"Send Me A Friend" Program Helps Musicians Stay Sober

By David Konow 09/24/19

The program offers individualized peer support to musicians in need of a sober companion.

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The world of rock and roll is full of vices, and it’s hard for many musicians to stay sober. Send Me A Friend is a network of 3,000 musicians in recovery that help each other. 

Send Me A Friend was created by singer-songwriter Anders Osborne, a well-known musician in New Orleans who became sober after hitting a personal bottom in 2009. If he didn’t clean up his act, he risked losing his wife, his home and bank account as well.

With the help of Ivan Neville and Dr. John, Osborne got sober, then founded Send Me A Friend to help other musicians.

How It Works

When you contact Send Me A Friend, a volunteer musician in recovery keeps an eye on you as a sober companion. They stay with you, make sure you don’t use, and they help musicians hold it together when performance anxiety starts to creep in.

Osborne recalled once performing on New Year’s Eve, one of the most dangerous nights for a person in recovery, and he had "friends" from Send Me A Friend to watch over him. While they sat there and kept an eye on Osborne, he recalled, “It was such tremendous help… It just was accountability. I knew people that knew I was trying to be sober and work, [who] sat there.”

As Osborne told the Deseret News, “There’s a ton of anxiety usually, worry about people’s opinion, if they will enjoy or enjoyed the show. And you certainly need to focus and center your own energy, making sure you’re strong and confident, otherwise you won’t be of much use up there. Then after the show you need a little time to come down and ground yourself.”

Hazards Of Touring

One musician who toured with Osborne, Marc Broussard, said, “Being exposed to his protocols definitely opened my eyes about certain things that were going on in our camp… it’s not necessarily a business that makes staying sober very easy.”

While Broussard admitted he is not totally sober, he’s now learned how to temper his drinking on the road. “There’s the sense now that if I’m buzzed at all when taking the stage, that I’m not being professional.”

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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.