The frightened look of a young person entering addiction treatment for the first time leaves an indelible impression on Matthew Wolf, vice president of Seabrook House. That scene, repeated time and again, has served as the fuel for a new project that Wolf considers simple but potentially impactful in many ways: giving individuals in recovery and their families a medium for sharing stories of successful treatment.
“I did this with young people in mind—they’re terrified when they come to our front door,” says Wolf. “We want to send young people the message that this is not a big deal—you’re not locked in a padded cell.”
Wolf used the occasion of this month’s National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) conference in Arizona to unveil the Treatment Is Hope campaign. New Jersey-based Seabrook House is paying for the effort, which involves maintaining a website (http://treatmentishope.org) where individuals are invited to post videos in which they tell their recovery story.
Wolf says text without video can be posted as well, but participants are being encouraged to videotape their submissions. “We want to establish that eye contact, and capture the feelings,” he says.
Although the “About” section of the campaign’s website states that participants will be adhering to Step 12 in carrying their message to others, Wolf emphasizes that the treatment and recovery stories to be featured on the site can reflect any type of successful treatment. He adds that a family member who witnessed a loved one’s successful treatment experience also may submit a video. He won’t be encouraging participants to identify where treatment took place, because he doesn’t want the site’s content to come across as a marketing pitch for any facility.
Wolf has included on the site a resource for getting help; he started this by listing all treatment organizations represented in NAATP, classified by state. He is inviting other centers that want to be listed on the site to contact the campaign so they may be included.
Wolf says this new effort is modeled after the “It Gets Better” campaign that targets LGBT youth. “That was simple and easy and went viral so quickly,” he says.
He adds that his effort shares characteristics of initiatives to publicize recovery stories from groups such as Faces & Voices of Recovery. But while that organization has multiple initiatives occurring at the same time, Wolf wants to keep this campaign focused to sharing stories alone, serving the dual purpose of reassuring individuals who need help and legitimizing treatment and recovery within the general public.
“There’s been so much negativity, around the stars who have been through five rehabs,” says Wolf. “It makes people conclude that treatment doesn’t work.”