LGBT Pride Movement – Lessons for the Addiction Recovery Movement?

LGBT Pride Movement – Lessons for the Addiction Recovery Movement?

This week-end, I am moved to ask, “Are there lessons for the Addiction Recovery Movement to be learned from the LGBT Pride Movement?” I ask because I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and this week-end is Pride Week-end.

City Hall is lit up in pride colors.

Annual Pink Triangle Installation

Annual Pink Triangle Installation

San Francisco City Hall light up in Pride colors for Pride Week-end.

San Francisco City Hall lit up in Pride colors for Pride Week-end, June 27-29.

The annual Pink Triangle installation took place on Saturday, which commemorates the gay victims who were persecuted and killed in concentration camps in Nazi Germany starting in 1933 through the end of WWII.

The Pride Kick-off Party was held at the Fairmont’s Pavilion Room and Garden Court, and Friday news reports were estimating the turn out would be around 2 million people (SF’s population is around 826,000).

And it’s not just happening in SF! It is also Pride Week-end in New York City, St. Louis, the Twin Cities and the City of St Petersberg (FL). There’ve been Pride week-end celebrations in so many other cities this month, as well as others that have already taken place or are planned for later in the year. And these are no small events! There are parades, art exhibits, music festivals, family picnics, kick-off parties….

Not only all of this, but the sponsors for these various celebrations are companies we all know: Wells Fargo Bank, MasterCard, Washington University in St. Louis, Dominos Pizza, Pickles Deli, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, DietCoke®, Delta Airlines, Netflix, BudLight, Sky Vodka, Marriott, Whole Foods,  Burger King, Target, AARP, Virgin America….

I am thrilled and in awe of what the LGBT Community has done to raise awareness, to shatter the stigma and shame, to thwart the notion that a person “chooses” to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, and to help the general public at large understand and accept members of the LGBT Community for what they are – PEOPLE.


People. Period!

Are There Lessons for the Addiction Recovery Movement to be Learned From the LGBT Pride Movement?

I grant there are definite differences between the Addiction Recovery Movement and the LGBT Pride Movement. There is not the family wreckage of secondhand drinking | secondhand drugging (aka codependency) that accompanies addiction, for example, nor is there the cost and necessity of treatment for a brain disease with its hallmark relapse factor. But there are significant similarities. There is the public notion that addiction is a choice; that people with the brain disease of addiction are bad, weak-willed, morally corrupt; that having this disease means you should be terminated from your job; that recovering from this disease should be kept a big, fat secret; as well as society’s general failure to see those who struggle with this disease or who are living healthy, happy lives in recovery as PEOPLE.


People. Period.

So I ask – what lessons can the Addiction Recovery Movement learn from the LBGT Pride Movement so that the more than one-third the American population affected by this brain disease, whether they are the person with the disease or the person who loves, lives and/or works with them who are experiencing their own secondhand drinking-, secondhand drugging-related health and quality of life consequences, will rally in Addiction Recovery Pride and step boldly into the light with week-end celebrations featuring huge parades, art exhibits, music festivals, family picnics and kick-off parties; with City Hall domes lit in recovery purple and with national brand event sponsors. Most importantly, I ask: What lessons can the Addiction Recovery Movement learn from the LBGT Pride Movement so that those with and those affected by this disease will be treated with respect and support in their homes and families; in their workplaces, schools and communities; in their legal and judicial bodies and by their health care services providers — most importantly, I ask, what lessons can be learned to help the general public at large understand and accept members of the Addiction Recovery Community for what they are – PEOPLE.


People. Period!

And Please Know…

These questions are not to take away from the huge inroads that are being made in the Addiction Recovery Movement thanks to Faces and Voices of Recovery, ManyFaces1Voice and SAMHSA’s Recovery Month and the hundreds of other organizations and millions more individuals who’ve been fighting for DECADES the stigma, misinformation and shame that still keeps addiction, addiction recovery and secondhand drinking | drugging lurking in the shadows.

Related Posts

Join the Addiction Recovery Movement

Family Disease of Addiction – Expand Health Care to Treat Both Sides

Family Law Discrimination Against Recovering Alcoholics | Addicts

Business Costs of Employee Off-Hours Drinking | Secondhand Drinking

© 2014 Lisa Frederiksen

Lisa Frederiksen

Lisa Frederiksen

Author | Speaker | Consultant | Founder at
Lisa is the author of hundreds of articles and 11 books, including "If You Loved Me, You'd Stop!," "Addiction Recovery: What Helps, What Doesn't," and "Secondhand Drinking: the Phenomenon That Affects Millions." She is a national keynote speaker with over 25 years speaking experience, consultant, and founder of She has spent more than 14 years studying 21st century brain research in order to write, speak, and consult on substance use disorders prevention, intervention and treatment; mental disorders; addiction (aka substance use disorders) as a brain disease; adolescent addiction treatment vs adult addiction treatment; effective treatment for co-occurring disorders (having both a substance use and mental disorder); secondhand drinking | drugging; help for the family; and related subjects. In 2015, she founded SHD Prevention, providing training and consulting to companies, public agencies, unions, nonprofits and other entities to address the workplace impacts of employee secondhand drinking and alcohol misuse.
Lisa Frederiksen

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14 Responses to LGBT Pride Movement – Lessons for the Addiction Recovery Movement?

  1. Herby Bell says:


    People. Period! Indeed…You have struck a chord with me and you have struck gold with this creative post because I think that’s exactly the point: Period!

    Here we have yet another fact of nature that now a HUGE percentage of the population struggles–unnecessarily!–with the still closeted plight of addiction when it’s gotta change and change quickly. Critical mass is a great thing and as my friend Joe Schrank asked, “Hey, what do 40 million recovering people buy? Do they and their families buy/consume the same things that all Americans buy and consume?” Are you LISTENING corporate America?! Listen, if “they” are not interested in human compassion, empathy and adequate healthcare for all, then let’s put on the full court press and appeal to what America’s used to haggling about: Money.

    I’ve HAD IT and as a result I am committed to the Addiction Recovery Movement any way people can get it, because people are dying–or worse…PERIOD!! I swear ta god, Lisa, you’ve inspired me beyond words here. Thank you!

  2. Charlie Buckley says:

    Thank you for sharing such a great and compelling question/statement and dare I say “vision”? 🙂 I believe there are many lessons that can be learned and the first step is openly talking about “it”. No more shame! Shame and embarrassment do indeed kill, needlessly and indiscriminately. Education and awareness, and talk about awareness, WOW, what a fantastic example PRIDE days are relative to awareness. In one generation, the LGBT community have changed the public perception so much, and while far from eradicating the “shame”, “embarrassment”, and “stigma” associated with being a member of the LGBT community, it has improved the quality of life for those within the LGBT community, and WITHOUT A DOUBT SAVED LIVES AND FAMILIES! God Bless You, keep up the great work!

    With tremendous gratitude,
    Charlie Buckley

    P.S. Thanks in no small part to you, addiction and recovery are no longer “taboo” topics in my family. Tomorrow I celebrate 9 months clean and sober, one day at a time. Odd, since it was last July 10th that I experienced my epic crash and burn 🙂 and had my last rites read to me on July 12th. Since January, I have been blessed to speak directly to over 15,000 middle and high school students, and bring education and awareness to countless others through a weekly radio show. It all started with YOU Lisa. Your decision to ask me to be interviewed for your “Face of Recovery” started it all. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    • That’s is fantastic that you’ve reached 15,000 middle and high school students – just terrific!! And this was wonderful to read, as well, “…addiction and recovery are no longer “taboo” topics in my family.” I’m thrilled for you and your recovery, Charlie, and thank you so very much for your compliment and comment!!

  3. Beth Wilson says:


    Wow! You rocked this piece! You know I’m OUT on all counts!

    I so appreciate the banding together of friends, colleagues, etc, etc, for worthy and noble causes. I so appreciate YOU!

  4. Wonderful post, Lisa!I love it. I know I felt the energy even in my side of the bay this weekend. I decided not to travel into the city to visit my kids because of the crowds. We need to see that kind of stop the traffic enthusiasm for recovery and I too hope it comes sooner rather than later. Thanks for sharing. This is an important and noteworthy comparison.

    • YES! Love your line, “We need to see that kind of stop the traffic enthusiasm for recovery…” Very much appreciate your comment, and I so enjoy working with you to do our parts for making this happen.

  5. Thanks for the well-considered post, Lisa. Whether one is in-step with the LGBT agenda, one has to admit they’re accomplishing their mission. They’ve played a lot of political hardball and continue to do so. At a grass roots level, they aren’t known as the most open-minded/nicest folks in the world (which may surprise some). But, hey, perhaps that’s what it takes to knock-out stigma and discrimination. You’re always bringing us current and creative stuff, Lisa – and it’s appreciated…

  6. Lisa Frederiksen my friend, it’s 2015. Last year the addiction crisis was finally heard , with the unnecessary deaths of our children. This idea is a must ! Light up the skies , the White House , the Empire, the Statue … Change addictions futur without the monetary goals that created it ! We’ve been dying for over 100 years. Educate our babies along with thee ABCs … Include yesterday’s Drug History in today’s History Classes.
    I promote all of the above ! sincerely, Craig/Dad-2

  7. James Elmore says:

    Such a wonderful post, Lisa, thank you! San Francisco Pride 2015 is around the corner and I am planning to attend this year. The Velvet Rage, by Dr. Alan Downs, helped me to see that my own process of recovery was really part of our recovery from social shaming. I recently heard of a study where rats offered a cocaine laced water bottle did NOT become addicts, because they were also being supplied with everything necessary for a happy rat life. Addiction is simply pain management used by a person living in a system that isn’t meeting their needs. It is our environment that needs recovery, not the people who inhabit it. I hope this Pride turns out be one that meets my needs for community, friendship, purpose and connection

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