A rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to draw attention to the problem of addiction drew thousands of people Sunday October 4th, The Washington Post reports.
The event, called UNITE to Face Addiction, included government officials and celebrities. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence was a sponsoring partner and NCADD President/CEO, Andrew N. Pucher, and Director of Affiliate Relations, Leah Brock, participated in the Rally. Several Affiliates also attended.
Organizers say they hope to eliminate the stigma surrounding addiction, which affects one in three households and 85 million people nationwide.
Speakers included U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy; Michael Botticelli, Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy; and talk-show host and surgeon Mehmet Oz. Performers included Sheryl Crow, The Fray, Steven Tyler and Aloe Blacc.
"The truth of the matter is, 'just say no' didn't work and the war on drugs failed," Donald McFarland, Communications Director for the group that organized the rally, Facing Addiction, told the newspaper.
One rally participant, Nico Doorn, 25, overcame a heroin addiction to become a recovery counselor. He said people who suffer from addiction often are misunderstood, and he felt uncomfortable talking about his addiction because of the stigma.
"Something people need to understand is you have morals, you know that it's wrong — so to speak — and you're helpless," said Doorn, who is now studying for a master's degree in human development counseling at Vanderbilt University. "The approach of putting people in jail and showing celebrities who have thrown away their lives isn't working."
Amber Latoroco, a detox counselor working in the Philadelphia area, said her patients have no self-esteem. "They don't know how to feel or what to feel, all the bridges are broken and you're in the gutter. And you're looking for a way out."