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Music therapy helps former college athlete recover from addiction

Music therapy helps addicts recover through song
Music therapy helps addicts recover through song 02:38

After nearly losing her life to illicit drugs, a music program for addicts helped 28-year-old Abby Aposporos learn to live again. Growing up, Aposporos was a star athlete, and she went on to play soccer at a Division III college.

"My goals back then, it was just kind of my entire life revolved around soccer," the Maryland native told CBS News. "I didn't really see anything past it, but it was just kind of like, work hard, play hard."

But, sports-related injuries forced her to undergo 11 surgeries, which led her to opiates.

"I was introduced to opiates at, like, a very, very young age from all my injuries," she said. "Honestly, like, 8 years old ... just from being hurt and stuff like that."

Over 100,000 Americans have died from drug overdoses in the past year — more than the number of deaths caused by vehicle crashes and gun violence combined. According to the American Addiction Centers, 85% of people that go to rehab for drug abuse relapse within one year of seeking treatment. 

Aposporos went to rehab three times to fight addictions to crack, heroin, and most recently, fentanyl, which she said was the most addictive. Then, she discovered Recovery Unplugged, a Virginia treatment center that uses music therapy to get people sober through song.  

"We're using music as a way to get to people that it hits them in their heart," Recovery Unplugged's Executive Director David Engwall told CBS News. 

Aposporos said she owes her sobriety to the unique program. After celebrating one year of sobriety, she is now thinking about joining the program as a counselor. 

"I love coming here. I immediately go straight to the music room and start playing," she said. "This place was very special to me."

Engwall said 80% of people who come through his doors complete the program, which features weekly concerts. No previous music experience is required.

"You can watch the stress and all that just sort of leave their body in that moment," he said. "They have this sort of cathartic experience that I'm jealous of as a therapist."

Aposporos said the program taught her how to live again — "other treatment centers that I went to, they didn't necessarily do that."

If you or a loved one is battling addiction please visit OR call GET HELP (855-206-0070).

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