As American lawmakers are grappling with ways to respond to what many are calling the worst drug crisis in American history, online support communities have taken a stand.
Lara Frazier is part of this movement. She is the co-founder of Addiction Unscripted, and since its inception in April of 2015, the website has been visited millions of times. No, that is not an overstatement. Millions.
“Addiction Unscripted is a community that fosters hope, healing, and togetherness for those affected by addiction. We’ve created this site to give everyone a voice, and to give meaning and purpose to all of our stories of brokenness that actually make us whole,” said Frazier, in recovery from substance abuse herself. “People need to hear our stories.”
After multiple trips to county psych wards, drug-induced psychosis, and homelessness, Frazier made the choice to seek help and heal.
“I committed to recovery by putting one foot in front of the other,” stated Frazier. “I stopped thinking I deserved the whole world, and instead, started thinking about what the world deserved. I did the work.”
Frazier’s mission is to now help others with Addiction Unscripted. The platform is simultaneously a publication and publishing platform and allows anyone to create an account and share their stories, and photos, with the far reaching community of readers and healers. Topics have included views and experiences on every angle of addiction, brokenness, and recovery.
Addiction Unscripted aims to pull the covers back on the true world of addiction and recovery, relying on the community as a whole to share in the conversation.
The Company has teamed up with some of the most talented and influential voices in this field, from all over the world.
“One of the most beautiful parts of our site is that we’ve discovered a perfect blend of professional voices, with the ‘everyday’ person,” said Frazier. “We’ve been amazed to see just how high our engagement rates are when they come from non-professional writers. We’ve learned that people affected by addiction really value the authenticity found in stories written by ‘everyday’ people, from mothers who lost sons, to people active in addiction themselves.”
The original Founder of Addiction Unscripted, Matt Mendoza, has shared his own personal story of rock bottom and recovery, which included waking up in a holding cell at the U.S./Mexico border, while going through the second day of opiate withdrawal and being picked up by the secret service for crimes he had committed to maintain his addiction.
“I have long been an advocate for breaking the stigma that addiction is a ‘moral failing’ and I think it’s this dangerous way of thinking that has kept so many people affected by addiction from seeking the treatment they need,” said Matt Mendoza. “I thought about just how powerful technology has been for other social movements by giving rise to a new generation of activism.”
Before Frazier came on as Co-Founder, Mendoza had partnered with Jason Smith, who played a major part in the foundation of the Company.
“I became increasingly motivated to create something after really connecting to a story I had read about the recovery of a writer named Jason Smith. His story was so similar to mine, and I felt like I had known him before I even reached out to him,” recalled Mendoza. “There’s something special that happens when you hear your own story within someone else’s. When I reached out to Jason I noticed that he was looking for a new job, and I pitched him my idea for a community that could centralize the ideas, thoughts and stories of those in recovery.”
The site has been successful at giving a voice to the often stigmatized and voiceless, allowing them to reveal their stories to those who need to hear them, and provide a hope that can only come from unity in struggle.
“Technology has allowed us to truly offer a unique and compelling way for people to share their stories directly with the people who need to hear them. We’ve built Addiction Unscripted in order to provide unity and community to a population that is desperate to connect. It’s a way of embracing our darkness and using it to transform our lives for the better” explained Frazier. “When we share our stories, we give other people permission to do the same. We provide a healing outlet that is unrivaled in any other space on the web.”
With about 120 deaths per day due to overdose, Frazier believes Addiction Unscripted has the best resources for family members of those who are struggling with addiction. Additionally, those battling addiction and/or who are in recovery, have a place where they can share with others who know exactly what it is like to struggle with this disease, including both Frazier and Mendoza.
“The most beautiful thing is that Matt and I have both struggled with addiction. We know what it’s like to hurt and harm ourselves and our loved ones, over and over again,” expressed Frazier. “We know resources and education in addiction treatment are limited and lacking. Thus, we created a space where people can find anything they need to know about addiction.”
Those with Substance Use Disorder often feel shame, guilt, and isolation, and detach from the “real world” in response. Addiction Unscripted aims to prove that no one is truly alone by sharing experiences, starting discussions, and by allowing readers to comment on one another’s stories.
Drug related deaths now outnumber deaths from gunshot wounds (over 33,600) and motor vehicle crashes (over 32,700) in the United States, according to the CDC. The collateral damage of these tragedies need a safe haven and Addiction Unscripted is just that, for many.
“As the web moves toward centralization, know that you can find a home at Addiction Unscripted,” said Frazier, with a smile.