Earth Day, Google Doodles, and the Recovery Movement

September 4, 2014

Kimberly Johnson, MSEd, MBA
NIATx Deputy Director
Co-Director, ATTC Network Coordinating Office

Earth Day image
At first, it seemed like a radical idea, with Rachel Carson and scientists talking about how industrialization was destroying our environment, but on the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took part in rallies across the nation to demonstrate for clean air and water. A wave of legislation after the event created United States Environmental Protection Agency and led to the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.

Earth Day raised consciousness and created fertile ground for research on ways to protect the environment. As a result, many environmental issues have improved in the U.S.: we have cleaner air and water, and thanks to recycling, we send much less garbage to landfills. Anyone that can remember the 1970’s knows that there has been a tremendous improvement in the environment here in the U.S. Earth Day is a now an international event that’s noted on calendars and even has its own Google doodle.

What if we could make the substance use disorders as rare as dumping chemical waste into the water? What if we applauded addiction recovery as widely as the return of an endangered species?
This month marks SAMHSA’s 25th National Recovery Month, with the theme “Join the Voices for Recovery: Speak Up, Reach Out.” Events and activities across the country are encouraging people in recovery to “go public” about how they live recovered lives. One event that you won’t want to miss is SAMHSA’s live, interactive webcast at 12 noon CST on September 15, Recovery and Health: Echoing through the Community. SAMHSA is encouraging organizations to take action and set up “Echo Events”— community organized meetings held in tandem with the webcast. Find out how you can host your own Echo Event.

National experts on the SAMHSA webcast include recovery movement leader William White, who has also contributed the feature article “Tribute to the Recovery Movement” to the September ATTC Messenger. And our Third Thursday iTraining (September 18, 2pm EST) this month features speakers from Young People in Recovery.

You'll also want to mark your calendars for Wednesday, September 17, 2-4pm EST, when  the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is hosting Recovery at the White House. You're invited to host a viewing party of the event, which will be broadcast live on This event will feature tweets with questions for panelists in recovery on stage. To find out more, contact Nataki MacMurray at
All of these activities underscore the message delivered in SAMHSA's Recovery Month Kick-off webcast on September 4. Combating the public health crisis of addiction requires a coordinated effort among addiction treatment providers, government officials, law enforcement, researchers, schools, churches, community groups, families…anyone and everyone affected by addiction.

I used to want a ribbon or a wristband for the Recovery Movement. Now I’m thinking Google Doodle. Why? Who cares? Because a symbol of recognition that reaches beyond those of us working in the field or in recovery ourselves is an important marker. If we are ever going to clean up our environment and make addiction rare and recovery lauded, we need to build the movement, gain the attention of the general public, all of whom are affected by substance abuse in some way, and make every month Recovery Month.

Kimberly Johnson, NIATx Deputy Director and ATTC Network Coordinating Office Co-Director, served for seven years as the director of the Office of Substance Abuse in Maine. She has also served as an executive director for a treatment agency, managed intervention and prevention programs, and has worked as a child and family therapist. She joined NIATx in 2007 to lead the ACTION Campaign, a national initiative to increase access to and retention in treatment. She is currently involved in projects with the ATTC Network and NIATx that focus on increasing implementation of evidence-based practices, testing mobile health applications, and developing distance-learning programs for behavioral health. 

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