Curated exclusively for Rock and Recovery™, musician and recovery advocate Marc Lee Shannon reveals the tactics, routines, and habits of musicians, business leaders, and world-class performers on their personal recovery journey. Marc provides his guests a safe space to share their stories and how they are not just surviving but thriving in recovery. For more information, visit rockandrecovery.com
When the Wheels Come Off - China Darrington This is not your average "girl who gets in trouble" recovery story. Let's face it: most 9-year-olds are playing soccer, making friends at grade school, or playing video games. Most are not spending a good deal of time interacting with older people. Most of them are not burgeoning BMX stars. And most pre-teenagers are not experiencing having their life hijacked and stolen into the dark arena of sex trafficking. In this almost-unbelievable episode, Marc goes in-depth with China on her astounding upbringing. And they talk at length about how those early traumatic experiences helped form the foundation for uncertainty and confusion during her teenage years, as well as for her early heroin addiction. China also chronicles concluding that things were riding down the road without brakes and that the wheels were coming off. As we'll discover, China's path to recovery was full of potholes. An inability at first to commit took her from heroin to crack cocaine. And even becoming a parent was not enough to facilitate a move towards sobriety. Drugs were controlling her life. In her words, "I turned into a machine." Jobs were thrown by the wayside. Houses were lost. But it was an unexpected pregnancy, the lightning-flash realization that the person you're carrying inside of you may be more important than your addiction, that finally enabled China to turn a corner. In this dramatic episode, China charts her fascinating road to salvation, how meditation, Buddhist principles, and a book called the 'Dharma Punks' enabled her to deal with her anger and aggression. But more importantly, China Darrington documents her need to re-assess and revitalize her outlook on what exactly 'recovery' is and how she needed to establish new guidelines and coping mechanisms for herself. And, in her words, when 'my brain finally went back online, she talks about arriving at her current role as a recovery coach, a peer-recovery support advocate, a trainer, and a public speaker.
33 min 14 sec
Relationships can be both intensely gratifying and amazingly complex. And they’re made even more challenging if a relationship involves violence, particularly ‘intimate partner violence’. In this one-of-a-kind episode, Marc steers the recovery-conversation in a whole new direction, and he does so with his guest, Hope and Healing representative Leanne Bilitz. In this episode, Leanne deconstructs the assumption that domestic violence can only happen between a man and a woman. She reinforces the view that ‘everyone’s rock-bottom is different’. We encounter new theories on emotional violence, the emerging condition of ‘financial abuse’, and how coercion and manipulation seeps into relationships of all kinds. It’s a unique look into how a loving relationship can morph into a desperate decision to seek shelter, and how recovery plays a role within the dynamic of the need for control, as well as the cycle of violence.
26 min 59 sec
Recovery. And ‘creativity’. Are they light-years from each other? Distant cousins? Or soul-mates? The seemingly divergent paths of ‘staying clean and sober’ and ‘creating something musically’ collide in this latest episode. Hold on to your seats, because recovering addict, musician, and creativity-apostle Kathy Moser is a non-stop whirlwind of brutal honesty and hard-core advocacy for using music and creativity to foster a ‘process’ towards more engaging and fruitful recovery. Kathy charts her own story of recovery with Marc, talks about why music is so essential to her physical and spiritual well-being, and why she stands firm in her staunch belief that ‘creativity is not in the weed, it’s in YOU’.
28 min 28 sec
As a functional addict, Christopher Wimmer made every effort early on to, in his words, ‘get as messed up as possible as often as possible. Luckily, early on, he also made a decision, after bouts with depression and suicidal thoughts, to do what some simply can’t or won’t do: seek help. But ‘help’ for Chris Wimmer on his recovery journey also arrived in the form of spirituality. As an early practitioner of Transcendental Meditation and participation in the Unitarian Universalist Church, Chris eventually found his way into Zen Buddhism, both as a student and, later, as an ordained Zen Buddhist priest. Chris and Marc deeply explored the notion of ‘recovery dharma’, the need to understand being satisfied with not being OK with everything going on in your life, and different perspectives on recovery based on Chris’s role as a licensed independent chemical dependency counselor and licensed social worker.
29 min 20 sec
What happens when nobody wants you around. When you’re ‘unemployable’. When you’ve burned every bridge. At an early age, Clyde Hensley already knew that with the obstacle of a speech-impediment, a beer or two could temporarily help him to overcome it, to feel ‘cool’. But by 2009, through multiple job losses and numerous stints in bands, nobody wanted him around. What happens when you realize that you’ve hit rock bottom? When you’re ‘unemployable’? When you’ve burned every bridge? In this episode, Clyde confesses to Marc a life pock-marked by repeat-offenses, blown opportunities, and, in his words, ‘a special kind of drunk who can even be kicked out of Haven!’ But it wasn’t until he was rescued, literally, from certain death, courtesy of both a passing train and a passing stranger, that Clyde turned a corner with the help of the Salvation Army to regain control of both his musical career and his life.
31 min 56 sec
‘Grief’ is transformational on a variety of levels. Helping others through their time of grief within the scope of an occupation compared to experiencing grief, personally, can be two completely different scenarios. But can one lean on the other? In this final installment of this 4-part series, Marc introduces us to bereavement coordinator Jodee Coulter. Discover how ‘change’ forms the embryo of grief and why, according to Jodee, grief can sometimes resemble a plate of spaghetti. Marc and Jodee also talk at length about the art of ‘asking for help’, and why something seemingly as simple as a song-lyric can be a catalyst for finding the next chapter in the transformation.
32 min 18 sec
It’s a dichotomy and an irony: When Zach Friedhoff’s mother passed away, that event provoked a kind of a mental pirouette, one that, in his words, ‘caused a spinning that he hoped would stop’. And yet, as he and Marc discover in this third installment of a four-part series on ‘grief’, the world continues to spin. And life continues to move on. In this journey, Zach discusses the importance of how nature and the outdoors allowed him to begin to make progress. And, more deeply, he shares with Marc how the concept of gratitude enabled him to begin a recovery-process that set him on the path of healing. It’s a powerful episode that helps teach us all about how the ‘grief-spinning’ propels us into that space between being broken and experiencing gratefulness.
37 min 22 sec
In this second installment of a 4-part series on 'grief,' host Marc Lee Shannon introduces us to his close friend, Terry Weaver. Terry recounts her 'magical' relationship with her husband, Jeff, and how a sudden lung cancer diagnosis sent shockwaves through her world and culminated in his death, after a short hospice stay. A shock to the system. Energy sapped. The loss of a spouse demands a different road to recovery. Marc and Terry discuss the propensity for 'America not allowing us to talk about grief.' Terry also looks back on 'opening the window' to allow the grief process to occur. It was a conscious decision for her to look up into the light and move forward and utilize the help available, to start a new volume that would propel her towards a deeper understanding of the recovery journey in the aftermath of loss.
25 min 8 sec
As a photographer, telling the story of a cancer patient’s journey would be difficult enough. But what if the patient was also your wife? In the initial offering of this season’s 4-part recovery series on ‘grief,’ Marc goes in-depth with his friend, Angelo Merendino, as they explore the grieving process involving the 10th anniversary of the death of his wife, Jen. The photographer explores the reasoning behind his breathtaking photo documentary, “The Battle We Didn’t Choose.” They also discuss how others urged him to chronicle Jen’s breast cancer story. And, finally, how preparing a TED talk enabled him to confront, head-on, a recovery journey like no other.
53 min 24 sec
Seasoned touring music-technician Abbey Wright is an anomaly: she has a keen sense of gratitude for COVID-19 and what it brought to her life. Marc explores Abbey’s recovery journey, in this poignant episode, and the addictions that nearly shut her body down. During a sudden glimpse of surrender, Abbey shares that sacred moment when a simple text message sent to her mother allowed her to admit that she was powerless and finally needed help. “You either break down or you break through.” Abbey discusses the importance of keeping her dream intact, her need to change the mantra inside of herself, and how the isolation of a pandemic moved her towards the gift of a sober lifestyle.
27 min 36 sec
Emily Beers didn’t get in to this because she is a recovering addict, and she didn’t learn about it out of a book. As the Program Administrator for Oriana House, it was a hole in her that made her yearn to help. In this episode, Marc and Emily give a gripping, intensely insightful journey into the day-to-day existence of those in recovery who arrive at Oriana House, why they need to be there, and what it is that Emily and her staff provide for them. Listen why ‘catch-and-release’ doesn’t work, why Emily feels that everyone is a ‘snowflake’, and why those in recovery are ultimately in the driver’s seat.
30 min 13 sec
“I accepted the fact that I was going to die before I was 40.” Tower of Power founder and saxophonist Emilio Castillo was diving down into a deep hole. But it wasn’t until he walked into a 12-step meeting that he finally decided to turn the ship around and head into a new direction. In this episode, Marc talks extensively with Emilio about his ‘drive to live’. As you’ll discover, not everyone in the recovery-journey feels suicidal or is knee-deep in self-loathing. Some, like Emilio, know what they want. They simply don’t know how to get there. And the cry of help can also be a cry for guidance. “Go with the winners. Follow the example of those who are making it and do what they do”. Both Marc and Emilio share their experiences with this critical mantra, a mission-statement for lantern-holders who are finding success. It’s vital, actionable info that everyone in recovery can benefit from, courtesy of this genuine and down-to-earth episode.
17 min 47 sec
Coins in our pockets. What if the years of our life were a representation of those jangles and jingles in our pouches, and each day symbolized the spending of those coins. How many do we have? Is our change purse full? In Episode 1 of this new season, Marc kicks things off 'solo' with his reflections and a microphone, doing a deep-dive in that space between past and future. How are we spending that finite amount of coins here in the present? Is anyone or anything in your life stealing those coins from you? And if you’re down to the last few, what changes are you making to ensure that you’re getting the most out of this remaining time? For what if today was your expiration date? What one thing would you have wished for in your life?
12 min 20 sec
Aside from ‘how does it sound’ and ‘did we have cool guests’ and should we change the theme music’ and all of the questions that we ask ourselves, the primary question is: did we help anyone? As Season Two of ‘Recovery Talks: The Podcast’ comes to a close, Marc gathers the other primary ‘movers and shakers’ who operate behind the scenes of this production as 'guests' for this season finale. He solicits input from the folks who help put it all together, to get their views on the season’s highlights, where improvements can be made, what might be in store for Season Three, and, most importantly, to help him answer the essential question about the mission of this podcast: did we manage to help anyone?
29 min 6 sec
How do you know? And what do you do when you DO know? In this episode, Marc turns the guest microphone over to Dr. Doug Smith, the medical director of the Summit County ADM Board. As you’ll hear, Dr. Smith gives that microphone quite the workout. And with good reason: Dr. Smith has seen his share of ‘big moments’, that critical time-period when patients with a diagnosable mental illness decides to ask for help. Marc and Doug also talk about the inescapable fact that 1 in 4 people have a mental illness, how the stigma is being eradicated, and how ‘TEXT4HOPE’ may be the difference between life and death.
35 min 37 sec
Jeff Dafler thought he could call the shots. People sometimes think that when they feel like they play the role of God. But when he realized that he couldn’t start the morning without a shot, he knew he needed help. In this episode, Marc and Jeff explore the role of ‘religion’ in Jeff’s journey towards the light. From desperation to a life-changing retreat at a New York abbey, Jeff Dafler came to realize his inner strength. And he used his love of the psalms to emerge as an author, intent on helping others to do the same.
38 min 16 sec
Imagine you wake up in a recovery-room at the hospital after a procedure, and the first thought you have is: maybe I should be in recovery. Before Billy Sullivan’s real ‘awakening’, this inescapable conclusion rose to the surface. He woke up to the stern glare of both his doctor and his wife, paired with his physician’s mandate: “You’re not gonna be here if you continue doing what you’re doing.” In this episode, Marc speaks at length with fellow musician Billy Sullivan as he chronicles his journey, his last dance with the Stoli vodka drink which ‘made me toxic, instantly violently ill’, his quest to keep his musical vision intact, and his daily challenge to be the best band-mate, the best musician, and the best father that he can be.
28 min 55 sec
For over a decade, drummer Troy Luccetta lived the dream. Record deals. World tours. And all the ‘fringe benefits’ that come with it. When you’re a member of a band with the pedigree of Tesla, these things are to be expected. But for Troy, it was slipping away under the guise of addiction. And in his words, “I couldn’t see what I couldn’t see, and I couldn’t hear what I couldn’t hear”. In this episode, Marc gets in to the nitty-gritty with Troy… his journey, his plea for help, his long history in recovery…how he’s utilized the strength of his family, and why ‘being a good example of a bad example’ could act as a light for others in recovery.
31 min 10 sec
Angels. Celestial beings who make their influence felt in our galaxy, in our world. How do they come to be? And if they present themselves, can we recognize them? And what if the ‘angel’ is the person with whom we fall in love? In this poignant, powerful episode, Marc breaks from the interview-template and turns the camera on himself. But more specifically, he turns the focus on ‘Elle’, his angel. Marc chronicles her entry in to his life, the numerous ways she turned it upside down, how Elle saved him from certain death before succumbing to her own, and the one vow he made to himself to help others, in order to keep her legacy alive.
14 min 26 sec
‘Bad-Ass-ery’ comes in many forms. But it usually doesn’t reveal itself wearing a white lab coat. For Dr. Nicole Labor, getting through medical school and passing her Boards, all the while doing so secretly as an addict, wasn’t the impressive part. Neither was the effort in pounding out her manuscript for the revered book, “The Addictholic Deconstructed”. It was coming to a realization, the one that eventually moved her in to bad-ass status: ‘The worst person is the one I created based on what I think you think of me’. Dr. Labor joins Marc on the podcast to talk about her journey, her continual recovery, and why saying ‘f*ck’ a lot is sometimes cleansing and beneficial.
30 min 33 sec
Nashville producer, session-player, teacher, and 12-year Darius Rucker band-member Lee Turner is unashamed to admit it and pulls no punches in celebrating it: his sobriety is largely dependent on his ‘higher power’. As you’ll discover with Marc during this episode, Lee had to wander down the path of broken marriages, poor musical performances, and life-sapping demons. And finally, while physically shaking and unable to even utter words, it was a phone call made on his behalf to the Betty Ford Clinic when he was finally able to say to himself, “Thank G-d, it’s over”. Now, playing more vibrantly than ever before, Lee expands on why his belief in a higher power plays such an important part in his recovery, and why he feels his music has never sounded better. ...
32 min 25 sec
Mary K. Riley possesses a list of degrees and academic accolades as long as your arm. And as a recovering alcoholic and addict, she admitted to ‘getting sober and having things go well really quickly’. But as Dr. Riley discusses with Marc on the podcast, even with scholarly success and a new marriage, she felt ‘sentenced to another day of life’. And it wasn’t until she discovered a path through art where she finally allowed herself to feel the feelings and granted herself ‘permission to be messy and a little unhinged’.
33 min 1 sec
“If you can’t kill yourself, maybe you ought to learn how to live”. These words coursed through the brain of Krishna Pendyala, which meant that they were the catalyst that started to lift him up when he was at his lowest point. He joins Marc on the podcast to talk about his journey from accident-victim to, now, keynote speaker, ‘choice’ evangelist, and President of Mindful Nation. Krishna helps people unveil their blind spots in order to make better choices, and he lends valuable and practical advice to those in recovery.
34 min 25 sec
“They wouldn’t pick on you if you just sat down and shut up’. Metal guitarist and boutique amp-designer Curran Murphy utilized this warped strategy, until his anger-issues would not obey. Then, he had to seek help. Curran joins Marc Lee Shannon on the podcast to talk at length about his journey, how his wife became a motivating factor in helping him to walk on a more liberating path, and how ‘being lovable’ proved to be a jumping-off point towards ongoing health and healing.
37 min 21 sec
NEOMED Chair of Psychiatry and ‘compassion bad-ass’ Dr. Randon Welton joins the podcast as he and Marc flip the switch and spotlight the person on the other end of the therapist/patient relationship. Dr. Welton focuses on the successes and challenges of the caregiver-client dynamic, pinpoints the struggles in trying to create a mutually agreeable situation between the two, and shares his insights as to why and when it might be time for each to go their separate ways.
34 min 26 sec
In this episode, Marc shines the lantern on Megan Maxwell, a self-described "Former Suburban Soccer Mom" alcoholic in long-term recovery and, now, five years sober. Megan found that door in the darkness, opened it, and it led to her eventually becoming an Ohio-certified Peer Recovery Support Specialist with Oriana House. Hear Megan's story, her journey towards sobriety, and her dedication to others in recovery with her involvement as a life-change advocate with the Summit County Drug Court Program.
29 min 2 sec
Legendary broadcaster, ‘Rock and Recovery’ host, and long-time Summit veteran Garrett Hart sits on the other side of the microphone as he and Marc talk about the beginnings of ‘Rock and Recovery’, how the show came to be, why the show is such a beacon of light for those who are in recovery, and what the future holds for a show deeply embedded in the birthplace of the modern recovery movement.
29 min 46 sec
While he may be alone for this Holiday, Marc shares a recipe for being appreciative and grateful during this singular Thanksgiving event. With inspiration from the Dalai Lama, carefully-chosen excerpts from a timely periodical, a special 12-Step story, and even some wisdom from his own father, Marc lays out a buffet of relevant nuggets to chew on during this long Holiday weekend.
19 min 27 sec
It’s easier to blow 15k on drugs and alcohol than you might think. ITAL founder David Smeltz shares his journey from the darkness in to the light with Marc Lee Shannon, as he charts his path from occasional user to full-blown addict. Join David as he talks extensively about how he gravitated from using his home-sale proceeds to fuel his addiction, the moment where he hit rock-bottom, and his arduous journey back to re-capturing his music, and, now, what he faces with his new health-challenges.
31 min 59 sec
A challenging childhood. A disruptive marriage. And a peeling-away of self-worth. For musician Stephanie Kranik, all of these life-events contributed to her drug and alcohol abuse, as well as her eating disorder. Follow Stephanie’s ongoing journey from the darkness into the light as she and host Marc Lee Shannon discuss that threshold that she finally crossed to admit that help is imperative, a ‘tribe’ is a necessity, and a new path needed to be forged.
25 min 44 sec
Documentary photographer, mall-historian, Instagram prophet, and native Akron, Ohio-music fan Jessica Anshutz joins Marc on the podcast. In this episode, Jessica chronicles her long, treacherous journey on the road to wellness and mental health. She talks at length about PTSD, about how her childhood and upbringing left an indelible mark, and about the moment that changed her direction. She also shares info about the marriage that saved her life, about Acceptance and Commitment therapy, and about the living art-form that helps keep her focused and healthy.
39 min 18 sec
This time, no guest. "Recovery Talks: The Podcast" host Marc Lee Shannon flies solo. It's authentic, raw, and unembellished. We get the truth laid bare from his inaugural alcohol and drug abuse from early life family-structure chaos. We experience his journey, what it was like, what happened, what it's like now. From corporate-world warrior to a world-class musician who finally, one day, needed to simply stop…and, with the help of others, admit where his life was taking him. To say the words that all addicts and alcoholics must say. Please. Help. Me. It's a gripping story of a man who 'took the lid off the man-hole cover,' to finally get to the real reasons that the substance abuse began, and to eventually celebrate ongoing success not only as a father but also as an author, a songwriter, musician and, now, a podcaster.
33 min 42 sec
Tommy Vext, front-man for the platinum-selling band Bad Wolves, joins Marc to talk about hit records, broken families, violent childhoods, and growing up poor without the benefit of role models. Playing in bands and getting high was all he knew, and it eventually led to the dismantling of any happiness or success he tried to assemble. At the urging of a band member already in a 12-step program, Tommy decided to get help and take the first step to recovery: surrender. Eventually checking out…and then checking back in…to the music scene, and through a scholarship from the Music Cares Foundation, he started to find the way. Fame and recovery CAN work together! During this episode with Tommy Vext, we hear how to maintain a good program both on the road and in the heart, and to spread the word in music and message.
24 min 46 sec
This episode of Recovery Talks features Chrissy Strong... songwriter, singer, single mom, and survivor in long-term sobriety. She describes the moment in a crack house when her dealer pointed to a pile of drugs. At that moment, she felt that inescapable feeling that the end was near... one way or another. Join Marc and Chrissy as they discuss the challenges of overcoming the habits that were sometimes supported by her own family, her breakaway, and the 'taking back' of her life. And...a Special Bonus: a beautiful live performance of her song, "24"!
36 min 41 sec
Seasoned touring- guitarist for the stars, Ricky Byrd (Joan Jett, Roger Daltrey, Ian Hunter and more), talks with Marc Lee Shannon about recovery, recording and rocking before and after getting clean over 30 years ago. This Bronx-born musician tells the story of growing up a skinny, frightened kid and finding substances that would give him courage to feel the confidence that would get him up on the stage. Eventually, while on tour, the habit caused him to actually blow a hole in his lung, and near-death moment brought him clarity. "Total abstinence is the the only thing for me because I had the need to not feel. After the fist hit I felt like a new man, unfortunately that new man wanted another hit!" Listen in while Ricky talks about his new record, Clean Getaway, about getting certified as a Licensed Peer Recovery Support person, and about sharing his talents and songs during performance in treatment facilities and recovery music groups. It's a tantalizing episode about spreading the gospel of the addiction blues and the good news about how it feels to play straight and sober.
36 min 44 sec
Listen in as Marc talks with Cheryl McMillan, a skilled facilitator, narrative Enneagram teacher, and professional. A trauma survivor, Cheryl tells her own unique recovery story that includes childhood abuse and abandonment, as well as the fortuitous intervention by a 3rd-grade teacher. This ensuing pursuit of understanding eventually led her, while listening to an audiobook on a long car-ride, to discover her own deeply hidden struggle with PTSD. Through therapy, she began to feel safe inside her own body, was able to identify the issues, and could then start to heal. In the end, her victory included being able to understand this: that she had a normal reaction to an abnormal situation. (Please pardon the 'audio', but this was recorded using Zoom, during COVID...sorry!)
29 min 45 sec
Performing musician Matt Vance talks to Marc about the various stages of his addiction and his recovery. Matt discusses his early years of substance use, his subsequent abuse, and then the eventual moment that lead to treatment and recovery. It was a poignant moment of surrender that finally enabled him to utter the words, “Mom, I’m a heroin addict”. Join Marc as he and Matt Vance discuss drugs, alcohol and the freedom of creating music in sobriety, that magic spark of rediscovering the ultimate stage of finding artistic freedom again in recovery.
30 min 55 sec
In this episode, Marc talks with Karin French, a former ‘corporate warrior’-turned Yoga instructor, who walks us through her journey of being powerless over alcohol to ‘sobriety-empowered’. Karin describes in detail how she encountered enlightenment on the yoga mat, and, later, through the love of her family and friends, learned to ask for help, transform herself, and emerge as the person who she knew deep inside she could be.
25 min 11 sec
In this first episode, host Marc Lee Shannon zeroes in on the purpose of 'Recovery Talks: The Podcast'. He shares his vision for the show, talks about the 'mission' of 'Rock and Recovery' and its historical connection to Akron, Ohio and radio station 91-3 The Summit and thesummit.fm. Marc also drills down as to 'why' the podcast can be important to those in alcohol and drug-abuse treatment, as well as to those who deal with mental health issues, including anyone who may be in 'recovery'.
7 min 50 sec