Phoenix House tries to change the perception of rehab

The organization rolled out a video this week as part of its Live Unaddicted campaign to change the perception of addiction treatment.

NEW YORK: Nonprofit rehab organization Phoenix House is taking on negative perceptions of addiction and recovery in its latest campaign, called Live Unaddicted.

Phoenix House, which operates drug and alcohol addiction recovery programs in 10 states, is taking a different approach to talking about addiction, stressing it can affect anyone and shedding light on the recovery process with an animated video and social media campaign.

"If you look at marketing efforts in this space, there's a spectrum that goes from the darker side with a little bit of the fear, to the opposite of the spectrum that’s very optimistic to the point of being unrealistic in some cases," said Byron Calamese, chief experience officer for Phoenix House. "We wanted to hit that middle point, to be real, tell the story of addiction treatment in a way the everyday people will ultimately connect with."

The video tells the story of Dylan, who is addicted to painkillers, and explains his journey to recovery, which includes help from friends and family, talk therapy and support groups with Phoenix House, and picking up healthy habits.

The organization is spreading the video on social media and running a shorter version in advertising on websites such as The New York Times. Calamese said the group is trying to reach a wide audience to educate it about addiction treatment, particularly working professionals who can be susceptible to opioid addictions.

"We’ve done a number of focus groups, one of the things we've learned is people don’t understand what happens in [addiction] treatment," Calamese said. "We want to focus on recovery being health and wellness lifestyle, not simply about stopping a particular behavior or about being a specific number of days sober, but about what are you doing to bring more focus in your life."

Phoenix House worked with BerlinRosen on PR for the campaign and Versus to create the animated video, which debuted on Sunday.

The organization is also aiming to tell its own story through the video, showing how treatment is individually tailored to the fictional Dylan, as well as its strategy of focusing on patient’s "personal strengths."

"It’s a great opportunity for us to tell our story and what makes us unique and different from other [rehab centers]," Calamese said. "From a clinical standpoint, we take a holistic look at the individual and develop an individual care plan. We wanted bring that story to life. Our focus is helping all people in need, and the people we’re trying to target come from all backgrounds."

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