School shows how to build musical instruments and a new life after addiction

Getting a second chance after addiction

Hindman, Kentucky — On the banks of Troublesome Creek, music is being made with power tools and sandpaper. Tabatha Mosley is learning how to make a ukulele.

"This is just the beginning. This is just the start, kinda like my life," she said.

The Culture of Recovery program at the Appalachian School of Luthiery is designed to give people like Mosely a second chance. An addiction to opioids forced her to give up her four children more than a year ago. Making instruments is helping her heal.

"It's teaching me how to build things, then it's going to bring joy to somebody else," Mosley said.

Bluegrass music has deep roots in this part of Appalachia, but so do poverty, drugs and alcohol abuse. Doug Naselroad runs the non-profit Troublesome Creek Instrument Company and two of his craftsmen are recovering addicts.

"There's clinical evidence that when people apply their hands to a task that demands concentration, it actually begins to re-wire the brain," Naselroad said. "We think of it more as a hedge against recidivism." 

Which is exactly why Mosely is there. She's now 16 months sober and back with her children. She sees the ukulele emerging in her hands as instrumental to her future.

"It's just gonna keep getting better and better," she said.