Recover Alaska video series highlights local recovery stories

Film locations broaden across state for second season

Brian Iutzi, a family physician at Ilanka Community Health Center, at his office in Cordova on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. (Photo by Emily Mesner/The Cordova Times)

Season two of Day 001, a Recover Alaska mini biography video series about people who are in recovery, features Cordova’s Brian Iutzi.

Recover Alaska works to reduce the downside of excessive alcohol use through advocacy and social norms change to increase the conversation around alcohol, reduce the stigma, and honor and celebrate recovery, said executive director Tiffany Hall.

During the two-minute feature, Iutzi talked about what drove him to sobriety and his hopes in being open about the subject.

“My day one was Nov. 2 of 2012; it was the day that I tried to commit suicide,” he says at the start of the video. “Took me about 30 seconds to make the decision … that I was an alcoholic and I did need this opportunity to get help.”

The first season of Day 001, created in 2016, featured eight, two-minute videos filmed in Anchorage. This season features a range in locations from Cordova, featuring Iutzi and Thea Thomas, to Fairbanks, Unalakleet and Anchorage.

“I think that sharing stories is just a really powerful way of communicating messages and I think that it is a way to reach across barriers,” Hall said. “Brian highlights that alcohol misuse disorder is not a moral failing, it is a disease.”

For a brief moment, Iutzi questioned whether he wanted to share his story so publicly and vulnerably.

“If I let this out, then everybody’s gonna know and people are gonna judge me for it,” he remembers thinking when asked to be a part of this project.

But that thought quickly vanished as he remembered the driving force behind speaking openly: to reduce the stigma around recovery so people to seek help sooner, and letting people know that there is happiness on the other end of recovery.

“I want people to be able to be open and honest and so I need to be one of those people that starts that process,” he said.

Iutzi is currently a family physician at Ilanka Community Health Center. He has been sober since May 27, 2013.

“One of the biggest things in Cordova is being away from the areas (with alcohol),” he said. “Ice skating on the lake, skiing, running, hiking, climbing. There’s all sorts of stuff … that can all be done without alcohol.”

There are also numerous online resources, including Recover Alaska, he added.

Hall emphasizes that Recover Alaska is not an abstinence-only organization.

“We try to promote healthy lifestyles,” Hall said, adding that abstinence might not be the right choice for everyone. “If people want to start mindfully thinking about their drinking, or if they want to stop, or if they don’t know where to start, please visit our website.”

For more information, visit recoveralaska.org, follow their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at Recover Alaska or call 907-249-6645.