HealthVoices of Hope


Why Joseph Green is sharing his painful story of addiction

Posted at 11:52 AM, Nov 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-24 12:41:22-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Joseph Green never thought he’d be telling his story, let alone sharing it with a worldwide audience. However, the spoken artist and educator said talking about his painful journey, has helped lead him to redemption.

“Everything that I’ve done in my life up until this moment was meant for me to be here, right now, having this conversation with you,” Green said in a new documentary film on addiction.

Green, a Richmond native, plays a starring role in the film, “Tipping the Pain Scale.”

The documentary is about surviving addiction and the emotional pain behind the epidemic of alcohol and drug dependency.

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“As a person who’s been in long-term recovery, I had these moments where I heard other people’s art and other people’s stories and I hope it encourages people to share their story, as it’s safe and comfortable for them,” Green said.

From a young age, Green was winning awards for his poetry.

He attended Virginia Commonwealth University and had a passion for music and the arts.

But by age 28, Green had hit rock bottom, as an alcoholic and avid cocaine user.

After returning home from upstate New York to be with his family, Green was able to find recovery with the support of loved ones. However, he wasn’t able to help save the life of a close friend who overdosed in New York before he was able to help him. The tragedy motivated Green to share his story through poetry and education.

Green’s poem “Talk Ugly” has been shared with addiction groups across the country and was featured in the documentary film.

Green recently attended a public screening of “Tipping the Pain Scale” at the Henrico Theater.

The film was attended by several in the recovery community, along with state and federal prosecutors. Green also met with an addiction group in Henrico County.

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To help battle mental health issues impacting children, Green also writes curriculum for schools and travels to meet with young people around the United States to allow them to speak their truths and share their fears and insecurities, factors that can often lead to addiction.

“The work that I do is often seen as prevention,” Green said. “Working with young people and trying to give them access to the tools they need and instilling in them those coping mechanisms, those protective factors that will allow them to weather the inevitable storm that comes into everyone’s life.”

Now living in the Washington D.C. area, Green said his life’s work is to break down the barriers surrounding addiction and to give hope to those who may have lost faith in themselves.

“There’s so many people in pain and poverty and feeling very lost in our society,” Green said. “This movie talks about how folks are finding very creative ways to push back against that.”

The film also features Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh; NFL Pro Bowler Darren Waller; Washington State Representative Lauren Davis; Community Outreach Volunteer Roz Pichardo; and Boston Police Officer Josh De La Rosa.