‘Anonymous People’ Documentary Shows True Faces of Recovering Addicts

By Danny Hooley Posted February 21, 2014 at 4:05 pm

Drug abuse counselor and consumers affair specialist Jimmy Cioe of Cardinal Innovations Healthcare Solutions in Chapel Hill knows more about addiction than is covered in classroom textbooks.

“I’m in long-term recovery from substance use disorder, and I’ve been drug-free since 1993,” he says.

Cioe says he got clean when he was 39 years old. For the past 18 years, he’s been working as a drug counselor. Four years ago, he moved to Chapel Hill from Ann Arbor, Michigan.

His current employer, Cardinal Innovations, as Cioe describes it, is a managed-care organization that handles behavioral health dollars for the state of North Carolina.

CIHS has teamed up with Recovery Communities of North Carolina and The UNC School of Social Work to present “The Anonymous People,” a 2013 documentary about addiction and recovery by director Greg D. Williams.

The film shows for free on Wednesday, February 26 at The UNC School of Social Work Auditorium at 325 Pittsboro Street. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

According to the School Of Social Work press release, the story is “told through the faces and voices of citizens, leaders, volunteers, corporate executives, public figures, and celebrities who are laying it all on the line to save the lives of others just like them.”

One of the celebrities is actress Kristen Johnston, author of the acclaimed 2013 memoir “Guts.”

It’s plain to see from the film’s trailer that she’s not afraid to talk candidly about her struggles with addiction, and the stigma attached to that.

“I refuse to feel ashamed of who I am,” she says. “I will most certainly not be embarrassed that I’m an addict.”

Cioe says that shame and stigma create barriers to recovery in the U.S., as does the threat of incarceration where treatment would be the better choice.

It’s a point that’s made strongly in the film, and by Cioe.

“We see addiction in the media and in the world plenty,” he says. “But the truth is, and it’s an interesting thing, we don’t see much about recovery. And the fact is, recovery is a real thing. It’s a concrete, real thing, with wonderful benefits, for everybody involved, including society at large.”

That’s the message he says, behind the title “The Anonymous People,” and the work of Recovery Communities of North Carolina, which holds its annual Recovery Rally in Raleigh during National Alcohol and Drug Addiction recovery Month in September.

To find available seats for the February 26 showing of “The Anonymous People” in Chapel Hill, please visit the Web site here.

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