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Beckenham guitarist's rehab tour

Jim Smith

Jim Smith

Archant

A social worker has returned from touring some of America's most famous rehab centres using music as addiction therapy.

Guitarist and singer Jim Smith, 62, of Albermarle Road, Beckenham, who has been in recovery from alcoholism since 1975, was awarded a grant to visit clinics including The Betty Ford Center, known for treating celebrities including actor Drew Barrymore and singer Johnny Cash.

Jim says he “lost the will to live” when his own addiction spiralled out of control as a budding musician three decades ago.

Among the father-of-three’s stop-offs were New York, Florida, Nashville and Arizona.

He said: “I learnt a great deal on the trip. The last 35 years of my life have been spent in recovery from addiction. Music has played a big part in my life.

“To visit America was a dream and a wonderful experience.

“I met a man who works with Native American drumming circles there which has the effect of uniting people and giving them a spiritual perspective on life.

“In New York I found that professional musicians in recovery are using music to help and guide young people with their problems.

“Wherever I went music presented itself as a guiding light, a dynamic force, which gave purpose and meaning to people whose former lives were tragic and self-destructive.”

Jim now plans to start his own project in London employing recovering addicts in the music industry.

“I was a budding musician but my alcoholism really stopped it all,” he said. “I was hospitalised for it from the age of 21. I was unemployable and was in and out of psychiatric hospitals many times. I lost the will to live. Then AA came along and I managed to get my life back.”

Jim’s trip was funded with a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship which provides opportunities for British citizens to go abroad on a worthwhile enterprise.

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