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[ Opinion ] [ Personal Narratives ]

Music and Recovery

Music has a strong effect on people. When I first got into recovery there were certain types of music and songs I couldn’t listen to without having my disease kick in causing stinking thinking. The thinking would centre on my romanticism of drugs and alcohol which was far from the truth. I would forget what actually brought me to my knees and only think about the fun times I had when I first drank and my perception of alcohol/drugs that was based on movies, TV shows and books I read (e.g. – Prior to drinking I would read and watch Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas on a regular basis).

I’ve learned that music can bring on stinking thinking but it can also affect me in other ways. If I’m feeling down I have certain songs that I can listen to that will lift my spirits right up. Music can also be used in meditation. Some music can make me feel extremely sad as it evokes strong memories within.

There are a lot of great songs that are about addiction and recovery. Here are a few of my favourites:

1. One Day at A Time by Joe Walsh – Joe Walsh wrote this song when he entered recovery. It keeps things simple as the lyrics show:

Well you know, I was always the first to arrive at the party, ooh! And the last to leave the scene of the crime Well it started with a couple of beers, And it went I don’t know how many years, Like a runaway train headed toward the end of the line. Well I finally got around to admit that I might have a problem. But I thought it was just too damn big of a mountain to climb. Well I got down on my knees and said ‘Hey!’ (la la la) I just cant go on livin’ this way!’ (la la la) Guess I have to learn to live my life one day at a time.

2. I’m not a big fan of hip hop/rap music but I’ve grown to respect the music of Macklemore who has written some great songs on recovery. My favourite is titled, “Starting Over”. It details his personal struggle with relapse.

One, two, now Those 3 plus years, I was so proud of And I threw ”em all away for 2 Styrofoam cups The irony, everyone will think that he lied to me Made my sobriety so public, there’s no fuckin’ privacy If I don’t talk about it then I carry a date 08-10-08, but now it’s been changed in every When they put me in some boxes that say That I never was, it’s the false prophet that never came And will they think that everything that I written has all been fake

Oh well I’ll just take my slip to the grave Uh, what the fuck are my parents gonna say? The success story that got his life together and changed And you know what pain looks like When you tell your dad you relapsed and look him directly into his face The seep on your shoulder’s the seemingly heavy weight

I haven’t seen tears like this on my girl In a while the trust that I once built’s been betrayed But I’d rather live telling the truth than be judged for my mistakes Them falsely held up, give em props, loved and praised

I guess I gotta get this on the page Feeling sick and helpless, lost the compass where self is I know what I gotta do and I can’t help it One day at a time is what they tell us Now I gotta find a way to tell them God help ’em One day at a time is what they tell us Now I gotta find a way to tell them

We fell so hard Now we gotta get back what we lost, lost I felt you’d go But you were with me all along along And every kid that came up to me And said I was the music they listened to when they first got clean Now look at me, a couple days sober I’m fighting demons Back of that meeting on the east side Shaking tweakin’, hope that they don’t see it Hope that no one is looking That no one recognizes that failure under that hoodie Was posted in the back with my hands crossed shooken If they call on me I’m passing, if they talk to me I’m booking out that door But before I can make it somebody stops me and says are you Macklemore? Maybe this isn’t the place or time I just wanted to say that if it wasn’t for other side I wouldn’t have made it I just look down at the ground and say thank you

She tells me she has 9 months and that she’s so grateful Tears in her eyes, looking like she’s gonna cry fuck! I barely got 48 hours, treated like I’m some wise monk I wanna tell her I relapsed but I can’t I just shake her hand and tell her congrats Get back to my car and I think I’m tripping yea

‘Cause God wrote Otherside, that pen was in my hand I’m just a flawed man, man I fucked up up Like so many others I just never thought I would I never thought I would, didn’t pick up the book Doin’ it by myself, didn’t turn out that good

If I can be an example of getting sober Then I can be an example of starting over If I can be an example of getting sober Then I can be an example of starting over

3. A song that spoke a lot to me in early recovery (and still speaks to me) is Hate Me by Blue October. It opens with a phone message by one of the band mate’s mothers asking if he is okay as she hasn’t heard from him. Here’s some of those lyrics.

I’m sober now for three whole months, It’s one accomplishment that you helped me with The one thing that always tore us apart Is the one thing I won’t touch again In a sick way I want to thank you For holding my head up late at night While I was busy waging wars on myself, You were trying to stop the fight You never doubted my warped opinions On things like suicidal hate You made me compliment myself When it was way too hard to take

So I’ll drive so fucking far away That I never cross your mind And do whatever it takes in your heart To leave me behind Hate me today Hate me tomorrow Hate me for all the things I didn’t do for you Hate me in ways Yeah, ways hard to swallow Hate me so you can finally see what’s good for you

These are just a few of my favourite songs having to do recovery but there are a lot more.