Chris interviews Tom Hill, then Senior Advisor for Addiction and Recovery at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Tom was in Raleigh to speak at our 5th Annual Capital Area Rally for Recovery in September of 2016. Check out the amazing positive media coverage from that event. Chris and Tom originally met at a recovery messaging training organized by the National Alliance of Recovery Residences in May 2012. This fortunate connection led to our inaugural Rally that year and our subsequent membership in The Association of Recovery Community Organizations (ARCO). Tom discusses the epic history of The New National Recovery Movement and the impact of recovery community pioneers like Phil Valentine, Bev Haberle, Don Coyhis, Betty Currier, Dona Dmitrovic, Joe Powell, Andre Johnson, and others.
Tom recalls his introduction to advocacy in the early 90’s. Initiating recovery during this time led to the freedom for Tom to come out about his sexuality. He describes feeling a “relief and liberty” from no longer feeling compelled to hide or pretend. Tom then gained a critical insight about his addiction recovery. He was getting better and he was no longer part of the problem and people were noticing the changes in him. Recovery was giving him a new life, so Tom said, “Why would I hide this?” After graduating from social work school, Tom became involved in HIV activism in Greenwich Village and Queens, NY, and it was then he learned that “we can do so much more together than we can ourselves to change society.” Speaking of the appreciable progress the advocacy movement has made, Tom says, “We have our foot in the door, and I think we have to be really vigilant about pushing that door farther and farther open.”