The Live Music Capital Of The World Now Has A Live Music Rehab

By David Konow 08/26/16

Recovery Unplugged uses the power of music in the recovery process to help patients explore their feelings. 

The Live Music Capital Of The World Now Has A Live Music Rehab

The city of Austin, Texas is widely known as the "Live Music Capital of the World" because of the abundance of live music venues tucked within the city's famous limits. Now, as of this month, Austin is home to a different kind of music-centered venue, Recovery Unplugged, a rehab facility that incorporates music into the 12-step process.

This is the second Recovery Unplugged to open in the U.S. The original facility resides in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The program was founded by Paul Pellinger, who felt something was missing from the rehab experience.

"Paul knows that recovery begins in the soul, not in the mind. And most of talk therapy deals with the mind," Dave Mariano, director of programming, told The Fix. "By adding music to talk therapy, we are able to develop much greater rapport and tap into that area of the soul and the spirit that sometimes goes untouched in treatment. He knew the power of music and how it could help everybody, especially addicts and alcoholics in early recovery."

One way that Recovery Unplugged uses music is to get patients to open up about their feelings. Music can trigger moods, says Mariano. “Everyone has a song that reminds them of childhood, a better time, a bad time," he continued. "It speaks in a way they can’t speak for themselves. Instead of the therapist jumping right into it, we found that by playing a song that’s related to that topic, the patient’s an open book before you know it.”

Another part of therapy at Recovery Unplugged is the live music room, where local musicians in recovery teach patients how to play. “In order to play music, you really have to listen, you have to be present, and it takes people’s minds off their problems,” Mariano says. “Playing keeps them present in the moment. There’s no fear, no thinking of the future, and no regret, because that’s in the past.”

When patients come to Recovery Unplugged, they’re given an mp3 player and a good set of headphones. “We want people to find the music that motivates them in their recovery,” says Mariano. “With the mp3, they can take a piece of recovery with them."

Mariano told The Fix, “We look at this as a movement. We want to expand across the country. We have a loving, caring, safe environment to get clean. We don’t want to beat our patients down, they've been beaten down enough. We want to encourage them, inspire them. And music combined with 12 step therapy helps us do that."

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.