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New Venture Seeks to Leverage the Power of Recovery Stories

September 09, 2019

A mutual fascination with storytelling has reunited two friends in New Hampshire who hope their venture in promoting recovery stories will build a community of healing.

Matt Conway and T.J. Murphy started RecoverYdia (a hybrid of “recovery” and “media”) as “our response to a suffering world,” as Murphy tells Addiction Professional. They want to counteract the sense of loneliness that ironically has enveloped a technology-connected world—not by waging war against the screen, but by co-opting it through messages of personal triumph.

Murphy says he and Conway have set out to produce 300 to 400 video narratives of individuals' recovery, whether from addiction, trauma, serious injury or other cause. Their mission goes beyond the scope of addiction recovery organizations that encourage public recovery stories, but the overall message should resonate with the field during this time of Recovery Month commemorations.

“We need to find other ways to be able to reach people who live in a society that has created a sense of dread, with the news cycle,” Conway tells Addiction Professional.

Origin of idea

Conway was working in the health care technology field until last year, when he decided that wasn't the ultimate direction for him. He explored work in alternative therapies but then started contemplating a project in digital media storytelling. Murphy, meanwhile, had returned to New Hampshire from working as a musician in California and was leading a recovery choir out of Hope for New Hampshire Recovery, a recovery community organization in Manchester.

Conway saw an article about Murphy's work and reconnected with his old friend. They bonded over the opportunity to identify a vehicle for sharing powerful stories.

Last fall, they organized an event on the eve of Veterans Day in which veterans gathered to share their experiences. They also had attended vigils in tribute to young people lost to addiction, and an idea took shape for an event that would promote healing through community interaction.

Last month, Conway and Murphy organized 10,000 Candles for New Hampshire, holding the event at six locations across the state on the same night. Recovery advocates, first responders and individuals in recovery were among the speakers at the sites, and attendees ranged from field professionals to persons in need of services. Around 1,000 people participated.

A survey of participants went out the next day, and the organizers hope the feedback will help improve future events. This year's participants soon will be invited to another event that will help define next steps.

Conway and Murphy sense the impact this project could have, if it helps to promote the connection that is seen as the antidote to addiction. This is true even though they cannot be certain how exactly their effort will evolve.

What they do know is they want to create a narrative repository. “We need funds to build that,” Murphy says. “Right now we're doing it all: the interviewing, the shooting.” Facebook and YouTube are the current vehicles for sharing the stories they depict on video.

“Social media is a powerful platform,” Murphy says. “Narratives are a powerful way to deliver the message. Being interviewed is cathartic.”

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