Music Is The Core Of Florida Rehab, Recovery Unplugged

By Victoria Kim 11/20/15

Recovery Unplugged is one of the newest partners of Gloucester, Massachusetts' innovative Angel Program.

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Music is the foundation for healing at Recovery Unplugged, a Fort Lauderdale rehab facility that uses music to inspire, heal, and allow for a deeper connection with an addict’s emotions.

“We engage our clients through music. We tap into their emotions when we see them visibly moved by a song,” said Richie Supa, Aerosmith collaborator and singer-songwriter, who is on staff at the facility. “We ask the client, ‘I saw you shaking your head during that song. Was it recalling a painful event?’”

Recovery Unplugged is one of the newest partners of the Angel Program in Gloucester, Mass. The revolutionary initiative, launched in June by the Gloucester Police Department, guides addicts to treatment instead of jail.

More than 50 facilities are involved in the Angel Program, but Recovery Unplugged is the only one that harnesses the power of “musical medicine.”

“Most centers focus on warning people that they need to follow suggestions or focus on relapse triggers,” Paul Pellinger, Recovery Unplugged’s chief strategy officer, told the Boston Herald. “And that’s important. But really long-lasting change happens in the soul, and that’s where music comes in.”

Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello said he supports whatever method works. “Addiction is a very individualized illness,” he said. “You can’t treat two people in the exact same way. Any diversity in treatment that has a success rate is a pretty good thing.”

Daily routines at the facility include drum therapy, live music groups, and open mic for poetry and music.

In a video about the program, Supa, who himself is 26 years clean, emphasized that music is not an add-on at Recovery Unplugged. It is the core of the program.

“When our clients leave here, they don’t leave with a certificate. They leave with a body of music, some of which they created,” he said. “We have a full recording studio here. We record the songs. Clients come in and they interact with me and they’ll write lyrics about their experience, and I’ll help them put it to music. And each client, when they graduate our program, leaves with an mp3 player with a set of earbuds, and songs that helped them get through and break through into recovery.”

“You don’t have to be a musician. Everybody has music in them,” said Supa. “It’s a universal language.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr

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