Entertainment can be a minefield for some people in recovery for addiction. Night clubs and concerts often feature alcohol above board and occasionally illicit substances below, an array of temptations and bad influences for people trying to get their lives on the right track, but who still want to have a good time.
“A lot of the young adults when they stop using, they think what am I going to do?” said Tammy Lofink, founder of the nonprofit Rising Above Addiction, which helps people struggling with addiction get into treatment programs. “Will I have social life? What can I do for fun?”
One answer? Attend a sober music festival.
On Saturday, July 7, the second annual Addiction & Recovery Awareness MusicFest will return to the Buck Miller Arena at the Carroll County Agriculture Center, featuring music by area acts B-RAiN, Joe Nester, The Jam Alker Band, REM ONE and others; food vendors; and speakers on the topic of addiction and recovery. The festival runs from noon to 10 p.m., with $20 general admission tickets and $50 VIP passes.
“We have Brandon Novak again, who is from MTV’s ‘Jackass,’ ” said Jesse Tomlin, one of the founders, along with Brian McCall, of MusicFest. “He is a big advocate and helps get people into treatment. He is going to be our main speaker.”
Also speaking will be Tim Ryan, who is also in recovery from heroin addiction and is the star of A&E’s “Dope Man.”
Proceeds from the event will go to benefit Rising Above Addiction, Tomlin’s own nonprofit, the Push HOPE Project, and the Up and Out Foundation.
“They are out of Frederick County and do the same thing, the same mission,” Tomlin said of Up and Out. “They fund treatment.”
Last year, the inaugural MusicFest was able to raise a little more than $6,000 for Rising Above Addiction, according to Tomlin, with almost 600 people attending. This year he hopes the turnout, given the event’s expanded lineup, will be even better.
“We’re going to try to keep growing it. Right now, on the Facebook event, 2,500 people have RSVP’d. That’s a big number. I mean last year we only had about 400 RSVP,” Tomlin said. “We’d like to make it an annual thing.”
And it’s about more than simply raising money, according to Tomlin, who has been working on his own recovery for the past seven years, but about providing fellowship and support and meaning for people who are struggling with addiction.
“Our mission is just to come together and bring as many people to come together as we can — that’s why I invited other foundations to be a part of it — and just try to make a dent in the epidemic in whatever way we can,” he said. “It’s bad right now. People are dying left and right from overdoses.”
In the first five months of 2018, 37 people have died from drug and alcohol overdoses in Carroll County alone, according to Carroll County Sheriff’s Office statistics.
“It hits home to me because I’ve lost so many friends to the disease of addiction,” Tomlin said.
But recovery is possible, as Tomlin, McCall, and many of the performers and speakers will attest on Saturday.
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“That’s why it’s important for people to come out and say: ‘Hey, look, I am a recovering addict. We do have fun, sober things to do,’ ” he said. “That’s why doing a music festival in Carroll County, it’s like, ‘wow.’ ”