Musical Medicine: Recovery Unplugged

by Matthew Wexler

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday September 17, 2018

Musical Medicine: Recovery Unplugged
  (Source:Recovery Unplugged)

The statistics are staggering. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 48 million Americans used illicit drugs or misused prescription drugs in 2016. Every day, more than 115 people die from opioid overdoes. However, numbers don't tell the story of how people's lives - not only those in addiction but also family members, friends, and loved ones - are impacted by addiction. Recovery Unplugged uses the power of music to help patients heal from alcohol and drug addiction, and the results are proof-positive that music-based recovery can provide long-lasting impact.

With nearly 20 years of experience, Recovery Unplugged's Chief Strategy Officer Paul Pellinger has been a driving force behind the treatment center's efforts since its 2013 opening and understands firsthand the pitfalls of certain ideologies around addiction.

"I've been in the field of combating addiction since 1989 and realized early on that many teachings - based on fear and consequences - aren't effective," reflects Pellinger. "Addicts don't care about consequences! Anyone I know who has been in long-term recovery has found their motivation more in the soul rather than the head. And this can happen through music. I thought, 'There's got to be a way to harness this.'"

What is Musical Medicine?
Lake Worth facility.  (Source: Recovery Unplugged)

What is Musical Medicine?

Since the beginning of time, humankind has embraced music as a means of connection and healing. The very first musical inscription dates back to the first century A.D. "Seikilos Epitaph" was discovered on a Turkish gravesite with musical annotations and lyrics that read, "As long as you live, shine, Let nothing grieve you beyond measure."

Centuries later, Recovery Unplugged has created treatment plans that utilize this powerful energy to aid patients in their progress. While each person is unique, it has been found nearly universally that music can be a catalyst to break down barriers that keep people stuck in the spiral of addiction. Connecting to oneself - and one another - through music offers an opportunity to explore beliefs, moral attitudes, and healthy responses to life's challenges.

The power of music-based treatment extends far beyond those critical first weeks and months. Music facilitates treatment retention by helping patients internalize perceptions, skill sets and behaviors needed for long-term recovery. This deeply embedded sense memory has the potential to impact a lifetime of sobriety.

Reaching the LGBTQ Community
(Source: Getty Images)

Reaching the LGBTQ Community

Only recently have federally funded surveys started to document the addiction disparity between heterosexual and "sexual minority" population (identified as LGBT according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health). Early data shows significantly higher substance use and misuse in the queer community. The numbers comparatively soar among LGBTQ teens - one meta-analysis indicated queer teens were 90 percent more likely to use substances than their straight counterparts.

The trained staff at Recovery Unplugged understands the complex circumstances facing many LGBTQ patients, from family estrangement and work/social discrimination to inner feelings related to sexual identity. Though the path to recovery is universal, these particular issues require sensitivity and an experienced approach. Music-based therapy often accesses dormant emotions, and when combined with traditional treatments like detox and individual counseling, the results can make a long-lasting impact with a renewed sense of self-worth, self-acceptance, and toolset to cope with whatever challenges life may bring.

A Recovery Lifeline
Fort Lauderdale flagship location.  (Source: Recovery Unplugged)

A Recovery Lifeline

Recovery Unplugged can be found in distinct and welcoming locations throughout the country, with a Nashville location slated to open by the end of 2018:

Fort Lauderdale - The flagship location, nestled just a block from the soothing sounds of the Atlantic Ocean, provides a serene backdrop for contemplation and action-oriented recovery.

Austin - Located in the live music capital of the world, this urban setting stimulates recovery and features fully appointed residences and access to holistic treatment in a medically supervised environment.

Lake Worth, Florida - This second location on Florida's east coast provides a welcoming and structured setting for those seeking recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.

Additionally, Recovery Unplugged Encore (locations in Austin and Annandale, Virginia) offers outpatient support for long-term sober living. This timeframe is critical for patients to embrace their independence, reconnect with loved ones, and establish a pattern of healthy, supported choices in day-to-day life.

For more information, visit

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Matthew Wexler is EDGE's National Senior Editor of Travel, Lifestyle, Health & Branded Content. More of his writing can be found at Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @wexlerwrites.

How Music Medicine Heals

This story is part of our special report titled How Music Medicine Heals. Want to read more? Here's the full list.

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