The October 4, 2015, UNITE to Face Addiction rally in Washington, D.C., was a historic moment for those in recovery and the first-ever rally of it kind. Tens of thousands of supporters touched by addiction turned out on the National Mall in Washington. D.C. for the inaugural event, meant to bring awareness for the struggles faced by those suffering from the disease of addiction. Organizers hailed the event as an opportunity to change the conversation from one of problems to solutions for addiction in America.
The UNITE to Face Addiction rally was organized by Facing Addiction Inc., a 501(c) 3 organization dedicated to finding solutions to the addiction crisis, as well as an independent coalition of national, state, and local non-profit organizations focused on helping individuals and their families cope with the effects of the devastating disease.
Nearly 700 partners joined together to support the rally, which included a star-studded concert on the Mall, featuring syndicated talk-show host and surgeon Mehmet Oz, and musicians that included Sheryl Crow, the Fray, Steven Tyler and Aloe Blacc.
The rally itself was formed to combat the stigma surrounding addiction with a focus on bringing awareness and hope, and give a voice to families and individuals affected by the disease. The organizers say that addiction is the most urgent health issue facing the country, affecting one in three households and nearly 85 million people nationwide.
The UNITE to Face Addiction rally was also the opportune place for U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy to announce the commission of the first ever Surgeon General’s report on alcoholism and addiction. The report promises to offer a stark but realistic view of addiction in America, with suggestions on increasing awareness, offering support, and providing tools for families and individuals seeking recovery.
Donald McFarland, communications director for Facing Addiction, told the Washington Post that the purpose of the rally was to change the conversation about addiction and focus on finding solutions to the crisis that is unfolding in untold numbers of families across America. “That’s why we’re in Washington, D.C., because it is a national health-care crisis,” he said. “The truth of the matter is, ‘just say no’ didn’t work and the war on drugs failed.”