How Little Creek Lodge Helps You Find Your Rhythm Again
There is this persistent myth that creative genius is fueled by drugs or alcohol. Charles Dickens had a thing for opium. Edgar Allan Poe and Ernest Hemmingway were known for their addiction to alcohol. Kurt Cobain used heroin; Stephen King has talked openly about his cocaine and anti-depressant use. Ask anyone you know which artists died from overdoses, and most people can rattle off at least a dozen: Amy Winehouse, Brad Renfro, Prince, Michael Jackson, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Phillip Seymour Hoffman – you get the picture.
It doesn’t help much, if we’re honest, that a lot of artists in different genres speak (and have spoken) openly about their drug use, saying that it frees them. And there is a scientific component to why people might feel that way: after all, creating music and art causes our brains to release dopamine, the same way certain drugs can. If an artist associates that release with drugs, as opposed to his or her creative work, then that artist may, over time, feel the only way to get that release is to continue using drugs or alcohol.
Of course, your body builds up a tolerance to drugs, which means you need more and more of them to get the same high. Luckily, your body never builds up a tolerance to art. That’s why you can feel the same waves of emotion every time you hear a certain song – no matter how many times you hear it.
Here at Little Creek Lodge, we make the creative process one of the focal points of our addiction recovery program. We encourage our residents to rediscover not only the joys of making music, but the frustrations, too: after all, how can you celebrate the extraordinary if you do not know what the ordinary is?
Creating a new rhythm
If you do anything for long enough, those actions take on a rhythm of their own. The same is true for drug and alcohol addiction; your life can take on a rhythm, a routine, where you find yourself using at certain times of the day, or after certain events, or when a specific feeling comes over you. You might not even realize that you’re doing it.
Our Music Program aims to help you create new rhythms in your life, with all the highs and lows that come with creating art. Our in-house studio has top-of-the-line equipment, so that when they are ready, our musicians can record and edit their own music. We bring in professional musicians to work with our residents, to both assist them when they are “stuck,” and to show them what can be accomplished when you stick to the plan. We show the men we work with that you can still build something beautiful in a safe and sober environment, and then we showcase that work.
In short, we empower our musicians-in-residence to find a new rhythm, and to march to the beat of their own drums once again.
Why our Music Program is so effective
Aside from the obvious benefits of creating something beautiful, there are two specific elements to our program that help make it so successful.
First, we encourage self-expression. When you are using drugs or alcohol, your ability to express yourself is diminished. These substances change the chemical make-up of your brain. These changes affect how you think, how you interact with others, and how you express your needs. Socialization becomes really difficult for a lot of people struggling with addiction, in part because they are so focused on their own needs that they cannot see beyond them.
In our program, we encourage self-expression. We foster our residents’ ability to find their own voices, and empower them to speak their truths. This is a critical tenet to all of our programs, but because our musicians are given an end goal – creating and recording the CD – it gives them something definite to work for, and helps them establish a set of steps in working towards that objective. It helps them reset their rhythms.
Second, it reminds our residents that they, and their work, have value. Addiction creates tunnel vision: all you really care about is the next fix. When you take that away, and the addict realizes that he has lost friends or a job, or the support of his family, or anything else that used to matter to him, then it can be really hard to find value: in himself, or in what he does.
But they do have value – as individuals, as members of a group, and as creators. Our residents learn they can rely on one another to help them reach their goals, and that the process of creating music is equally as important as the end result of the CD. It is a tangible item of value that they helped make. Their work is valued not only because they built something, but because of the journey to build it in the first place.
Arts is all about rediscovery and reinvention. At Little Creek Lodge in Northeastern Pennsylvania, we encourage our residents to express themselves, and to find value in the work they do at every stage. To learn more about how our programs can benefit men in recovery, please call 570-630-9354, or fill out our contact form.