This weeks post is from my good friend Rose Lockinger, who shared her post with me about how the Generation Found movie documentary came to be. Thanks Rose for sharing your interview with us. This amazing documentary will be shown in Encinitas on Wed 9/14 at 7 pm – click here to learn more about the screening this week. https://gathr.us/screening/172 50
Greg Williams’ story is an inspiration for anyone who thinks that getting sober means you have to settle for a life of subpar achievement and happiness. He bucks the popular notion that to be sober is to anonymously go out about your life, living in two separate worlds, one where you are open to be yourself and one where you hide one of the largest parts of who you are. He is a filmmaker, a public health advocate, and a staunch supporter of not recovering in secrecy.
However, Greg’s journey to becoming one of the forefront leaders in addiction activism started out similar to every other addict and alcoholic. Like many other American teens Greg started drinking and using drugs around the age of 13. He says that for a time his parents reacted similarly to many parents of teenagers who abuse drugs and they sort of turned a blind eye. They would find pot in his room and believe it wasn’t a big deal because as he puts it they thought “he was just going through a phase.”
That was until Greg was sixteen. By this point in his addiction he had already begun stealing from his parents and he had progressed to using Oxycontin and other prescription drugs. His mother intervened and started to drug test him regularly, brought him to a number of different therapists, and also tried to get him to go to an outpatient treatment program.
At the time Greg, like many other people who are in active addiction, did not really think that the drugs were his problem. He believed that his family was the issue or that only certain drugs were his problem and that he could continue to drink and smoke pot with impunity. This however changed on July 14, 2001 when Greg got into a near fatal car accident that forever altered his life path.
After getting in the accident Greg walked away from the scene and made his way to the center of his town. He was covered in blood because of the accident and it didn’t take long for the police to pick him up. They called his family and told them what happened, but only this time his mother refused to bail him out of the trouble.
Greg says that his mother had come to his aid in the past and knowing that she was finally done with him really changed his perspective on his addiction. Since he was involved in an accident while under the influence he was sent to an inpatient treatment program and his journey to recovery began.
After treatment Greg attended Quinnipiac University where he received a Bachelor Degree in Media Production and then went on to attend New York University where he received a Master of the Arts Degree in Public Health Policy.
Driven by his own personal experiences in recovery and his passion for film Greg directed his first feature length in 2013 called The Anonymous People. The film centers around the societal stigma attached to drug addiction in this country and how this stigma creates a void in which no real dialogue about addiction can take place. Since no dialogue is taking place thousands of people every year die because they are unable to get the help they so desperately need, whether that be because of public policy or because of fear of exposing their problem. The goal behind the film was to shift this dialogue and allow for people who are in recovery to be open with their experiences so that the media and public opinion can have a different take on what it means to be an addict.
Greg himself has stated that for the first five years that he was in recovery he never spoke about it because he was ashamed. He was immensely proud of the fact that he was in recovery but due to the stigma attached to what that meant he didn’t share it in the broader public sphere. Coming to the realization that this was possibly a determinate to people he could help, he decided to start sharing about his experiences in recovery and hopefully change the public discourse on it.
The film was a huge success, creating a cult following in the recovery community and the broader public. It received critical claim,a number of awards and to this day is still being shown in cities around the country.
Continuing on the success of his first feature length documentary Williams just released his second film Generation Found, last week. The film explores recovery high schools in this country and how in order to properly support addicted teens we need to rethink our approach to how we treat addiction among the youth.
Williams himself says that one of the reasons why he was able to get sober at the age of 17 is because of the support that was afforded to him by continuous support groups and outside help. He says that without these things and the support of his family he doesn’t know if he would be alive today.
Now 31, Williams has been in recovery for 12 years and shows no sign of slowing down. His public advocacy for addicted populations and thought provoking films are creating a new public space in which people in recovery can exercise their rights to speech. By putting himself out there, Williams is giving voice to a people who for too long have stayed quiet about who they are and what their fellows need. This coupled with other recent changes that have occurred in public policy regarding addiction is hopefully the ushering in of a new era of addicted peoples, one where they no longer have to feel ashamed about their past and they are longer criminalized for suffering from an illness. I am excited to see what the future has in store for Greg Williams and us anonymous people.
Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful