsor recommended she see the film. Another young man had a similar experience with his sponsor.
With its launch, the initiative has plans in the works for the coming year, not the least of which is attaining nonprofit status. That, Hibbler said, is the "No. 1 goal right now."
Like most things, however, it costs money. An application for nonprofit status can range from $400 to $850, depending on the group's expected yearly gross receipts.
"Getting that nonprofit organization status is really important," Hibbler said.
She said donations collected Monday will go toward the cost of the application and the next event the group will hold.
She added that the group also has events planned for the coming months, when warmer weather settles in, although she didn't give any specifics just yet.
For more information visit www.facebook.com/RecoveryCommunityInitiative.