Brooke Feldman and Evan Figueroa-Vargas came to speak to our class on Tuesday, February 13, 2018 about their personal stories with recovery, as well as racial representation and social justice in the recovery movement.

Figueroa-Vargas has been in recovery since 2011. He told our class that he tried countless times to go to Girard Medical Center in Philadelphia to get help for his addiction, but was denied. It wasn’t until he was arrested and went to jail that he was presented with the same treatment and recovery options he was trying to seek out prior to going to jail.

“I am an example of the system not working,” said Figueroa-Vargas, who is Latino. “The system really let me know.”

Feldman is also in long-term recovery. She spoke about how the recovery advocacy movement is predominately white and how that’s problematic. We have a white centered movement with a very white washed tale of addiction, she added. It was refreshing to hear a white person’s point of view on this problem, as many white people are pretty blind to the fact that the opioid crisis is portrayed as predominately white. She also told our class that as journalists, we are at the forefront of the public’s perception of issues, especially the opioid epidemic. So we need to be including more black and brown people in the conversations.