Recovering Love

SkyWorks Charitable Foundation, Laura Sky and David Adkin

2010, 72:00 minutes, colour, English


Recovering Love peels away the layers of prejudice and punishment that confront women – especially mothers—who are dealing with addiction. This documentary shows the impact of that condemnation, but also looks deeper into the systemic issues that lead to addiction in the first place, including trauma and abuse, racism, and discrimination.

This is a documentary about women who are deeply committed to their relationship with their children and who are also committed to recovering from their addictions. The documentary includes the wise voices of their kids who have experienced their mothers’ substance use and who are so much a part of their mothers’ reclaiming their hopes.

The women in the film are recovering their love for themselves, for their children, and building their capacities to love and support each other. They have benefited tremendously from the support of their families, co-workers, front line advocates and their communities.

Key audiences for this documentary will include women dealing with substance use, their families and co-workers, as well as child and family support and social service agencies, health care programs, children’s aid programs, schools and colleges, the courts, prisons, lawyers and the police.
Recovering Love is designed to inform and encourage these audiences to understand and support women and their families.

Recovering Love was filmed with the participation of The Jean Tweed Centre in Toronto, and Iris Addiction Recovery for Women in Sudbury.

The Stories:

We meet several women at a family weekend retreat hosted by Iris Addiction Recovery for Women outside of Sudbury, Ontario.

Aline is a substance abuse counselor whose work is informed by her own journey through recovery. She used alcohol to mask the pain of childhood sexual abuse.

Lynn lived with the pressure to be the perfect wife in a marriage that wasn’t working. Her recovery “has given her back Lynn”.

Phyllis is a self-described middle class woman who has hidden her pain behind the appearance of strength. Her adult daughter Valerie loves her mother, but feels that she doesn’t know her. They are in the process of finding honesty and connection.

June talks about the stigmas she experiences as a black woman dealing with addictions and particular discrimination experienced by women who live in social housing.

Natalie is very honest about the benefits and losses in her use of drugs and alcohol. Her sister, Nicole, has come to the retreat to support her.

Angela lost her nursing license 12 years ago because of her use of narcotics and is hoping to re-establish her nursing work. She is working her way through shame and guilt.

Teenagers Cassy and Rebecca speak honestly from their perspectives about their mothers’ substance use, and their needs and hopes.

Amanda is an Aboriginal woman. She recognizes the legacies of her identity, and shows us the strength and perseverance in rebuilding her life.

At the Jean Tweed Centre for Women and their families in Toronto, we are introduced to the Pathways to Healthy Families Program. Here, we meet two young mothers, Annie and Grace, who have fought with love and tenacity to reclaim their children who were apprehended by children’s aid societies.

Grace felt discriminated against on the basis of her young age. She was determined to find advocates and support in her efforts to reclaim custody of her son. Annie felt stereotyped because she is an Aboriginal woman. She reached out for support in her efforts to keep her baby safe, facing profound disappointment and grief until she found the right support agency.

Both women speak to the enormous difference the support of counselors, advocates and parenting programs have made to their healing process and their opportunities to parent their children.

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Critical Writing

Henderson: Recovering Love is about reclaiming lives
by Helen Henderson. The Toronto Star, Nov. 19, 2010.