Artists in recovery celebrate National Recovery Month with song, stories

  • Chris Brokaw performing at Union Pool in Brooklyn, N.Y., September 2019. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/Kevin Bannon

Staff Writer
Published: 10/8/2020 6:00:49 AM

Lou Sorrentino, a licensed drug and alcohol counselor who has himself been in recovery for 34 years, says he always wanted to be a musician, and he sang for a number of people who attended an online celebration of National Recovery Month, which is annually recognized in September.

The Opioid Task Force of Franklin County and North Quabbin Region met virtually for an hour last month with members of the community and some of its social service agencies to celebrate artists in recovery who shared their stories and performed during “Celebrate Recovery: Artists Share Their Stories.” 

“All you need to give is hope to others in creative ways. Your creativity is honored,” Sorrentino said to other performers, and sang, “Hope Never Stops.”

Amie Hyson, who has served as a peer counselor at the RECOVERY Project, followed him, reading an original piece.

“I’m a woman in long-term recovery,” she said before she started to read. “I was addicted to opioids. I facilitated my own healing through writing.”

Today, she works with women in the Franklin County Jail running a writing group.

“It has been a good, long time since this old familiar voice felt an impeding sense of dread,” she continued.

She read a piece that talks about her “dis-ease” and how she learned to “silence thoughts that had haunted” her. Hyson says she is now comfortable with herself. She also talked about how alone she has felt through the pandemic — just like everyone else — and that the old demons tried to return during this time of COVID, but the fear passed and she returned to gratitude.

Benjamin Miller, an avant-garde musician from Detroit, Mich., sang a song he wrote when he first became sober. He sang about how he felt scared and wanted to “let go,” and talked about his 34 years of sobriety and the 12-step programs that helped him and that he has had relapses, but is still sober, even though there have been challenges. He talked about miracles.

Clint Conely, a post-punk musician and journalist, said he has never talked about recovery with friends in the same situation.

“I was always living in the danger zone,” he said. “I didn’t hide my addiction. I was overt in my excesses.” 

He said he was once caught in a riptide about a half-mile offshore and panicked. He turned to the person there with him and said, “We’re not making it back.

“That’s what my drinking was,” he said. “One day I said, ‘I’m in trouble.’”

He ended up in the hospital, entered a 12-step program and has maintained his sobriety for 38 years.

“I love not being drunk,” he said. “I love performing sober.” And then he sang.

Singer-songwriter Chris Brokaw has been sober since 2015 and fights every day to stay on track. He told others to give themselves a chance and work through the setbacks. Then, he sang.

Paul Alves, a certified addiction recovery coach, said he believes everyone has the ability to recover. He sang a song he wrote, “Star Child,” inspired by a man with mental health challenges that he used to run into every day.

All who attended the Opioid Task Force event said people in recovery have a lot to be grateful for and should continue to have hope. Organizers said data show that more than 23 million people, approximately 10 percent of Americans, report being in recovery. National Recovery Month celebrates 31 years this year.

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