Clarity Way: Finding Creativity While In Rehabilitation


Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll – they can all be addictive, but one can be the cure.

No, as much fun as it sounds, sex therapy hasn’t caught on; I’m talking about the healing power of rock.

Clarity Way is a premier rehabilitation facility based out of South Central Pennsylvania. They take a holistic approach to the treatment of substance abuse and process addiction.  Treatments are designed to fit each individual patient, and may include any of a number of therapies: Drug and Alcohol, Addiction Education/Relapse Prevention, Cognitive Behavioral, Psychotherapy, Music Therapy, Holistic Therapy, Art Therapy, Life Skills and more.

I could write a term paper about the effectiveness of holistic therapies on addiction, but this is a music magazine, so let’s talk about the music! Clarity Way’s facilities include a state-of-the-art recording studio, designed by Christopher Thorn of Blind Melon, which is equipped with guitars as well as computers with Pro Tools. The recording studio is available for patients’ use both in and outside of supervised therapy.

“Music is an art form that can affect us in profound ways, and it’s basically a universal medium,” Thorn said on the Clarity Way website. “It can provide comfort, joy and laughter, and can help us through our most trying times. With the creation of the studio at Clarity Way, my hope is that those in recovery can use music as an outlet to find peace, and as a tool for self-discovery, in order to gain insight into who they strive to be in this life.”

clarity-way-centerWith the strong correlation between addiction and musicians, Blind Melon’s Shannon Hoon to name but one, it’s interesting to see how music can help to cure addiction.

“The struggle in therapy is unpairing drug use from playing music,” according to Nick Rowe, a music therapist at Clarity Way. “If a person has always gotten high while playing music, they need to learn how to play music again without the use of drugs. The music, in a way, may be a trigger at first, but the key is to turn the music into a healthy coping skill without the use of drugs.”

A hypothetical patient may have fallen into drugs pursuing the “rock and roll lifestyle,” or come to believe he is more creative while high. The music therapists at Clarity Way work to help the patient to divorce music from drugs, and once that first step is reached, the patient can continue to disassociate drugs with other areas of his life.
The music facilities are not only for the seasoned strummer; music also serves as a powerful socializing influence on patients. In group music therapy, they have to understand their roles within the group, and to listen and respond to others. Since addiction is such an inwardly focused disease (the addict’s primary goal is to serve his own need for drugs or sex, etc.), this sort of social environment is very helpful to breaking the addict out of himself.

The goal of the music therapy, as with all the therapies at Clarity Way, is to help the patient to regain control of his life.

“What excites me most is when someone who has been engaged in music in the past but lost their passion for music due to drug use regains that passion while at Clarity Way,” said Rowe. “I have worked with people who may have played guitar prior to treatment, but learned how much of an outlet it is for them to express themselves rather than numbing themselves with the use of drugs.”