It’s endlessly amusing to me that for all my training and education, I quote Facebook memes all the time. One of my current favorites: “I love music because it stays when everything else goes away.”

If you’ve been through addiction or any other kind of hell, there’s an excellent chance that music holds great importance in your life. Yet, it’s very often the case that folks fail to conceptualize it as a means for coping with stress or negative emotion.

We use music to motivate and celebrate. We use it to make sense of our experiences. It inspires us to dance and sing. We choose it to match our mood – but we can also use it to release, to soothe, and to promote the mood/attitude that we want to achieve.

Elton John explained, “Sad songs say so much.” I say, I’ve had enough sadness and I’d rather that what I bring into my life be full of hope and healing. I know that music centers and focuses me, so I created a playlist that helps me to stay positive:

Nearly everyone I serve goes through periods of being stuck in their heads trying to “figure it out.” I tell them to treat their head like a bad neighborhood and to not go in there alone. I’m a big believer in the Keep It Simple System (K.I.S.S.). We don’t need to figure anything out. We need to not use/drink and just do the next right thing. These songs describe recovery and coping with the emotional roller coaster that accompanies it:

Survivors know that angry music can be calming. Listening to someone sing or even scream what we feel allows us to access something that spoken or written words struggle to cover. When frustrations build, or irritation appears, I don’t want it to settle down because I don’t want to continue carrying it. I created this list to facilitate expressing and releasing anger:

“Music brings me closer to God.”

– Opus Dei

I have found spiritual growth invaluable to my recovery and while I’m not a religious man, I do need things to believe in. I need to be connected to good people, passion and purpose. This list is what brings me closer to faith – in myself, my chosen family, and in both knowing and feeling that everything is going to be okay:

An old friend who has decades of recovery taught me, “We’re not really human beings because we don’t know how to just be. We’re human doers because we derive our sense of worth from productivity and what we achieve.” This list reminds me to stop pushing myself so hard and to take some time to relax and

What tunes do you find helpful? Inspiring? Email me and I’ll add them to Sober Now’s growing library [email protected]