‘Rock To Recovery’ Concert Returns This September

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a full year since we discussed the charity-driven Rock To Recovery concert. Now the event is coming back for a third time and with a bigger lineup than ever before. Music icons like Moby and the metal group Steel Panther will be part of this September’s concert, which is donating all ticket funds to treatment services for people in need.


September 15th is the official date of Rock To Recovery III. The benefit show will take place (as it had years before) at the historic Fonda Theatre in Hollywood and include both live music and celebrity speakers. Academy Award-winning filmmaker Bryan Fogel will be handling 2018 MC duties, with Steel Panther taking headliner status and Moby listed as the night’s big honoree.


Additionally, musician Tommu Vext from the band Bad Wolves will be recognized for his recovery advocacy and there are several exciting sets planned from some surprise musical guests. Wes Geer deserves the big credit for this year’s event (as he has in years’ past). The former Korn guitarist is also the founder of Rock To Recovery and recently spoke to TheFix.com about its ongoing mission.


“By having an event where we can all share not only our darkness, but our strength and solution, and celebrate through live music and dancing and even mosh pits, is quite a healing form of expression,” he explained. “I heard recently that the opposite of addiction is connection. For all the people this event supports, these are all issues of feeling lost and disconnected and not having a place in the world.”


Geer went on to emphasize that this show isn’t just for people who have completed treatment, it is also for those who are pushing through it and looking for inspiration. He added that half of the concert’s attendees will be people who are still in a recovery program.


“Imagine being in treatment and getting to experience a sober concert with known musicians, many of whom are also in recovery,” Geer added. “I go back to what my mindset was when I was newly in recovery, which is once you get sober life is over and boring. These concerts prove that mindset wrong. When you come see such an elaborate event supported by so many amazing humans, that is 100% sober and 100% rad, it is absolutely magical.”


For anyone else interested in this important event, tickets are still available. We certainly recommend keeping the date open on the calendar and “rocking out” with some true musical heroes.


‘Music Heals’ Radio Show Highlights Celebrity Sobriety

We love to hear about the recovery message making its way onto new formats. And up in Seattle Washington, stories of hope and survival have become popular on drivetime radio. Local station KEXP recently launched a new auditory series called “Music Heals,” which brings on famous musicians who have fought and won their addiction battles.


Since going live, “Music Heals” has already hosted the likes of Macklemore, Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament and guitarist Peter Buck from R.E.M. All of these successful artists spoke very openly about their past struggles and the joys of being clean.


“I hate that word ‘sober.’ Sober as a judge,” Buck told “Heals” host Kevin Cole in the studio. “I’d rather call it focused. Ultimately, I decided that I was in a place in my life where I needed to focus on the things that were really important. I kind of looked around and decided. ‘Well, what is important in my life?’ And alcohol and drugs or whatever weren’t on the list. It’s family, friends, music. That’s it.”


Macklemore (who happens to have Seattle roots) has already become well known for his recovery advocacy. He previously partnered with President Barack Obama to bring awareness to the opioid epidemic, back when it first began to receive national attention.


“I never had moderation.” Macklemore explained during his stint on the show. “I couldn’t get enough, every time that I drank or used drugs. It wasn’t until I finally went to rehab, that I got the tools and opened up to a world of recovery that I didn’t know existed.”


Each celebrity guest then delves into the process that brought them to sobriety. For Macklemore, it was 12-step meetings and a strong sense of faith. “Music Heals” host Kevin Cole also speaks openly about the addiction struggles he had during his young life. Episodes often include his real life accounts of nearly overdosing on cocaine and heroin.


As Cole explained to his listeners, recovery can be a positive experience and one that is much more common than people think.


“It wasn’t always easy, but it wasn’t always hard either,” Cole recently said. “I learned to take care of my body and mind, to recognize I had so much to live for, to see the good in everyone, including myself, to ask for help, and to let love be my drug of choice.”


Channeling Pain Into Music

Over the years, we’ve shared numerous ways that families across the country have honored loved ones who have succumbed to addiction. And one recent story caught our attention, as well as the writers from USA Today. In an article that is now going viral, the famed newspaper site profiled Dan and Cindy Blom; two parents who have channeled the loss of their son into a powerful and inspiring charity.


In a unique twist, the Blom family is using music to help others battling dependencies. Their organization, titled E.B. Rooster Guitars, sells custom instruments and donates profits to recovery facilities across the country. It was built to honor their son Erik, who died of a heroin overdose back in 2014.


Raised in a happy family based in Tennessee, Erik was (by all accounts) not the type of child people would expect to get hooked on heavy drugs. His parents discussed Erik’s passion for art, his creativity and the shock they felt when he began going down a dark path.


“Erik was simultaneously grateful and hopeless,” Erik’s father Dan told the site. “He used heroin for the first time one week before his 26th birthday. He told me that when he used that day, he felt no pain for the first time since he could remember. He would go on to chase that feeling for three years. He never found it again. Instead, he found an addiction that brought him to homelessness, got him work as a confidential informant, landed him in jail, lost him friends and, at times, his family, caused unthinkable trauma and ultimately death.”


Throughout his battles, Erik did find solace in music; which was part of the reason his parents launched E.B. Rooster. After dealing with the excruciating pain of his death, Dan and Cindy took action to help the families of others dealing with these types of issues.


His mom became a Certified Professional Recovery Coach, working with local facilities throughout Tennessee. And his dad, who already had a musical background, laid the groundwork for E.B. Rooster. Their custom guitars are sold in shops throughout the state and online across the country.


All products are dedicated to Erik’s memory and 10 percent of proceeds from every guitar sold goes to support recovery. Other E.B. merchandise, such as shirts, takes 100 percent of the profits and applies it to sober facilities.


“We want to help others and their families the way our friends helped us care for our son,” Cindy added. “We hope to remove the stigma so people who are battling (addiction) illnesses that are trying to kill them will not have to fight the stigma, too.”


Addiction Becomes Prime Topic Among Hip-Hop Stars

Hip-hop music has become famous for its brutal honesty and its ability to tackle difficult topics that genres like pop veer away from. That’s why we actually weren’t that surprised to hear that addiction has become a prime topic among rap lyricists in the music biz. Rising artists like Vic Mensa, Logic and Draper have made it an ongoing theme in some of their most enduring songs.


The Los Angeles Times offered an insightful piece on the topic this week, showcasing the young talent and their fearlessness when it comes to exposing their dependencies. Mensa was profiled for the piece and described some of the inspirations behind his hit track, “Wings.”


Sample lyrics include…


In the cyclone of my own addiction. The voices in my head keep talking… / ‘You’ll never be good enough…you never was / …You hurt everyone around you, you’re impossible to love / …I wish you were never born, we would all be better for it / …You’re still a drug addict, you’re nothing without your medicine / Go and run to your sedative, you can’t run forever, Vic.


You can listen to the full track below (which also features Pharrell Williams and Saul Williams).


Logic, who was recently featured on the Grammys broadcast, preached recovery on several of his songs. In fact, the title of one is “1-800-273-8255;” which is literally a support hotline for help.  The L.A. Times reports that one single alone shot lifeline calls up between 30 and 40 percent.


On the flip side, certain artists have been criticized for potentially glamorizing drugs and alcohol in their lyrics. Draper, for example, raps about how narcotics like cocaine have helped him “numb his pain,” which some believe could be a dangerous influence on young listeners.


In “Better Off Dying,” he raps…


Cocaine lined up, secrets that I’m hiding / …You don’t wanna cry now, better off dying. Even if I try hard, I ain’t gonna make it.


Mensa (who was interviewed for the piece) counters that sentiment. In his opinion, hip-hop is merely reflecting the experiences that he and his peers are facing in the modern world. “”It was big for me to recognize that drugs are a symptom of an underlying issue,” he explained. “You see it in hip-hop; you see it in punk. These kids come from nothing. Young black men experience a lot of trauma. They’ve lost people, seen violence, been humiliated by society. So they turn to alcohol, molly, lean.”


To his credit, Vic is very open about his two years of sobriety and is using his social media clout to speak out to fans about getting clean. He is also doing his part to influence his peers about the power their microphones wield when it comes to addiction awareness.


“There are so many ways for people who are suffering to seek treatment,” he added. “Any way to remove the stigma helps, and that can include popular culture and artists who resonate across their communities. These songs could be game changers.”


Eminem Addresses Addiction And Recovery On New Album

Love him or hate him, Eminem has always been one to speak the honest truth. Whether it’s about his difficult upbringing, his problems in the music business or (most recently) his battle with addiction, the iconic rapper isn’t afraid to shy away from painful topics. His latest album, Revivaltackles drugs head-on with a dark set of lyrics addressing his near fatal overdose.


Revival hit record stores this month and it’s the explicit track “Arose” that’s gaining attention within the recovery community. Eminem (born Marshall Mathers) creates a vivid scenario of blacking out after using methadone. He soon finds himself in a hospital bed and drifting away from his body after attempts to resuscitate him are unsuccessful.


“They’re unplugging me, and it’s your birthday. Jade, I’m missing your birthday,” he raps in the song. “Baby girl, I’m sorry/I fucking hate when you hurt, hey Nurses lean over the bed, pulling tubes out. Then the sheet over my head, shut the room down.”


Not surprisingly, “Arose” has brought up many questions during Eminem’s recent publicity tour. Honest as ever, the rapper admits that it’s based on his real experiences; particularly a night in 2007 when he was rushed to the E.R.


Speaking candidly about the O.D., Eminem told Rolling Stone, “My whole month of December leading up to [the overdose], I don’t remember sh*t. All I remember was hitting the bathroom floor and waking up in the hospital. The doctors told me I’d done the equivalent of four bags of heroin. They said I was about two hours from dying.”


But as the “Arose” lyrics (and title) clearly illustrate, that night was also a major turning point in his life. Eminem went on tell RS that he made a choice from that hospital bed. A choice to live and get clean. He brought up his daughter Hallie as a key inspiration and went on to openly discuss his new recovery regimen.


Eminem revealed that he meets with a rehab counselor once a week and uses jogging as a new outlet to help keep him focused. He also said that legendary singer Elton John is one of his unofficial sponsors and plays a huge part in his sobriety.


And to his fans, Eminem made sure that his “Arose” single does conclude with a happy ending. After the darkness of the OD, he finishes the track with these lyrics, “I’m tryna rewind time like a tape, find an escape. Make a beeline, try and awake from this dream, I need to re-find my inner strength to remind me. Even if a steep climb I must take to rewrite a mistake. I’m rewinding the tape.”


Rockstars Create Watches To Fight Addiction

Who doesn’t love a gorgeous designer watch? Now imagine purchasing one and having a portion of your dollars used to help people battling addictions. It’s definitely a win/win in our book and made even more special by the fact that several notable music stars are getting behind the movement.


The Rock LTD Collection is a series of high-end timepieces designed by the likes of Elton John, Dave Grohl and Iggy Pop. It is also put out in conjunction with MusiCares, a charitable entertainment organization which we’ve talked about many times in our blogs.


Each signature watch should be on shelves in time for the holidays and, though pricey, exemplify the luxury and the style of their famous designers. 30 unique pieces will be sold in total, costing around $1,200 to $1,800 each. One very special piece will include elements from late Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell, who himself battled drug and alcohol addictions.


Cornell’s watch features portions of his famous guitar strap and will only be available via auction at a special New York MusiCares event (with all proceeds going to their addiction charity). Chris’ widow, Vicky, told Rolling Stone that she was especially proud to make the donation and is making recovery education a major goal for their family.


“Addiction is a disease, and we lose far too many loved ones to the illness each day,” she told the online site. “MusiCares is a crucial organization and the MusiCares MAP Fund 100 percent supports the music community in its fight to protect those battling this affliction.”


Nixon, the parent company behind Rock LTD, echoed Vicky’s statement and revealed that they are especially proud to be part of this project.


“This is what Chris would want and we are happy to get behind it,” CEO Chad DiNenna told Rolling Stone.


As an example of Nixon’s handiwork, below are few of the other custom watch designs. Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash built a sharp, black timepiece with a few extra spikes to emphasize the “rock star” lifestyle.


And below that, is the design from Metallica frontman James Hetfield. You can see some metal flourishes in this one, which definitely symbolize his hard rock edge.


As we mentioned before, the full Rock LTD Collection arrives in December. But that doesn’t have to stop anyone from touring the official Nixon website and picking out a few designs that may work for the stockings.


This is definitely a fantastic initiative and we are proud to share this early Christmas list with our readers. And remember, if $1,000 and up is too steep for your pocketbook that is completely understandable. But when it comes to holiday giving, perhaps a smaller donations to orgs like MusiCares can help.


Music Artists Unite To Fight Addiction

If you’ve been following our blog then you’re probably aware of MusiCares, a unique charity created by the recording industry to help give back. This month, they are turning their focus to addiction and the drug and alcohol issues that have plagued artists for decades. Calling out tragic deaths like PrinceAmy Winehouse and more recently, Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell, the org is uniting well known names to help open dialogues with their peers.


In a recent Forbes article, notable MusiCares reps DJ Steve AokiTravis Barker and Anthony Green spoke out about why this message needs to be amplified.


“What can the industry do to help musicians struggling with addiction?” Aoki explained. “I learned it’s a dialog and conversation about addiction and all the incessant drug and alcohol consumption in our world. Being so close to so many of these artists, I’ve hear them talk about sobriety and dealing with it and how it’s an ongoing struggle. That conversation needs to be had. This conversation doesn’t have to be this sit-down, lecturing spiel, because I think that’s why people avoid that, they don’t want to be lectured. I think a lot of the time it’s an issue of shame. But that conversation needs to be had even more, so the dialog is the key to finally pulling the skeletons out of the closet, dealing with the issues.”


Former Blink 182 drummer, Barker, echoed that statement, opening up about his own personal struggles.


“Sobriety saved my life,” he added. “My only my regret is it didn’t happen sooner. It was sad that it took a plane crash and almost dying to finally sober up. My second chance at life and my kids was enough to never touch drugs again. Being present and sober is something I wouldn’t trade for anything. Music is my drug.”


One very public way that these artists are helping to spread the word is with a special Hollywood Bowl concert on October 27. It will be held specifically to honor the memory of Bennington, highlighting the importance of seeking out help for addiction and depression. As we previously mentioned, Bennington took his own life earlier in the summer after continued battles with drug and alcohol abuse.


Green also chimed in on this very important issue, explaining tactics his bandmates initiate to help encourage positive thoughts.


“In music and touring, the isolation and loneliness is a big thing,” he said. “Everybody from our tour manager to our working manager, we’re all very close. And every day we do this thing as a group on tour, and this kind of started out from the therapy that I learned when I first got sober, we do a group check in. Everybody says their name and then you say what’s going on with you that day, just how you are.”


We were definitely impressed with the movement these artists are pushing forward. And if you have the time and available funds, the Chester Bennington tribute could be a great way to show support.


New Sublime Documentary Offers A Bitter Portrait Of Addiction

For generations, addiction has wreaked havoc for celebrities in the entertainment industry. In the music world, in particular, it has claimed the lives of countless artists; many before their prime. One major of example of this is the tragic story of Sublime and the fatal overdose that took the life of their frontman Bradley Nowell. What the public may not know about that particular group, is how much further these dependencies affected the members and their families. Now, that is all getting chronicled in a highly-anticipated new documentary called The Long Way Back.


Planned for release on the 21st anniversary the group’s landmark Sublime album, the film profiles Nowell’s untimely demise (due to heroin abuse) and the addictions that continued to plague his best friend and son. It is certainly a gritty and moving piece, but one that does aim to inspire in its final chapter.


Nowell’s best friend Todd “Z-Man” Zalkins is one of the doc’s main focal points, with a profile of his rapid decline into heroin abuse following Bradley’s death. It is an interesting portrait and one we have encountered frequently in the recovery world.


Often times an addiction-related death of a close friend or family member may create the urge to use even more. Rather than getting “scared straight,” Zalkins and many like him find themselves turning to substances to numb their pain.


“It was sex, drugs and rock and roll,” he explained in the film trailer. “Then it was drugs and rock and roll. Then it was just drugs. When Brad died, I thought that would have been a wake-up call. It was the exact opposite. We just wanted to stuff ourselves with whatever fuckin’ substances we could to numb the pain and act like we’re still having fun.”


Another tearful moment in the clip highlights Nowell’s now 22-year-old son Jakob (who was literally a baby when his father died).  He too succumbed to drugs and alcohol, using them in a way to “connect” with his dad.


“There was this subconscious desire to kind of understand what my dad’s experiences were,” Jakob says in a clip. “Why would he smoke this? Why would he snort that? Why would he drink this? Why would he pop that.”


But, the movie does promise a light at the end of this dark tunnel. During the final moments of the trailer, it is revealed that Z-Man and Jakob find their way to recovery and use each other for support.


There is no doubt that The Long Way Back promises to be an emotional ride, but it’s one that we’re sure is worth taking; whether you were a fan of the band or not.


The movie premieres next month on iTunes and Amazon and can be seen in snippets via the official trailer below.



Rock To Recovery Concert Returns This Month

They say that music is a universal healer and, by the looks of things, it has certainly helped make progress in the recovery field. Particularly hard rock! This month marks the second annual Rock To Recovery concert, which uses some of metal’s biggest stars to spread the word about overcoming addictions.


Organized by Korn guitarist (and recovery advocate) Wes Geer, this year’s event promises a stellar lineup of stars. Slipknot’s Corey Taylor will be one of 2017’s honorees and members of bands like Guns N’ Roses, Stone Temple Pilots and Apolcalyptica will be on hand to jam and support the cause.


Speaking with TheFix.com, Geer explained the message and the mission behind this year’s event.


“There’s a big lie that your head tells you when you’re in recovery, whether you’re a wounded vet or suffering from depression, anxiety, or an eating disorder,” he explained to the site. “You feel hopeless and feel like life is never going to be fun again. We want people to come out and say, ‘I’m in recovery and I didn’t think I could feel that good again, but I just had an amazing time.’”


Expect plenty of tributes too, to several of the music stars who left us too soon and took a stand against addiction. Former Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington, for example, played a big role in the first Rock to Recovery concert. Following his untimely suicide, you can bet there will be plenty of power chords being played in his memory that night.


Speaking of the prior show, Geer explained that it turned out to be a huge success and he anticipates continuing this rock tradition for many years to come.


“I’ve played some amazing shows,” he added. “But my phone never blew up like it did after last year’s event. I knew we’d done something really good, but people were tripping out to the point where I couldn’t believe how much they were going on and on about it. That show was ours. It belonged to the recovery community.”


For the record, Rock to Recovery is making generous donations to local treatment organizations across Los Angeles and they are also accepting funds on their site. Generous supporters of the cause include Fender Guitars, Roland Amps and Rode Microphones.


The big event happens September 16 at the Fonda Theater in Hollywood. You can find plenty of info on the official Rock to Recovery website and even get a taste of the fun in the YouTube trailer below.



Rock on and support the cause!


Coachella Festival’s Sordid History With Addiction

There is no denying that the word “Coachella” is on the minds of a lot of SoCal music fans this weekend. The annual desert concert brings in thousands over its two weekends and, believe it or not, hit its 19th anniversary this month. But throughout that time (and particularly in more recent years), this “Arts and Music Festival” has led to overdoses, arrests and even deaths due to drug and alcohol abuse. For those who want to attend, more power to you…But keep in mind that Coachella comes with several addictive dangers.


One of the more prominent headlines happened back in 2014, when attendee Kimchi Truong collapsed and died in the festival’s taxi area. Truong was just 24-years-old and had been a student at a Cal State school. Though Coachella organizers don’t deserve the bulk of the blame for Truong’s actions, there is no denying that specific “rave tents” promoted the joy of her extra-sensory experiences. In prior years as well, it had been very easy to bring narcotics into the festival and even sell illegal drugs to fellow concertgoers.


To their credit, the festival’s parent organization, Goldenvoice, did send paramedics to help Truong after her collapse and released a statement to the press.


“Last weekend, a festival attendee suffered an apparent drug overdose,” they wrote. “The individual was seen by on-site medical staff and later transferred to Desert Regional Medical Center. We are saddened to learn the individual has died.”



That wasn’t the first time that an overdose death occurred at the festival, but it was certainly one of the more high-profile ones. Another Coachella drug fatality occurred in 2008 and in 2015 there were no less than 56 narcotics arrests on the concert’s grounds. Last year saw several Coachella addiction stories too, with a 38 percent increase in alcohol and drug-related arrests. There was also another death, after an attendee was struck and killed by an intoxicated driver.


Worst of all, there are literally dozens of web sites and online articles telling attendees what the best drugs are to take for corresponding musical acts. This, of course, is all done off the grid as Coachella’s organizers “officially” take a  no-substances stance on their website (easier said than done).


Concerts like this are full of negative temptations and though you may legitimately want to go to enjoy the music, chances are you’ll be exposed to drugs and alcohol. Our recommendation has always been to avoid these types of festivals if you’re newly sober or currently battling an addiction. The “party” ambiance, the psychedelic tents and the inebriated concertgoers could easily set you down a bad path. Thanks to modern tech like streaming, you may be better off enjoying the music from a safe location and not amidst the temptations.


One of our goals has always been to get people to a good place with their recovery. Giving them the confidence to be around wild concerts and never have the urge to use. Before considering any event like this, we encourage you to get in touch and let us offer you a sobering perspective. 866-986-2486



The Tragic Celebrity Addiction Deaths Of 2016

There is no doubt that 2016 has been a brutal year for untimely celebrity deaths. From icons like David Bowie, to rising stars like Anton Yelchin, to just this week, the loss of Carrie Fisher (who, herself battled addiction), people have been publicly mourning a wide array of stars who have left us too soon. Most tragic of all is, a handful of these famous names lost their lives because of a battle with addiction. For this blog, we thought it would be important to honor them and (sadly) use them as examples of how deadly substance abuse can be.


It doesn’t matter if you’re rich. It doesn’t matter if you have an entourage around you. The truth is, overdoses can strike anyone and recovery is just as important for a mega-selling music star as it is for a working class parent from the neighborhood.  Take these lessons and share them with the ones you love…



Let’s start off with one of the biggest selling music artists of all time. Prince was adored by millions and, unbeknownst to his fans, had been battling a deadly opioid addiction. Tragically on April 21, he lost that battle and cut his life short at the age of 57. Medical examiners listed his cause of death as a fentanyl overdose and later, photos emerged of Prince making multiple trips to Walgreens to purchase the prescription drug. There was also an incident just days before his death where he reportedly had a near overdose after playing a show. Though this is only speculation, we have a feeling that several people in his entourage were aware of the problem. And though it may have been difficult to confront the star, staging an intervention may have potentially saved his life.


Valerie Fairman

Another terribly tragic case concerns former MTV 16 and Pregnant headliner Valerie Fairman. Just 23 years old, this vivacious reality star was found unconscious on December 21 and had struggled with substance abuse for the past five years. Final toxicology reports are still pending, but outlets like Us Magazine are reporting that drugs were to blame. This particular incident is even more sad since Valerie was a young mother and had a full life ahead of her. She also was reportedly on a recovery path, highlighting the very real danger of relapses.


Joanie ‘Chyna’ Laurer

Legendary female wrestler Joanie “Chyna” Laurer lost her battle with addiction back in April. And this December, her cause of death was officially confirmed. According to reports, Laurer accidentally overdosed on alcohol and oxycodone (succumbing to a prescription-related overdose). Friends claimed Chyna had been suffering from depression and some career setbacks in her final months. This again is why we continue to stress the importance of recovery programs. Facilities like ours are available 24 hours a day, to provide emotional support and detoxing treatments. It’s a true shame that no one in Chyna’s immediate circle recognized the problem and/or encouraged her to get help.


George Michael

This is pure speculation, but rumors are already arising about the tragic premature death of singer George Michael and how addiction played a role. Whether it did or not, we know that George publicly battled many substance abuse demons. Dying on Christmas Day alone, also signals a potential sign of depression or “self-medicating.” Our prayers are certainly with his family at this time and we are certainly hoping that drugs weren’t the culprit.


We cannot stress enough how important it is to get help if you or a loved one is struggling with addiction. It can happen to a world-famous celebrity. It can happen to your best friend. Addiction knows no bounds and should not be fought alone. We highly encourage reaching out (866-986-2486) if a problem is beginning to emerge.



Spotlight On Marlee Simon And Music Therapy

We’ve discussed the importance of music therapy before, but we’ve never quite delved in to the amazing talent our own Marlee Simon brings to the table. Fans of our Spotlight Series know that we love taking time to highlight the talented team behind Valley Recovery Center. And Marlee is one of our brightest stars. Not only is she an extremely accomplished musician (with a degree from the esteemed Berklee College of Music in Boston), Marlee also holds an Associate’s Degree in Psychology from College of the Canyons. Her unique skill set allows for counseling and group leadership, along with guitar, vocals and upbeat singalongs. How many therapy sessions can you say that about?


Marlee’s background is remarkable, having worked with special needs children, the elderly (particularly those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease) and people battling terminal illnesses. As she puts it, “music is a healing force,” which we happen to completely agree with. Marlee has used her special talents to heal, validate, empower, inspire, connect and motivate people to be their best selves. You can imagine how well that philosophy works in recovery, where self-esteem and emotional healing are crucial.


Marlee has also found music to be an effective coping mechanism, especially for people who are going with withdrawals. Her VRC sessions incorporate everything from songwriting, to lyric analysis, to instrumental improvisation and even meditation. And you certainly don’t have to be a maestro to participate in one of Marlee’s sessions. She’s more than happy to work with beginners, teaching them how to channel their energies into the instrument of their choice. Practice and focus are key healing tools in the recovery process, so learning something like guitar or piano can be extremely therapeutic.


On our site, Marlee shared a few words about the importance of her programs. “Music is a universal language that can be purposefully used to motivate, connect, heal, and inspire people,” she explained. “I am passionate about helping people to discover and actualize their fullest potential. It is my passion and purpose in life to provide opportunities for people to explore their sense of self and to enhance their quality of life through music.”


One of the websites that Marlee regularly participates in is MusicTherapy.org. Pay it a visit and you’ll see the many ways that songs can positively impact people who are struggling. In fact there is an entire research section, which breaks down the scientific ways that music has healed people in recovery. For one, it has been proven to help people open up about their emotions. It’s a common fact that many people do not enter a recovery program willingly. But, a program like this is very non-threatening and upbeat; encouraging patients to lower their guard and appreciate the experience. Music Therapy also helps relieve anxiety, cope with trauma and enhance self-awareness. Songwriting, in particular, is a fantastic outlet for self expression and creativity.


We highly encourage anyone interested to reach out to us about our Music Therapy recovery programs. They have done wonders for our patients and, with a program leader like Marlee at the helm, can build confidence, positivity and a strong desire to stay sober. 



Addiction Article Recap: Week Of Oct 31

This is certainly an eventful seven days in the news cycle. Not only does it include the festive Halloween holiday, it also marks the first week of November. As per usual, our job is to zero in on the addiction and recovery stories making waves (particularly the ones that don’t always get the attention that they deserve). This time out, we’ve identified three important pieces that touch upon celebrity, sobriety and, interestingly enough, a bit of comedy.


Enjoy these quick news bites and, as always, please give us a shout out at valleyrecoverycenter@gmail.com if you happen to run across anything we’ve missed!


Headline #1: Macklemore Video Tackles Addiction

We’ve been singing the praises of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis for quite some time now. The innovative hip-hop star has been part of our Music Monday series and received blog coverage for his work with President Obama. This week, he’s taken his recovery advocacy one step further by releasing a music video directly tackling the subject of addiction. His “Drug Dealer” clip runs just three and a half minutes, but packs a very powerful punch. In it, the rapper is seen lying a mattress littered with drugs. Though difficult to watch, it offers a gritty portrait of a man battling opioid dependency and going through a wide range of emotions. His lyrics are just as powerful, drawing a clear portrait of how deadly this epidemic actually is. Singer Ariana Deboo features into the clip as well, drowning in a sea of red and white pills. If you haven’t seen “Drug Dealer,” we definitely think it’s worth a watch. Just take some deep breaths before clicking “Play.”


Headline #2: Sober Tailgating

With football season in full effect, the temptations are stronger than ever to “down beers” and watch the games. Well, in Louisiana one group is hoping to change that perception with sober tailgating. Recovery First Tailgaters is the brainchild of Dwayne Beason, a die-hard pigskin fan, who is also former alcoholic. Speaking with TheFix.com, he described his passion for this project and how it came to be.  “I grew up in South Louisiana and my grandfather was a huge LSU fan. He had a Winnebago and we’d get up early and drive to all the home games. We’d pack up the motor home, bring stuff to cook, and nobody was in recovery then so there was a lot of alcohol.” Beason went on to add that the alcohol took him to very dark places. “I got kicked out of my hometown. I was drinking, drugging, smuggling and dealing crack cocaine. I was always a smidge away from getting caught.” So, he set up sober tailgating tents at local games and soon extended the initiative to other regions. His stations include water, healthy food and supportive staff members who encourage sobriety. A major touchdown for recovery advocates everywhere.


Headline #3: John Oliver’s Harsh Opioid Stance

And on somewhat of a lighter note, we were very amused with comedian John Oliver’s recent rant on the nation’s opioid epidemic and the governmental flaws that are continuing to further it. Though he certainly earns his laughs with this piece, the story is very serious and is now going viral. We applaud John for bringing this topic to his popular Last Week Tonight show and encourage our fans to watch the entire segment below.


Sober SoCal Weekend: Oct 21-23

TGIF! Another Friday is upon us, which means it’s time to start planning some Sober SoCal Weekend activities. This time out, we’ve gathered some fun, active fall ideas that do not involve drugs or alcohol. Whether you’re into extreme rock climbing, vinyl jams, works of art or Halloween escape rooms, we’re confident you’ll find at least one outing on this list to get excited about. So break out your day planner, pencil in these ideas and go enjoy your sobriety!


And as always, if you have your October Sober SoCal ideas to share, shoot us an email at valleyrecoverycenter@gmail.com. We’ll make sure that they get on the next list.


Enigma Escape Rooms

Something for people with a quizzical mind, Hollywood’s Enigma Escape Room is a great activity for Halloween mystery fans. Guests can choose from five different scenarios, including ancient temples, 1940’s crime scenes and and even a spooky seance. What puts this brand above the rest is their attention to detail. Enigma’s rooms incorporate technology, innovative storylines and some great gadgetry. They’re also very challenging, mixing fun with a close attention to detail (a nice exercise for the sober mind). To find about their pricing and schedules, click here.


Art Night Pasadena

Followers of our Sober SoCal series know that we are big fans of artistic endeavors and this Friday, Pasadena is hosting a special Art Night Out. Throughout the evening, special shuttle buses will take guests across the city to visit famed galleries like the Pasadena Museum of California Art and the Norton Simon Museum. Aficionados will also get to be one of the first patrons to view Norton Simon’s new Pablo Picasso exhibition. As we mentioned above, alcohol will not be present…But delicious food trucks will! Including the tasty Pie n’ Burger and Coolhaus ice cream. Click here to learn more about this exciting event.


Crate Diggers L.A.

We know what you’re thinking, but (believe it or not) Crate Diggers L.A. is actually not a Halloween-themed event. It is, in fact, an amazing Saturday morning excursion for lovers of vinyl music. Over 30 vendors will be lining up across Downtown’s Lot 613, selling rare records from decades’ past. This one promises to have tons of hidden gems and even caters to the DJ crowd, with live turntables throughout the afternoon. The event runs from the morning until 6pm and should be a great opportunity for you to build your sober soundtrack. For details on Crate Diggers, click here.


Rock N’ Rope Adventures

And last but not least, a great way to stay clean and burn calories. Sunday morning’s Rock n’ Rope Adventure encourages healthy living (and bicep building), with a sturdy rock climb up one of the tallest peaks in Malibu Creek State Park. Guides will be onhand from 9am on, servicing extreme athletes of all levels. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced wall scaler, this is a great way to work out and bond with friends who embrace an active lifestyle. For details on the climb, click here.




Addiction Article Recap: Week Of Oct 17

It certainly has been an interesting week for addiction headlines. Stories relating to drugs, alcohol and recovery tend to get buried amid the political scandals, but we feel they’re more important than ever. That’s why we continue to gather important news items for our Addiction Article Recap. This week centers around some disconcerning California stats, a technological approach to recovery and music that spreads the message of sobriety.


Dive in to these latest headlines and remember, if you have your own article to share; send it our way via email.


Headline #1: California Leads The Country In Opioid Deaths

Definitely not a statistic to be proud of. This week, the Senate Committee on Finance revealed that California had more opioid-related deaths than any other state in the nation. Their report also claims that the number of opioid overdoses has quadrupled within the past 17 years. Translation: roughly 78 deaths each day! But we know what you’re thinking. What is happening in our home state? Well, the study claims that most of our 4,521 annual opioid fatalities occur in rural regions; particularly in the north. It also said that the reason for the deaths had to do with treatment availability. The Committee found that 91 percent of Californians in need of treatment were unable to access proper services. Their recommendation was for the state to receive better funding to allow more hospital beds and trained facilitators. We think they make a very good case and are hopeful that Congress answers the call.


Headline #2: Bioelectronics And Recovery

It’s not often you hear an addiction recovery story in the tech section of USA Today, but this one made the front page. Apparently, a new trend in our industry centers around bioelectronics. Researchers have claimed that small bioelectronic devices can help stimulate nerves and literally “shock” an addiction out of you. Obviously this sounds quite skeptical, as electroshock therapy proved to be a disastrous method for “curing” mental illness decades ago. This new technology, however, claims to be much gentler and more scientific. Used as implants, they supposedly tap into the vagus nerve; which is a calming agent in the brain. From there, researchers allege that they can “coax the brain” to stop wanting to use. The scientists point to success stories in the realm of depression and anxiety and even were able to get the FDA to take notice. But it is still very much in the startup phase, with companies feverishly working on developing the technology. This is one we’ll have to see to believe. In our opinion, recovery takes a lot more than the flick of a switch.


Headline #3: New Korn Sobriety Song

We already told you how the band Korn helped launch an amazing recovery initiative. Well now they’re continuing to spread the message of sobriety with their new song, “Take Me.” Written by frontman Jonathan Davis, it includes insightful lyrics that are told from the perspective of a drug itself. He said he was inspired by previous recovery songs, including Brad Paisley’s “Alcohol.” Regardless of your musical tastes, “Take Me” is certainly worth a listen and can be heard in its entirety below.


The Concert To Face Addiction

You’ve heard us talk about Music Therapy many times in our Valley Recovery Center blogs. The truth is, whether its soothing classical sounds or “get on your feet and dance” jams, music heals and is a fantastic recovery tool. Artists within that industry have also become beacons of sobriety, publicly standing down their demons and beating the trappings of drug and alcohol. Well now, PBS plans to echo that statement by broadcasting the Concert To Face Addiction on October 20.


First a little backstory on the musicians involved and how their individual stories tie to the cause.


Steven Tyler

Steven Tyler is world-renowned for his work as the lead singer of Aerosmith. He’s also an inspirational recovery advocate, who has influenced millions with his lyrics. Songs like “Amazing” clearly spell out the beauty of recovery and how letting go of addiction can help you “see the light.” Steven has participated in countless sobriety charities, filmed PSA’s and beaten heroin multiple times. That’s right, Tyler has been battling drug issues since the 1970’s and publicly relapsed more than once. BUT…that did not stop him from moving forward and continuing his journey. If anyone deserves to be a headliner at this Concert, it’s him.


Joe Walsh

Headliner number two is legendary guitarist Joe Walsh. Since the 1970’s, his music has inspired millions; both as a solo artist and as a virtuoso member of the Eagles. Joe too has publicly battled addiction and written inspirational songs that illustrate his journey. Though not quite as famous as “Amazing,” his “One Day At A Time” track is hauntingly beautiful and truly documents the recovery experience. He’s also got fantastic guitar chops and promises to bring a tough, hard rocking edge to lineup.


As far as recovery advocacy goes, Joe has also been incredibly vocal and supportive. “One Day” is a song that continues to be in his set list and, when giving interviews, he openly discusses changes that need to be made.


“You know at this point, I think there are more recovered people than there have ever been, regardless of what their problem was,” he previously told SoundSpike.com. “But the sad thing is, about seven times as many people died before getting sober. That’s how bad addiction is. Addiction is a very human condition, and it’s ruining lives and families. It’s rampant and ruining this country and it’s time to say that out loud, to be heard, and to begin the painful process to get the government and the insurance companies and our whole society to recognize it as a medical condition.”


Sheryl Crow

The concert’s other big headliner, songstress Sheryl Crow has earned nine Grammy Awards and sold over 50 million albums. She also was a self-admitted alcoholic during the early 1990’s. Right at the peak of her fame, Sheryl drank before every show; partially to get over her nervousness. She has gone on to praise the power of sobriety and recovery programs that still help her to this day. When discussing her issue back in 2008, she said, “I did a lot of drinking early on because it helped me cope with what was happening. But I couldn’t deal with it. I’m small and skinny and just a couple of shots would get me drunk. A couple more and I’d be all over the place. I had to knock it on the head. Now the greatest buzz is performing sober.”


Beyond those amazing talents, the Concert To Face Addiction will also feature The Fray, Jason Isbell and Jonathan Butler. As we mentioned before, it’s set to air on PBS October 20 in Los Angeles. You can click here, for the fill list of showtimes and station names. Make sure to tune in!



Sober SoCal Weekend: Rock To Recovery

Greetings Valley Recovery Center friends and welcome to another Sober SoCal Weekend blog. This time out, we’re doing things a little differently. Rather than profile a variety of Saturday/Sunday activities that do not involve drugs and alcohol, we’re profiling just one. Specifically, this Sunday’s first annual Rock To Recovery concert. If you can focus your energies on one major outing this weekend, do this. Not only will you be able to see amazing live music from the artists behind Korn, Sugar Ray and Jane’s Addiction, you’ll be supporting a cause that benefits people beating their addictions.


The Event

First, let’s get started on the actual concert. Set to take place at Hollywood’s Fonda Theatre this Sunday, Rock To Recovery kicks off at 7pm. Tickets run from $27.50 – $50.00, with proceeds going to the Rock To Recovery Foundation (which we discuss down below). If you arrive early, you can participate in the red carpet ceremony; which will highlight a variety of music and metal stars who have successfully beaten their addictions. You can expect other special celebrity guests as well, spreading a message of positivity and sobriety.


Once inside, we are pleased to share that there will be absolutely NO BARS and NO ALCOHOL. This is a 100% clean event, so you do not have to worry about any temptations (which is usually a common occurrence at rock concerts).


And what about the actual lineup? Expect to see all-star jams featuring Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath, Billy Idol guitarist Steve Stevens, Jane’s Addiction’s Chris Chaney and Franky Perez from Apocalyptica. Now that’s just the first “jam.” Jam #2 will feature Korn’s David Silveria, Nate Lawler from Death on Wednesday, Scott Ellis from She Wants Revenge and Kill Radio’s Brandon Jordan.



There will also be a special ceremony honoring Social Distortion guitarist Mike Ness and the work he’s done to help his fellow musicians through sobriety. The bottom line is, Rock To Recovery will be an absolute blast and a great opportunity to see talented musicians.


The Mission

Now, beyond this weekend’s Sober SoCal event is an amazing organization that we feel deserves a spotlight. Rock To Recovery exists 365 days a year and basically takes Music Therapy treatment to a whole new level. Founded by former Korn guitarist Wesley Greer in 2012, it actually gives people in recovery the opportunity to sit and play with their favorite artists. Along the way, they can hear real stories about musicians who have beaten addiction and turned their lives around.


Rock to Recovery also encourages aspiring musicians in recovery programs (whether professional or amateur) to form impromptu bands and write new songs. This can work as a release and allows patients to focus their energies on positive outlets, rather than using.


As their website describes,

“Music is a powerful tool, proven to help soothe the soul. For someone in recovery, learning to have clean and sober fun, feeling a part of, connecting to a group, and quieting the mind are keys to a successful new life. It’s time to feel good in all that we do. Rock to Recovery gives people, such as recovering addicts/alcoholics, a chance to have fun expressing themselves, working as a group, and experiencing the natural high only music can produce.”


We definitely believe in this cause. For more info on this weekend’s event (including ticket purchasing), click here.




Addiction Article Recap: Week of Sept 19

Happy Autumn from Valley Recovery Center! This week, we are welcoming a new season and lots of important headlines from the world of addiction. As temperatures cool, don’t be surprised to hear more stories about using. Studies have shown that as the year comes to a close, more people tend to “escape” through substance abuse and alcoholism. Less active weather and holiday loneliness are strong contributors. Expect more political addiction headlines as well, with the November 8 presidential election right around the corner.


On that note, we’ve got more Addiction Article Recaps to share, highlighting topics like music, heroin abuse and (you guessed it) politics. Read on and make sure to share your addiction/recovery stories with us by emailing valleyrecoverycenter@gmail.com.


Headline #1: Jay-Z’s ‘War On Drugs’

We love when big-name celebrities use their star power to speak out about addiction. This past week, iconic rapper Jay-Z brought the issue to the forefront with a four-minute music video titled “War On Drugs.” Aimed directly at law enforcement and government officials, Hova called their anti-addiction campaigns an “epic fail.” And after watching the clip, it’s hard not to agree with him. Using animated visuals, he narrates a list of statistics showing how some of Ronald Reagan’s 1980’s initiatives led nowhere. Examples include drug addiction NOT being a moral failing and too-harsh sentences handed down to addicted users. “Long after the crack era we continued our War on Drugs,” Jay-Z narraetes. “Judges’ hands were tied by tough-on-crime laws and they were forced to hand out mandatory life sentences for simple possession and low-level drug sales … Forty-five years later, it’s time we rethink our policies on the War on Drugs. The War on Drugs is an epic fail.” You can watch the full clip below.



Headline #2: Drug Use At Public Libraries

Another recent headline that caught our attention had to do with drug use at local public libraries. According to recent reports, heroin addicts have begun using those facilities as locations to shoot up and experience their “highs.” Things have gotten so bad, that in Virginia and Illinois, dead bodies are starting to be discovered in library restrooms. One reason for this is because libraries are free to the public and easily accessible to people off the street. A recent initiative has been proposed to fight this: Namely, providing librarians with Narcan, a substance proven to combat overdoses. While several public officials have debated that this “supports” heroin use, we disagree. Any precaution to save a life should be taken, in our opinion. Clearly these people need help and it should not reflect negatively on the organizations. As Josie Parker, a national library director, stated, “People need to know that this is happening everywhere and that public libraries haven’t done anything wrong to cause it to happen.”


Headline #3: ‘Mr. Robot’ Wins At Emmys

Last night’s Emmy Awards honored the best of the best in the television genre and we were happy to see Rami Malek take home Best Actor for his role in Mr. Robot. One of TV’s hottest new shows, Robot covers many topics…with addiction at the top of the list. Malek’s character is struggling with an opiate battle (ripped from today’s headlines) and his portrayal is both honest and brave. We are excited to see a show like this bring the opiate epidemic to the forefront and congratulate Rami on his big win!



Addiction Article Recap: Week Of Sept 12

These past few weeks, we’ve been getting some great responses to our Addiction Article Recap series. In our opinion, summarizing the week’s top addiction and recovery stories can be a helpful tool to educate people curious about our industry. We also work to keep things short, so you get a quick understanding of an important topic and then click the link therein if you want to explore it further. This time out, we’re profiling the story behind a scary viral photo. Ohio’s “Overdose Couple” are a stern reminder of how dangerous heroin can be and why addiction is a terrible habit for parents. Nocturnal Wonderland is also profiled, which proved to be one of most dangerous concert experiences in recent memory (thanks to illicit drugs). And finally, we’ve got an update about our former Celebrity Spotlight, Demi Lovato. She is doing great and actually getting into the recovery business!


Headline #1: Ohio’s “Overdose Couple”

Being a parent is such an important responsibility, which is why were horrified to hear the story about James Acord and Rhonda Pasek. This East Liverpool, Ohio couple were recently photographed passed out in their minivan after overdosing on heroin. To make matters worse, their four-year-old child is pictured in the back in his car seat, traumatized by the experience. The pics were shared on the city’s Facebook page; a grave reminder of how serious drug addictions can be. “We feel it necessary to show the other side of this horrible drug,” East Liverpool wrote on its page. “We feel we need to be a voice for the children caught up in this horrible mess. This child can’t speak for himself but we are hopeful his story can convince another user to think twice about injecting this poison while having a child in their custody.” James and Rhonda literally looked like two dead bodies, slumped over in the driver’s and passenger’s seats. Their son, whose face was blocked out for protection, sits strapped into his seat clearly unnerved by the situation. Thankfully, both Acord and Pasek were arrested (after being revived via Narcan) and the child was put in protective custody. Though it’s a grim scene, we believe East Liverpool made the right decision by publicizing the photo.


Headline #2: Arrests And Overdoses At Nocturnal Wonderland

As much as we love music, certain concerts seem to focus more on narcotic enhancements than the artists on the stage. That is a philosophy we do not agree with, but it hasn’t stopped San Bernardino’s Nocturnal Wonderland from pushing the boundaries of legal raves, with imagery and messaging about pure intoxication. To that effect, SBPD officers arrested 176 attendees of the festival this month, primarily for drug and alcohol offenses. Not only that, there were five hospitalizations; relating to overdoses and violent assaults fueled by substance abuse. Thankfully there were no fatalities, but it does clearly illustrate that anyone suffering from addiction should best steer clear from this franchise.


Headline #3 Demi Lovato Becomes Co-Owner Of Recovery Facility

Singer Demi Lovato definitely likes to practice what she preaches. After spending the past several years praising sobriety, the former Disney star decided to take things one step further by purchasing a stake in the rehab facility where she once received treatment. As of this week, Lovato is a co-owner of CAST Centers; which helps those struggling with drug and alcohol issues. Demi’s manager, Phil McIntyre, spoke to CBS about the new purchase and praised her work as a recovery advocate. “How many 24-year-olds own their own treatment center?” he said. “But then to leverage her position in pop music to do so much good is just incredible.” Job well done, Demi.




Celebrity Recovery Spotlight: Demi Lovato

If you’ve been following our Valley Recovery Center Spotlight Series, then you’re well aware of the local heroes, trailblazers and advocates leading our industry. But this week, we thought we’d shine the light on someone out of our inner circle. A world-renowned celebrity who has impacted millions of young people battling addiction through her music, her outspoken interviews and her charitable work. This week, we are highlighting the one-and-only Demi Lovato.


First, a little history on Demi. A former Disney Channel star and pop princess, she started with a squeaky clean pre-teen image, far removed from substances and alcohol. But after her family-friendly Sonny With a Chance series ended, Demi chose to go public about her very serious battle with drinking and drugs.


In 2011, at the age of 19, Lovato openly entered her first treatment program. This was a condition that she later revealed was kept hidden and existed for years. It all came to a head during a Jonas Brothers concert tour, where she allegedly attacked another dancer.  Speaking with Seventeen Magazine after the very public incident, Demi began her public campaign of recovery advocacy.


“I’m not going to lie,” she told the mag. “I was self-medicating. I was doing things like drinking and using [drugs], like a lot of teens do to numb their pain.”


But that wasn’t all. Demi began educating teens about the benefits of sobriety and not giving in to peer pressures. Proudly touting her new life, Lovato added,


“I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs, I don’t throw up after my meals, I don’t starve myself. There’s nothing that I do that I feel ashamed of. Personally, I think that sober is sexy. It’s cool. I think it’s way cooler to be above the influence than under the influence.”


Imagine that. An influential young celebrity sharing the news that “sober is sexy.” It was certainly not a trait a lot of her 20-something peers were touting. We found Demi’s words incredibly refreshing. She owned her mistakes and provided comfort for others who were dealing with the same pain.


From there, Demi moved into philanthropy. She became a spokesperson for the PACER anti-bullying campaign. (Fast Fact: Bullying has been known to be a catalyst for drug use and escapism). Lovato also publicly shared her struggles with mental illness and its impact on her urges to use. For that work, she was honored at the 2013 National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day hosted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in Washington.


And just last month, Demi brought her crusade to the stage at the Democratic National Convention. Speaking to an enormous crowd, she exclaimed, “”Like millions of Americans, I’m living with mental illness — but I’m lucky. I had the resources and support to get treatment. Unfortunately, too many Americans don’t get help, either because they fear the stigma or cannot afford treatment. Untreated mental illness can lead to devastating consequences, including suicide, substance abuse and long-term medical issues.”


Lovato noted that representatives from her treatment program are joining her on her current music tour and setting up concert kiosks for recovery support and information. Demi truly is a shining example of how recovering celebrities can use their clout for the greater good. We are proud to Spotlight her accomplishments and encourage everyone to follow her inspirational Twitter page for more uplifting words.


To learn more about recovery advocates in our community or to nominate someone for our Spotlight Series, please reach out at (866) 986-2486.