California Nonprofits - Rock to Recovery
Credit: Chris Loomis
California Nonprofits - Rock to Recovery
Credit: Chris Loomis

Rock to Recovery Uses the Power of Music to Help People Overcome Addiction

Here’s How Founder Wes Geer Is Harnessing the Healing Power of Music for Good

Late nights, high-octane performances, drugs, alcohol: the rockstar lifestyle can seem like a fantasy. And while it’s easy to get caught up in the glamorous idea of non-stop partying, it’s a lifestyle that can lead to lasting ill effects on someone’s physical, mental and psychological well-being.

California Nonprofits - Rock to Recovery
Credit: Chris Loomis

As someone who has faced his own battles with addiction, professional musician Wesley Geer knows firsthand that sobriety can be as life-changing as it is life-saving. After touring the world for eight years with Hed PE, Geer sought out rehab. Then, with three years of sobriety under his belt, Geer was approached by members of Korn, and he toured with the band for the next several years.

After his very successful stint with Korn, Geer was in a place where he was ready for his next adventure: finding a job that also intersected his callings. “I was looking for something to do career-wise, and it was almost a time where I was falling into self-pity going from this incredible rockstar gig to being in the job circuit again,” Geer explains. “And I literally prayed and asked the universe, ‘Okay, if I’m supposed to be sober and I was called to be a musician, how can I use who I am as a person to help other people and make a living?’”

California Nonprofits
Credit: Steady Jenny

Geer’s prayers were answered during a meditation session with the ideation of Rock to Recovery—an opportunity for him to take music into treatment centers. Now Geer is still rocking out and doing so in a way that helps and uplifts others who are working on changing their lives for the better.

Formerly a recording arts, drums and guitar teacher at The Fusion Academy’s Huntington Beach campus, Geer was well-acquainted with how transformative self-expression through music could be, especially when given the right environment.

Credit: Chris Loomis

“I was in a treatment center, and there was yoga and drawing, but there was no music,” Geer recalls. “When I started this, I thought music should be part of the treatment process. But now in our 10th year, there’s a variety of levels on which [music helps with treatment].”

In one of Geer’s first sessions, he encountered a patient who was severely dope sick, suicidal and angry. By the end of the session, however, Geer saw that he was feeling better both mentally and physically. “Music affects ‘measures of wellness:’ it gives you a brighter outlook, more joy, more hope for the future,” Geer says. “But in this case, we saw somebody transform from physical ailment through playing music.”

Credit: Steady Jenny

Despite seeing the incredible difference that music can make for those undergoing treatment, Geer wants to be clear that it’s supplemental to the program and care itself. “Music isn’t the end-all-be-all cure,” he says. Part of treatment is confronting and mulling over problems and feelings that—while an important step—can dampen the spirit. Music allows patients to get in touch with their inner child and feel more uplifted and empowered.

In “Rock to Recovery: Music as a Catalyst for Human Transformation,” a book he co-wrote with Constance Scharff, PhD, different vignettes are shared, showcasing how people from different walks of life were able to use their Rock to Recovery music sessions to propel the changes that they were working on making and sticking to.

Credit: Chris Loomis

“What we know is that when we listen to music, it engages half the brain…and when we play music, it lights up the whole brain,” Geer explains. With this mental stimulation comes a rush of feel-good chemicals like dopamine, serotonin and, most importantly, oxytocin—a hormone responsible for feeling bonded to and part of a community.

Today, Rock to Recovery is growing its outreach to help those in addiction treatment as well as those facing other mental health struggles, including veterans in the Wounded Warriors Project and at-risk youth. The organization works with over 100 treatment centers across California, Oregon and Tennessee, helps over 5,000 people per month and has written over 20,000 songs through the program.

Credit: Chris Loomis

“The results of doing something like this, which is a connective and expressive exercise, is so vast,” Geer shares. “We as humans, and everything else in creation, are music—it’s vibration, it’s frequency…it’s important to get back to those roots of expression.”

Want to show your support? Follow and interact with posts on Instagram at @rocktorecovery. You can also send a DM to learn more about other ways you can help out.

Rock to Recovery

Writer | Website | + posts

Born and raised near the Pacific Coast, Jordan Nishkian is a California girl through and through. She graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a BA in Creative Writing and a BA in Anthropology, and her favorite place to be is curled up in a comfy chair with a book in her hand and a pen in her hair.


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