THE BLOG
10/23/2014 04:03 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Anonymous People

On Wednesday, November 19, 2014, Silver Hill Hospital, a not-for-profit facility located in New Canaan, CT providing comprehensive inpatient, residential, and outpatient programs for adolescents and adults covering the full spectrum of psychiatric diagnoses, will hold its fifth annual fall gala at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City. This year's gala will honor longtime supporter John Silverman, Chairman and CEO, Silver Seal Corporation & Co-Executive Producer, "The Anonymous People," and Deann E. Murphy, the co-chairperson of the Silver Hill Hospital Board of Directors.

John Silverman, who will receive the 2014 President's Award at the gala, has an inspiring story of resilience and recovery and is now celebrating 30 years of sobriety. In 1984, after struggling for many years with alcoholism, John entered recovery and subsequently was able to rebuild his personal and professional life, which culminated in the founding of his private investigative firm Silverman Associates. John is currently chairman and CEO of Silver Seal Corporation with affiliates worldwide. In addition to his company, John is also the co-executive producer of the recently released documentary "The Anonymous People." The film is an in-depth view on how deeply entrenched social stigma and discrimination has kept recovery voices silent for decades.

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You're being honored by Silver Hill Hospital at their 2014 gala, as a result of your many years of generous support. What does this honor mean to you? Why is it important for you to be involved with the hospital?

Silver Hill Hospital is nationally recognized for the treatment of psychiatric and addictive disorders, whose comprehensive, wide-ranging treatment programs have helped patients find the path to mental health and wellness for more than 80 years. As a person in long-term recovery, I know first-hand how a hospital like Silver Hill is so necessary for treating not only addiction, but mental illness as well.

How did you become involved with Silver Hill?

I have two very close friends whose lives were transformed because of their commitment to stay at Silver Hill Hospital and continue with their program of recovery. It is an honor and privilege to be the recipient of this year's presidential award and help raise awareness for mental health issues.

This year you're celebrating 30 years of sobriety. What advice would you give to other people struggling with addiction? How do you make that first step toward recovery?

One of the most important components of recovery is that you have to want it, not just need it. You have to want to recover for yourself. An addict has to be willing to go to any lengths and commit to a program of recovery. We can't do it alone. Silver Hospital provides that kind of support and treatment. The doctors and clinicians are dedicated to providing patients with a thorough diagnostic assessment, evidence-based treatment and the best chance for recovery.

How do you think the public perceives addiction?

One of the biggest misconceptions about addiction is that it's a choice we make, so I want to be clear here -- it is not choice, it is a disease. Through my experience, I can tell you that when I was a kid thinking about what I would become, my dream wasn't to lose my career. I did not aspire to become homeless. It's what happened to me. I don't believe an active alcoholic or addict has a choice unless you're in a program of recovery.

You recently co-executive produced the award-winning documentary, The Anonymous People, which focused on the public stigma of addiction. What do you hope the documentary will accomplish?

My hope for our film is to educate those in recovery that SECRECY = DEATH. How can I help someone if I don't talk about what happened to me, and how I ultimately got into recovery? The film also speaks to advocacy: We are 23 million people in recovery with parents, siblings, children and friends of voting age. We are one of the largest groups of unheard people in this country. My hope is that the film helps to eliminate the stigma of addiction and give those in recovery the personal freedom to talk about their own experience.

What do you recommend to people whose friends or family members are struggling? In your experience, what are the best forms of support?

Get them into a recovery program like Silver Hill Hospital. Each year at the Gala, we have heard from recovering Silver Hill Hospital patients who tell stories of how the treatment and care saved their lives. Silver Hill's team of experienced, talented and dedicated clinical staff has advanced specialty training in addiction and mental health illnesses. If you are struggling or someone you know is struggling, reach out, make a call, take comfort from the places like Silver Hill that can help you down the road to recovery, and find a place in your community with an aftercare program to help maintain it.

For more information about Silver Hill Hospital, please visit: silverhillhospital.org
To watch "The Anonymous People" film, please visit: manyfaces1voice.org