Viacom and Facing Addiction Join U.S. Surgeon General to Address America’s Addiction Crisis

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LOS ANGELES--- Global media brand Viacom and national non-profit Facing Addiction announced today the airing of a 30-minute commercial free television special on Friday, November 18 to ignite a national conversation about addiction as a public health epidemic. The event coincides with the release of the first-ever U.S. Surgeon General report on alcohol, drugs, and health.

Taped at the Paramount Theater in Los Angeles, California, Listen: Facing Addiction in America will combine live discussion with musical performances to spur open dialogue, celebrate the success found in recovery, and empower friends and family to support those struggling with this chronic illness. Dr. Drew Pinsky and MTV News senior correspondent Ana Marie Cox will co-host the event, which will feature U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame guitarist Joe Walsh, award-winning R&B artist Mario, Detroit rapper Royce Da 5’9”, comedian Gary Owen, actor Danny Trejo, professional skateboarder Brandon Novak, bar consultant and Spike TV personality Jon Taffer, activist and Logo TV alum Brandon Kneefel, U.S. Army veteran and author Shilo Harris, as well as leading advocates and Americans from across the country who have been impacted by addiction.

Friday’s special will also launch “LISTEN, ” a national PSA campaign produced by Viacom Velocity, the company’s in-house creative content agency, in partnership with the Ad Council, the largest producer of public service campaigns in the U.S. The campaign, which centers on the theme of empathetic listening, will direct audiences to resources where they can find information and get help for themselves or their loved ones.

“Addiction has touched the lives of a large majority of our fans, as it has tens of millions of Americans. We’re proud to be working with Facing Addiction and the Surgeon General to break down the barriers of shame and stigma associated with this illness, and to spread the message that recovery is possible for everyone,” said Ali Jannello Tuck, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility for Viacom. “Viacom isn’t afraid to tackle tough social issues, and in the face of this crisis, we urge people to listen, to inform themselves, and to act with compassion to help save lives.”

“Viacom and the Surgeon General are taking unprecedented action this week on what has become a leading cause of death for young people in America,” Greg Williams, Co-Founder of Facing Addiction. “As an organization working to bring the best resources together to save lives and support the 45 million Americans directly impacted by addiction, Facing Addiction, realizes that turning the tide on the addiction crisis is going to require new bold action from all sectors. We are grateful to be partnering with these committed stakeholders who will launch a productive and science-informed campaign on addiction like our country has never seen before.”

"We need to change the way we see addiction – not as a moral failing but as a chronic illness that we should approach with the same determination as we do diabetes, heart disease, and cancer,” said U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy. “All of us have a role to play in ending this crisis. Awareness initiatives, like the Viacom ‘Listen’ campaign, can help change negative attitudes surrounding addiction.”

Listen: Facing Addiction in America will air Friday on BET, Comedy Central, CMT, Logo, MTV, MTV2, MTV Classic, MTV Live, Spike, TV Land, and VH1. Please check your local listings for airtimes.

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