Greg McNeil is the recovery reporter America needs, and he’s bringing his podcasts to ROR on all subjects related to the opioid crisis and solutions. Greg’s Ohio business is web design, but his passion has turned to interview journalism. He doesn't think of himself as a journalist, but rather someone impacted by the loss of his son Sam to a Fentanyl-laced Heroin overdose in 2015, who "wants to share the education I wish I had had when we were going through the recovery process."
In two short years Greg has produced 186 (as of today) podcast interviews with an unbelievably wide range of people who work in the Addiction and Recovery fields. He's learned a lot about addiction, and the good work that many communities are doing to address the crisis.
For mainstream media journalists, if it bleeds it leads. For Greg, it's just the opposite. If it helps, that's the story he wants to tell. As far as we know there is not another reporter like Greg McNeil. He’s the 60 Minutes kind of reporter the recovery effort needs. Many people are well educated when it comes to recovery, but few are dedicated to public information the way Greg is.
Greg told me he develops a whopping two 30-minute Cover2 podcasts a week in his "People Places and Things" podcast series because the more he learns, the more he wants to know. While local reporters may cover addiction and recovery issues, he told me; they don't travel to report on events far from their zip codes. That means there's no national aggregation of widely distributed recovery news stories from which all communities can learn: models that can be replicated, prevention tools that work and can be shared. A consistent flow of information is needed, and creating that repository of information is Greg's mission.
Greg uncovers the dark side of recovery, too, as with his story on the Florida Shuffle with Dave Aronberg, leader of the Sober Homes Task Force in Pam Beach County.
I met Greg at the CARA Family Day in Washington D.C. on April 25, where we were lobbying on behalf of the Addiction Policy Forum for 61 Congressional Bills dealing with opioid crisis that happened to be on the table the week of April 25. As we met with our Congress people and Senators, it quickly became clear to me that our lawmakers didn’t know there was no policy for public information or services for family members and children. Just like the Surgeon General’s Report on Addiction failed to mention family members and children. It’s as if the 120 million people traumatized and destroyed by addiction don’t matter....
Like many families of loss, as Greg calls those left behind by overdose and suicide, Greg was consumed by the desire to know what went wrong, and "to help others understand that recovery is not as Hollywood portrays it. You have to gear up, not just for one stint in rehab or one relapse, but for the rest of our lives," he says. He didn't understand the need for vigilance and the many, many service providers involved in treating an opioid addiction for successful long term recovery.
His grief caused a transformation that led him to the kind of activism that especially resonates with us. Greg literally gets on the road to keep learning and sharing more.
Only a few weeks after we met in D.C., Greg was on the road to Florida. Before interviewing Dave Aronberg, Florida State Attorney in Palm Beach County who is leading the Sober Homes Task Force, Greg flew to Sarasota, to visit the ROR offices, have lunch, and talk with us. Soon we'll be visiting Greg in his studio in Ohio.
Here are just a few of the subjects Greg has covered recently.
Ep. 173 – Greg Interviews David Sheff, One of Time Magazine’s “Top 100 Most Influential People”
Ep. 175 – A Discussion with one of Time Magazine’s “Top 100 People Who Shape Our World” Dr. Nora Volkow
Ep. 174 – Cover2 Salutes First Responders and Recognizes First Responders Appreciation Week
Ep. 176 – How to Be a Respectable Junkie: Greg Vovos, Cuyahoga County Public Library in Parma
Ep. 177 – Expanding Naloxone Availability Throughout Our Country to Save Lives
Ep. 178 – Addiction and Sobriety with “My Fair Junkie” author, Amy Dresner
Ep. 179 – Mayor’s Task Force to Combat the Opioid Epidemic in Philadelphia
Ep. 180 – Plant Manager Addresses Drug Addiction in Workplace Head On
Ep. 181 – Using Genetics to Treat Addiction with Dr. Howard Wetsman
Watch for Greg on ROR, and check out Cover2's archive.