"The notion that we can choose a moment to start down the path to a better self is part of the bedrock of the human spirit." This week's guest post, an editorial from the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, introduces the 'Day One' video series and reminds us that "any day can be the day you make a positive change in your life."
News-Miner opinion: People love new beginnings. It’s a fundamental truth that underlies our celebration of New Year’s Day, birthdays, graduations and all manner of life milestones. The notion that we can choose a moment to start down the path to a better self is part of the bedrock of the human spirit. It’s that idea that gives rise to a new campaign by nonprofit group Recover Alaska called Day One, in which Alaskans who formerly abused alcohol tell their stories of addiction and the moment at which they decided enough was enough. Through the Day One campaign, the group is hoping to encourage other Alaskans to both tell their own story of the road to recovery as well as help others choose to make a similar effort.
The campaign is an arm of Recover Alaska’s overall mission to reduce the harm caused by excessive alcohol consumption among Alaskans — another aspect of which is the News-Miner’s ongoing Paths to Recovery series of stories examining efforts to stem alcohol abuse around the state. The eight stories that make up the Day One campaign, found online at day001.org, are varied and captivating. It’s a testament to the broad array of Alaskans afflicted by alcohol abuse issues. Each explains their past troubles with the drug, the moment they chose to quit (and often their reasons for going sober) and what their life has been like since that “Day One.”
It’s an idea that could easily have come off as cliché, but the Alaskans who agreed to participate and share their stories make the videos powerful and affecting. They’re immediately identifiable as real Alaskans, not actors telling other people’s stories. It’s clearly not easy for them. Though the Day One stories are well shot and edited, the emotion is often heavy in their voices as they talk about the effect alcohol has had on their lives. Those profiled in the short videos have also taken the commendable step of being readily identifiable by their names, helping break down the stigma against talking about alcohol abuse issues. Notably, one of the videos profiles Recover Alaska’s executive director herself, Tiffany Hall.
In the space of a little less than two minutes apiece, you find yourself rooting for each of the Alaskans telling their Day One story. Several acknowledge the fact that quitting alcohol has taken them at least a few attempts, with the understood subtext that it’s possible that anyone’s attempt to shake alcohol addiction might not be their last. Looking at what each has accomplished since getting sober, you hope they’re able to maintain it for good.
The message Recover Alaska sends with the videos — that any day can be our Day One — is a worthwhile one and a powerful message to send to those in the throes of alcohol-related trouble. But there’s another message there, too, one that watching all of the eight videos emphasizes. Each of the Alaskans profiled has built a good, vibrant life since their Day One, and collectively, their positive impact on the community is significant. There are tens of thousands of others like them across the state. What would it be like if all of them committed to end their destructive relationship with alcohol? The benefits to the state — and, more importantly, to their families, friends and communities — would be immense.
On its Day One website, alongside the videos, Recover Alaska offers links and phone numbers for those looking to get help, such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association at 1-800-662-HELP or the Alaska help line operated by United Way, available by calling 211 or going to alaska211.org. As the videos show, any day can be the day you make a positive change in your life, and there are resources available to help on Day One and all the days that come after.