On Sept. 29, San Bernardino Valley College and the San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health presented The Sound of Recovery, held in celebration of National Recovery Month. Over the course of the event, the SBVC Auditorium filled with the melodies of original songs inspired by local individuals and their recovery stories, featuring musicologist Richard Blacksher, country artist Ashlie Amber, and several SBVC students.

"The arts have been used for decades as a means to navigate the complexities of addiction and recovery," SBVC Music Prof. Margaret Worsley said.

"Fortunately, the research is showing just how important these artistic outlets are within the realm of mental and behavioral health. Music therapy was once a field of alternative medicine that has evolved into a field of medical treatment that is rooted in data-based research. We are living in an exciting time where treatment plans are including music and art therapy. As an educational institution, anticipating growth within this field is a community responsibility."

Holding events for National Recovery Month makes it clear SBVC cares "deeply for our community," Worsley said. "Recovery affects everyone, however given the nature of our systems and cultural norms, we are not always open about the profound repercussions surrounding drug and alcohol addiction. By participating in recovery awareness, SBVC is showing our students and the community that we see them and we support them."

sound of recovery

It's vital to get people to start talking openly about topics like addiction and treatment, and one way is through music, "an integrated part of our culture which can and does influence young people," event organizer Donnie Harris, a mental health education consultant with the San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health, said. "We can utilize the recovery messages embedded in the songs to open the door for conversation about the issues surrounding substance use disorders in our community. By normalizing the conversation, we can reduce the stigma about addiction and offer treatment services to a greater number of community youth."

Once there is increased awareness about substance use disorders and recovery programs, that leads to more opportunities "to engage with young adults in prevention as well as treatment within the Department of Behavioral Health's system of care, which has great potential to improve the overall health of students attending local high schools and colleges," Harris said.

Sound of recovery guitarist

Students and staffers from across SBVC participated in The Sound of Recovery, including Sage Azaria, Ashley Eddy, Raymond Henley, Wayne Hundley, Sarah Orinion, Anna Perez, Paul Del Rosario, Chandler Born, Richard Montoya, and Carolina Izumi (students) and Margaret Worsley, Lucas Cuny, Melinda Fogle, Samuel Rodriguez, Melinda Moneymaker, Lillian Vasquez, and Dean Leticia Hector (faculty, staff, and administration).