Dealing with addiction can be problematic, with Drug Dependency Rehab facilities working through the wringer to get people cured. One rehab facility in Austin, however, has garnered attention for its results, with better numbers than the US’s national average, all thanks to music.
One of the people who found this new facility, Recovery Unplugged, is Joseph Gorordo, an Austin-born native, who first got onto drugs at the age of 12. He was a IV heroin addict for about six years, who bounced around from treatment centers and rehab facilities. To him, they simply weren’t working. In 2008, he got sober, and was approached with the idea for the Recovery Unplugged in Austin.
The first Recovery Unplugged is at Fort Lauderdale, in Florida, with the one in Austin being the first in the lone star state. What sets it apart from the usual Drug Dependency Rehab program is the comprehensive, music-based treatment for people with addiction. The staff in the facility are a mix of care professionals, musicians and songwriters.
Gorordo says that the music gives their patients a voice and a powerful connection with each other and the staff, which allows clinicians a way to get to them and help them more quickly.
Patients at Recovery Unplugged will write, produce and perform music to improve their self-esteem and confidence, while also helping them open up about their problems. Group Facilitator Tony Sanchez says that this different approach lets people feel more at ease when going through rehab, a trying time even for the best of people.
There’s a lot of factors that come into play as to why it’s difficult for addicts to stay sober. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 17% of adults in Texas reported either binge drinking, or outright alcoholism. Across the state, 2015 saw around 1,100 opioid related deaths.
Forcing people into recovery has also proven difficult, with the US seeing an average of 42$ of rehab patients leaving abruptly against the advice of doctors.
Nova Southeastern University, a private research education institution in Florida, did some research on the matter, collecting data on rehab centers from 2015 to 2018 and discovered, during the milestones of one, six and more than 12 months, the national average for patient recovery was about 5-7%. For that same time period, Recovery Unplugged recorded a whopping %40, about six times higher than the national average. The data also shows that about 40% of the patients from Recovery Unplugged stay sober for more than a year’s time.
Dr. Bob Duke, a professor at the University of Texas and Head of Music and Human Learning for the Butler School of Music, explains that a connection to music lets patients experience a sense of control, which gives them a sense of agency that helps them overcome the feelings of helplessness that come with addictions. Patients, he says, feel they’re not helpless, they realize that they can make something on their own, and it’s beautiful.