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"Get People Playing Music" To Make A Difference In Addiction Recovery
September is National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, an opportunity to raise awareness of this growing problem. As we consider all the personal and professional strife addiction can create, we also consider how music can help.
Unfortunately, people who make music experience increased challenges. Research supported by MusiCares and released on Aug. 30 revealed statistically that musicians "disproportionally struggle with mental health and substance abuse." Working directly as well as through our network of partners, our Addiction Recovery Program helps connect the music community with the help they need nationwide.
But challenges can rear their ugly heads at any time for the working musician. For many, the first — and most difficult — step is facing addiction.
In a recent interview, Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash talked about his own struggles with addiction. "It starts out for fun and then you use [drugs and alcohol] in between shows ... I'd really fall in hard when the tour was over and we were off the road. I wouldn't know what to do with myself," he says. "Eventually it catches up with you … I was fortunate. I didn't die and I didn’t go to prison ... Because that's usually what happens with anybody who doesn’t come to terms with it."
For those who are able to come to terms with their addiction, music can also be a powerful healing presence. And once that power is harnessed, it can be shared.
Former guitarist for Korn, Wesley Geer founded his own performance organization to make a difference because, he said, "The inception of Rock to Recovery came from remembering my own time in rehab and how there was no music. I wanted to change that. And I did." While this further shows how musicians respond to the growing need as leaders, it also highlights the vital role music itself can play for individuals seeking healthier lives. "We get people playing music, which is far more transformative and engaging than just listening," said Geer. "Once I knew this model was working so well, I decided to grow it as a movement."
Recovery Month's role in our national agenda has reached into countless communities, working to make a difference. This is a time for individuals to practice awareness themselves about people they care for who might be at risk of suicide or suffer from substance-abuse.
From our experience in music's community we know it is important to reach out. We also know how music helps with recovery but as MusiCares volunteers and many others have demonstrated, the personal connection can make all the difference in the world. Keep this beat together with us and use this September to reflect on how you too can make a difference and whether now is the time to reach out to someone you care about in distress.