Media and Recovery: A Rare Tip of the Hat


I have argued for years in my publications and speeches that American media outlets contribute to the social stigma that challenges and limits the lives of people in addiction recovery. Media coverage of recovery has historically been rare and tangential--usually conflated with active addiction and addiction treatment. Recovery is portrayed as an exception to the rule, with the media's prolonged obsession with the mayhem and deaths of addicted celebrities feeding professional and public pessimism about the prospects of successful, long-term addiction recovery. Even when recovery is addressed, it has been most often told from the perspective of the recovery initiate rather than from the perspective of long-term personal and family recovery. But on rare occasions, a media leader gets the story right.

The Meredith Vieira Show recently aired a follow-up to a piece on Oxford House that Meredith Vieira did for 60 Minutes in 1991. Here's why this show deserves accolades. It shares the inspiring stories of people in long-term recovery, including those profiled in the original 1991 60 Minutes episode. It includes the faces and voices of women and people of color in long-term recovery. Rather than a few isolated stories, it shows a large segment of the show's audience standing as people in long-term recovery. It conveys, through the individual stories, the powerful role of community support in long-term recovery. And the show acknowledges the historical emergence of new community support institutions beyond the more typical portrayal of addiction treatment.

To Meredith Vieira and her producers, I extend a tip of the hat for a job well done. Check out the show by clicking here.