It’s a ‘G’ Thing: Road Recovery uses rock music to help teens battle addiction

Posted at 5:59 PM, Jul 10, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-10 17:59:22-04

The beat of the drum, the shred of the guitar and the power of the vocals.

Separate they're just sounds, together they're unstoppable.

"It’s kind of my second home," Nechama, a participant, said.

“I was very grateful to get into this program," Eli, a participant, said.

But the young artists here aren't just making music, they're making progress.

“I’m here because I am a recovering drug addict and alcoholic," Eli explained.

“Getting sober is hard because it’s a change from the whole life I was used to," Nechama said.

For Eli and Nechama, life was a constant battle.

"I had this mentality that the world was against me," Eli said.

"I always felt like not understood, felt like I was different, and why can’t I just be happy," Nechama remebered.

The both turned to drugs and alcohol.

"Started out with pot, got into drinking, that turned into hallucinogens," Eli said.

“I have a lot of mental illness, that was part of my addiction in the first place," Nechama said. "I believe my addiction is just a part of my story."

A story that now will have a different ending thanks to the help of one special non-profit.

“They don’t need their ass wiped, they need help, they need support,” Gene Bowen said.

“So we created Road Recovery and these programs to keep them engaged," Jack Bookbinder added.

Gene Bowen and Jack Bookbinder started Road Recovery in 1998 after years of working as a band and tour manager for various artists.

“We came together after some time when I got sober, when I got clean,” Bowen said. "We thought maybe there’s a way to take this power and this influence to kids and help kids."

The bi-weekly program includes a peer support session, self-governing meeting and creative workshop.

"It’s coping skills and applying the things that they’re learning therapeutically but then it’s bringing in the life skills in a practical way and in a safe environment that they can trial and error," Bowen explained.

And for this 16-year-old and this 20-year-old, it's working.

“My sobriety date is July 22, 2013," Eli smiled.  “What this program did for me is allowed me to express myself, now at Road Recovery I rap. When I came I had no experience whatsoever but I wrote a lot of poetry and couple people here encouraged me to vocalize it."

"They push you, they believe in you no matter how low you start, they give you a chance," Nechama said.

Road Recovery also gives them the chance to work with some of the music industry's biggest names like Slash, Peter Frampton, and Michael Alago, a legendary executive who signed bands like Metallica.

“I can come in here and let the young people know how I survived all of this and that you can do it too," Alago said.

“They just want to be loved and they want to be shown they have value," Bowen added. "And if they’re willing to pull the line for themselves and see that others are willing to do it as well, that’s where amazing things happen and we’ve seen that."

Addiction will be a lifelong fight for Eli and Nechama. But both say they just focus on one day at a time.

"I think the biggest thing was when I was just comfortable being in my own skin," Eli said.

“Where are you now in terms of where you want to be?" I asked Nechama. "I definitely am amazed at where I am, I really feel like I’ve been reborn."

Produced by: Kim Pestalozzi