How a Gospel Choir is Providing Hope for Recovering Addicts
Drugs are dangerous chemical substances that often masquerade as close friends. In taking drugs, an individual is seeking a way to escape from their problems and their troubles, but through drugs the individual often completely loses himself. Where once he may have chosen to use specific drugs on a specific schedule in order to cope with the difficulties of life, he soon discovers that drugs drive his every thought, decision and action and he cannot function without them.
Successful and full recovery from drug abuse and drug addiction requires that the individual address and resolve each and every cause and effect of their drug use, and establish new patterns and routines for their future. The individual will need to uncover the root cause for their initial drug use and take responsibility for their decisions and actions that led them to participate in drug use. They will also need to find other, healthier ways to cope with the challenges of life without turning to drug use. This is often far easier said than done, but it can be done with the help and support of others, especially those who have themselves worked hard to overcome the same problems.
Many recovering addicts have discovered the wonderful benefits of using music to aid in the recovery process. Part of full recovery from drug abuse and addiction includes the individual addressing and resolving difficult emotions that pressed them into or resulted from drug use, and since drugs were a way for them to escape these emotions, this part of the recovery process can be especially challenging for some individuals. Music can provide a way for individuals to express these difficult emotions, and their hope for a better life, in a way that feels empowering and strengthening. In fact, there are many rehabilitation treatment programs across the country that recognize the benefits of using music during the recovery process, and the Addicts Rehabilitation Center in Harlem, New York is no different. Each and every member of the center’s gospel choir is a recovering drug addict who is using the power of music to maintain their steady recovery, and support others in doing the same.
Among the many recovering addicts participating in the choir there is Ira Greig, a sixty-four-year-old who began using drugs when he was a teenager, and soon fell into the trap of heroin addiction. There is also Caroyl Grayson, who became addicted to crack cocaine when she was only twenty-six years old. Grayson remembers living in complete ruin, wanting to kill herself just to escape from her addiction problems.
Greig and Grayson participated in the treatment program at Addicts Rehabilitation Center and found the foundation of their recovery therein. However, they both agree that it is the support from the gospel choir that has helped them to remain clean. Not only is the music uplifting and full of hope and faith, it can fill an important void in the individual’s life as they seek for ways to replace their drug addiction with other, more healthful activities. The group’s director, ninety-year-old recovered addict James Allen, believes that music is a wonderful way for individuals to release whatever frustrations and tension they are holding inside, which is especially important when recovering from drug addiction.
Allen began the Addicts Rehabilitation Center’s gospel choir forty years ago in an effort to help raise money for effective rehabilitation treatment programs. The choir has since performed in Japan and in France, and many tourists visit their weekly concerts in Harlem. The only requirement to participate in the gospel choir is that one remains drug-free. It is a beautiful way for individuals who have lost themselves in drugs to find themselves again and become passionate and hopeful about a better future.