On today’s episode of The Addicted Mind Podcast, Duane speaks with Constance Scharff, co-author of Rock to Recovery: Music as a Catalyst for Human Transformation, and author of the award-winning poetry book, Meeting God at Midnight. They talk about other things you can do in your life to bring about recovery and create a meaningful, joyful life, specifically, through using music, meditation, and breathing to help heal from addiction and trauma. 

Constance has a Ph.D. in transformative studies where she studies the nature of change and how the change occurs in an individual. Having been sober for more than 23 years now, Constance saw how people coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan weren’t getting sober and a lot of them were killing themselves. At that time, Constance was suicidally sober. And so, she thought there has to be a better treatment. She then changed the direction of her graduate studies and devoted her life to finding a better treatment – and there is!

Constance went through a very significant early childhood trauma and she used alcohol to dampen the trauma symptoms and make her feel better. She drank until she felt nothing. In sobriety, when she wasn’t pouring alcohol on those feelings, and at a time when there wasn’t any good trauma treatment, she was just plagued with trauma symptoms. 

She figured that the reason some people end up killing themselves was that sobriety doesn’t feel good and there were no options. The treatment they were getting didn’t solve the problem. She soon realized that trauma is stored in the body, but once she was able to feel those feelings and release them, they longer had any hold over her.

In this episode, you will hear:

  • The goal of recovery
  • The misunderstanding around addiction
  • The role of trauma in addiction
  • What are complementary therapies?
  • Examples of complementary therapies
  • Understanding the neurological component 
  • The role of epigenetics in addiction

Key Quotes:

[03:25] “We get sober not to just get through life, but to really enjoy our lives and connect with other people and be part of our communities. The goal of recovery is connection.”

[05:51] “We assume that… if I remove alcohol, and alcohol is the problem, then I should get better… but they don’t get better, they get worse.”

[08:46] “I really understood why the veterans would kill themselves because sobriety doesn’t feel good and there are no other options. The treatment that you’re getting doesn’t solve the problem.”

[10:37] “Complementary therapies are about teaching us life skills that will serve us in our mental health and our recovery.”

[13:23] “You don’t have to be good to write music, play music, sing, write poetry, journal, craft, or act because the brain doesn’t know the difference between skilled and unskilled. It only knows that you do it.”

[19:44] “There are facts that are true… but how I relate to those facts is what makes all the difference.”

[24:34] “If we do breathwork, it releases these feel-good chemicals. If we do meditation, it releases these feel-good chemicals. If we do grounding exercises, it helps us with our trauma. All of these things synergistically create more than the sum of their parts.”

[32:29] “Trauma is stored in the body and when I can feel those feelings and release them, they no longer have a hold over me.”

[43:27] “Each thing affects the mind and body in a different way. And so you want to keep poking the brain so that you don’t over-focus because addiction is about obsession.”

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Supporting Resources:


Rock to Recovery: Music as a Catalyst for Human Transformation

Meeting God at Midnight

Instagram: @constancescharff