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Rockin’ Recovery: Music Festivals That Fight Addiction

“Music is a medium that we can all relate to. It inspires, it motivates, it transcends and brings all different walks of life together despite all political, religious or life views – in this case, for a cause.” ~ Brian Serpone, guitarist and co-founder of Hope Music Festival.

This festival is one of many events held across the nation to raise awareness and funds for addiction recovery treatment. Not only do these festivals offer a day of entertainment and education, they also provide much-needed support to families and communities crippled by substance abuse.

Hope Music Festival – Cape Cod, MA

With a line-up of more than 20 acts, the Hope Music Festival was held in Cape Cod, MA on August 23. Proceeds from the event went to Cape Cod Healthcare. This organization operates a Substance Use Disorders Initiative which runs several programs to combat chemical dependency.

The festival’s after-party included a tribute to those whose lives were cut short by substance abuse. Organizers asked community members to submit photographs of their loved ones to include in this memorial.

The Cape Cod area has experienced a 340 percent increase in annual opioid overdose deaths between 2000 and 2015. Organizers of the festival hope to use music to make an impact on these numbers by raising awareness and funds for treatment. Serpone explained, “The vision for the Hope Music Festival, in a more general sense, is using the word ‘hope’ as something we can all understand. It gives us optimism and expectation that we will be one part (of many) working to ultimately defeat a very complex problem, and music – our universal language – is the vehicle.”

Addiction and Recovery Awareness Musicfest – Westminster, MD

Founders of this festival were encouraged by the turnout for the July 2017 event. Organizers expected around 300 people before the end of the day, but had over 150 within an hour of the festival’s opening.

At $10 per ticket, this positive turnout raised significant funds for the festival’s beneficiary, Rising Above Addiction. This local nonprofit organization is dedicated to providing financial assistance to young adults in early stages of drug rehabilitation. Founded in 2015, the nonprofit has helped more than 60 people and has opened transitional housing for those entering recovery.

The need for such organizations in the area is clear. The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported a total of 2,089 drug overdose deaths in 2016 alone. This is an all-time state high and a staggering 66 percent increase over the previous year.

To bring in community members from all walks of life, the family-friendly MusicFest included:

  • Food
  • Clothing and book vendors
  • Performances by regional musicians (many in recovery themselves)

The goal of the festival was to raise awareness, raise funds for treatment, and show people recovery isn’t boring. Jesse Tomlin, co-founder of the event, noted, “An event like this helps spread awareness, and it shows that recovery is definitely not boring. We do go out and have fun.” Rising Above Addiction’s co-founder, Tammy Lofink added, “This shows the community there’s such a great addiction recovery community in our area, and I think it’s great for them to get together and celebrate and have fun. And I’m hoping it breaks the stigma.”

HazelFest – Center City, MN

Hosted by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, HazelFest is held each August on the Hazeldon campus in Center City, MN. As the country’s largest nonprofit treatment provider, the Foundation’s legacy stretches back to 1949. It offers recovery solutions nationwide for youth and adults. HazelFest is one of many events held to help raise funds for these efforts.

Now in its fifth year, this chemical-free, community festival offers a day of fun for all ages. It includes:

  • Music from today’s most popular bands
  • 12-step recovery speakers
  • Food trucks
  • Local art exhibitions
  • Family activities

It’s designed as a day to gather and celebrate the hope of recovery. A portion of every ticket sale “provides help, hope and healing to those affected by the disease of addiction.” The hope is to strengthen communities, restore families, and save lives. With over 3,000 attendees, the festival generates significant support for Hazelden’s programs.

Love of Recovery Music Festival – Wilkes-Barre, PA

This free festival was held on September 9, 2017. Hosted by Rockers in Recovery, the event is one of many efforts put forth by the group to end the stigma of substance abuse and provide hope to attendees.

Rockers in Recovery has produced 26 other Addiction Education & Prevention Music productions since 2011. Each festival offers:

  • Bands and solo acts
  • Food and beverage vendors
  • 5-minute speeches by addiction treatment professionals

Since the festival is free, it doesn’t benefit a specific recovery organization. Rather than funding, the goal is to educate and have fun in a loving environment. Organizers explain, “We need to let people know we can enter into recovery to live purposeful lives and be of maximum service to all. How we do this is very simple: through Rock-N-Roll”.

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