Original Article By: Seena Sleem, WTVF News Channel 5
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — As “National Recovery Month” wraps up, people from across Nashville showed their support to those who have struggled with substance abuse. RecoveryFest Nashville was held on Saturday to celebrate the positive impact of recovery from substance abuse and giving recovery the visibility it deserves.
“We need to recover out loud and events like this that bring recovery out in the open and helps break down stigma and shame of getting help is important,” said Cumberland Heights’ own Cindy Spelta, also co-chair of RecoveryFest Nashville, “there’s too many people suffering in silence so we don’t need recovery to be in silence.”
Spelta has been recovering for 17 years. She said part of recovery is knowing you’re not alone, that there is a community behind you and resources available to you.
At this event there were dozens of vendors with information regarding help and recovery, music and guest speakers. The event was held at East Park Greenspace and was free to the public.
Tennessee is one of the hardest-hit states when it comes to the opioid crisis. There were 1,268 opioid overdose deaths in Tennessee in 2017 and more than six million painkiller prescriptions in 2018.
At Cumberland Heights, we always put the patient first, and value the importance of active participation in the recovery process. Take the first step toward healing by calling us at (866) 899-5231 today.
The MusiCares® Sober Jam is a quarterly event offering musicians an opportunity to perfor, in a safe and sober environment. The Sober Jam begins at 6:00PM with solo performances, facilitated by emcee Phil Bogard. Each event includes an unannounced special guest performance. All attendees — both on and off-stage — are considered to be active participants in the Sober Jam. By simply showing up, listening to music, and offering an applause between songs, each guest plays a meaningful role in creating a safe environment for the performers.
Your personal recovery journey is like a fingerprint. While many of them look and feel the same, unique experiences make our stories one of a kind. They can inspire, heal, create hope or even push someone to take that first step in their own journey.
That’s what Cumberland Heights’ new podcast “Recovery Live” is all about. Liz Stanislawski, Marketing and Public Relations Manager and former WSMV journalist will be interviewing alumni, staff, family members, counselors – really anyone who has been touched by addiction. The podcast is co-produced by Jaime Gibbons, Alumni Relations & Volunteer Coordinator. She is the very first guest, talking about what 16 years of sobriety looks like.
Cumberland Heights also welcomed Travis Meadows on the show. The successful singer/songwriter is known for penning hits for several country music stars including Wynonna Judd, Jake Owen, Eric Church, Brothers Osborne and Hank Williams Jr. He also has several albums of his own like “Killing Uncle Buzzy” which was inspired by journal entries he wrote while he was in treatment at Cumberland Heights.
Future guests include a meth addict whose story was broadcast to millions on the A&E reality show, “Intervention”, a teen who grew up in the recovery world and ended up becoming addicted himself and a woman who as a young teen had to take care of her siblings when her mom disappeared for days.
These stories don’t sugarcoat. They are real, raw and honest. From teenagers with just a couple years of sobriety, to those who haven’t picked up a drink or drug in 30 plus years.
We are so excited to share this new project with you and hope you’ll gain as much from listening as we have putting it together.
Staying sober in college is about as foreign of an idea to some as going to a restaurant and not eating. You can watch just about any movie or tv show that takes place on a college campus and you’ll see keg stands, Jell-O shots and beer bongs galore. They even have a way of glamorizing the hangovers and next morning walks of shame. So, it really is no wonder some young adults in recovery wonder how they can possibly stay clean while still having a meaningful college experience.
Greg Snodgrass remembers that feeling. He is a Regional Outreach Coordinator at Cumberland Heights and spearheaded the design for Collegiate Recovery at the University of Alabama. But before all his success, he was lost.
“I lived my life in addiction for many years. I never thought that addiction would happen to me. I thought I could control it and that apparently was not the case. In my opinion drugs and alcohol were fun and that’s why I enjoyed them. However, at some point the drugs and alcohol stopped working and my life became miserable. I destroyed my college transcript and never thought I would return to college,” said Greg.
While in treatment in 2004, Greg was encouraged to apply to two Collegiate Recovery Schools. A Collegiate Recovery School is one with a supportive environment within the campus culture that reinforces engagement in activities free from drugs and alcohol. It is designed to provide an educational opportunity alongside recovery support to ensure students do not have to sacrifice one for the other. Despite Greg’s fears that he wasn’t smart enough to get into a program like this, he was accepted, went back to school and thrived in a way he never thought possible.
“I sat in the front row when I used to sit in the back of the class. I raised my hand, turned in my homework, went to office hours with the professor, asked for help, and never missed class unless it was a legitimate excuse,” said Greg.
Greg graduated magna cum laude. He has since make it his mission to help other college students who are struggling.
“I pictured college through the eyes of John Belushi in ‘Animal House.’ In many aspects, the party scene has not changed since the movie was first released 40 years ago. Collegiate Recovery is like a sober fraternity/sorority. It is a fellowship that enables recovering students to create an environment on campus safe and fun. Collegiate Recovery is designed to empower those in recovery to strive for success. Collegiate Recovery helps to squash the fear of ‘I am less than’ or ‘I am not smart enough.’ The program turns our fear into confidence by building a fellowship of students that help one another achieve the unimaginable in academics and life,” said Greg.
The three longest standing Collegiate Recovery Programs are Rutgers University, Texas Tech and Augsburg University. One of the first replication model Collegiate Recoveries is here in Nashville, Tennessee at Vanderbilt University. Once accepted in the program, students have access to academic advisors, tutors, study rooms, printers, computer labs, meditation rooms, seminar courses, peer mentors, housing, scholarships, waived out of state tuition opportunities, recovering students and all other resources your higher education tuition has to offer. Essentially, it’s a fellowship. This is important because Academic Institutions can be a hostile environment for those in early recovery according to Greg.
“Collegiate Recovery helps you to change that lens and experience college as a recovering student. Students soon realize they can have more fun in their recovery than they did in their addiction. You can be successful in academics, friendships, relationships, life decisions, future careers and living life on life’s terms by being a part of a recovery fellowship on campus. I am living proof that it is possible to stay sober and enjoy life in college,” said Greg.
If you are your child is interested in learning more about Collegiate Recovery, contact Greg at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-879-7125.
2019 Alumni Relations Canoe Trip on the Harpeth River
Join Alumni Relations for a 7 mile float down the Harpeth River. You can pick your paddle buddy or we can pair you with someone the day of the event. Price includes canoe rental and cookout afterwards hosted by Scott A. (His address is: 8732 Cub Creek Road Nashville, TN 37209) Please wear comfortable clothing and closed toe shoes. Don’t forget to pack water, sunscreen, snacks and a change of dry clothes.
Your body is dangling, your heart racing, your stomach drops and then it hits – euphoria. You just plunged 30 plus feet, literally hanging by a thread – well actually a rope, but you get the idea.
More than two dozen Cumberland Heights employees took part in The Big Swing Event April 15 and sure, it was an amusing way to kick off the week, but we did it for much more than the thrill. It was a lesson in trust, peer support and letting go.
“It’s your decision and yours alone,” said Recreation Therapist Jimmy Hudgens.
He was talking about the cable you pull when you’re ready to take the plunge. But for those familiar with AA, we’re thinking, “This sounds a lot like Step 3.” Wait a second! This whole exercise mirrors recovery” (or for others, simply letting go of control).
I was the second person in our afternoon swing group to go. The counselor who went before me did it effortlessly. She even looked relaxed, as if she were swinging back and forth on a hammock. I’m thinking to myself, “Oh, this is easy. I have nothing to be afraid of.” And then my friends on the ground started pulling me up. If you’re not familiar with The Big Swing, it’s kind of like those hoisting you up are playing tug of war – everyone is in a line stepping backwards, yanking on a rope to pull you to the top. So, I see them on the ground getting further and further away and all of a sudden, I’m looking down on acres upon acres of rolling hills as if I’m the camera lens on a drone. In my head I’m thinking “Oh gosh this is high.” It wasn’t until I heard people on the ground say “It’s going to be okay” that I realized I was speaking out loud. And then I had made it all the way to the top.
I nervously scream below, “So I just pull this thing?”
I hear a resounding “Yes!”
And I didn’t think. I just did it. I pulled it. And I screamed. I screamed really, really loudly. And I didn’t stop screaming for several seconds. And it was super scary. But it felt amazing. It was a rush like I haven’t felt before. And as you swing back and forth coming down, you just get to bask in the afterglow. All of my friends were happy for me, and then, even better, I got to be a part of their experience when they took the plunge!
Every person there had a job – to spot someone on the ladder, to hoist someone up, to stop pulling the rope when the swinger didn’t want to go any higher. We had to support one another and we had to trust each other.
Others who had done the swing before took it a step further. They put a blindfold on before they dropped. Josh K. was one of them.
“It was a totally different experience because being up there, being that high you can’t see down so you’re just trusting everything is set up right. Here we go. Blind jump. It’s wild,” said Josh.
“Walking by faith and not by sight may be easier than we expect,” said Jimmy.
April R. who organized the event took part in it as a patient at Cumberland Heights a little over three years ago.
“It’s more just fun now since I’m really not afraid of heights, but at the time it was very therapeutic, very special. It was me saying ‘I surrender.’ I just let go and it was emotional and moving,” said April.
She wasn’t alone in her experience. Jimmy says this exercise means more to the patients than we may ever know.
“I had one guy come to an alumni reunion and I recall that patient being very quiet when he was in treatment, but when he came to the reunion he said the swing was his first spiritual experience. It was about giving up control for him. It was his spiritual awakening he said. And you would never know because he never said anything until years later,” said Jimmy.
Recreational therapy is a staple here at Cumberland Heights and I’ve always appreciated it, but I never fully understood it until that day. In treatment you can do everything by the book and go through the steps as you’re told, but it’s usually moments like these when people really find their center, higher power or willingness to let go. Others may find those things in group therapy or in the art room. Everyone responds differently to certain therapies in treatment and Cumberland Heights works really hard to honor that. That’s just one of the things that makes this place so special.
Alumni Relations of Cumberland Heights invites you to participate in Back to Basics: Steps and Stories. This intensive 12 step workshop, much like the original step working format from the 1940’s, is open to all persons in recovery.
All materials will be provided for participants as well as box lunches.
WHAT: Back to Basics – Steps and Stories
WHEN: Saturday May 18th 9:00AM – 4:00PM
WHERE: River Road Main Campus – Ishee Chapel
All three of our guest facilitators, Wally Patton, Brit Schanks and Carver Brown, are experts in Back to Basics and have taken hundreds of people through the 12 steps in group settings.
We will begin promptly at 9:00AM and end at 4:00PM, please make sure to arrive no later than 8:45AM to get your supplies and seats. During lunch there will be an assignment to process with your partner or small group. Please be prepared to stay for the duration of the workshop, each participant should begin and end the day with the group.
Every morning when I drive through Cumberland Heights’ arched gates, I am thankful for the opportunity to help patients and families “recover life.” And every night when I leave, I am reminded to “Let go and let God,” and am grateful for the thousands of little things our staff members do each day as they walk new paths of recovery with our patients.
What our entire Board of Directors and I appreciate most is the generosity of the Cumberland Heights community – donors and volunteers alike – who support our mission. Throughout the pages of this report, you will see how much Cumberland Heights has grown since we started in 1966 with only three patients and a handful of staff.
Everything we accomplish is because of donors like you and the hundreds of others who generously give to Cumberland Heights every year. Thank you for helping change the lives of our current patients, families, alumni and all those who will seek our help in the years to come.
NASHVILLE, TENN. – Sept. 6, 2018 – Cumberland Heights is pleased to announce the hiring of Nick Hayes, M.S., LMFTA (TX), LCDC (TX) as Director of Clinical Research and Outcomes and Greg Snodgrass as Regional Outreach Coordinator.
Hayes will focus on efficacious treatment protocols, predictive analytics, feedback-informed treatment procedures and collaborations with institutions of higher education for all of Cumberland Heights, including inpatient and outpatient treatment programs.
As Regional Outreach Coordinator, Snodgrass will serve as the liaison between Cumberland Heights and a variety of referral sources to ensure seamless and timely admissions as well as treatment and continuing care services for patients and families seeking help with addiction.
“Nick and Greg have skills that reinforce why Cumberland Heights has consistently remained a nationally renowned treatment center for more than 50 years,” said CEO Jay Crosson. “The research overseen by Nick is critical to demonstrating the effectiveness of our treatment programs and sustaining – and growing – our authority in the industry. Likewise, Greg’s ability to build referral networks ensures that we are reaching patients and families who need help recovering life from the grips of drug and alcohol addiction.”
Hayes holds dual licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist-Associate (LMFTA-TX) as well as a Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC-TX). He has advanced training in quantitative methods, neuro-analysis and systems theory.
Hayes is a doctoral student within the Couple, Marriage, and Family Therapy Graduate Program at Texas Tech University, where he has also served as a student member in university’s Center for Collegiate Recovery Communities for the past seven years. He had worked with the Cumberland Heights Foundation while pursuing his degree.
Like many of Cumberland Heights’ staff, Snodgrass is living in recovery. He is actively involved in 12-step programs and sponsors men in recovery.
Snodgrass completed treatment 14 years ago and has since dedicated his life to helping others struggling with addiction. He received a scholarship to return to higher education at the Collegiate Recovery at Texas Tech University. He was then responsible for the five-year design and implementation of the Collegiate Recovery at the University of Alabama and served as director of the program.
He also served as National Director of Corporate Relations and Sponsorship for the Association of Recovery in Higher Education, where he oversaw the fundraising, donor relations and organizational growth for the association. Most recently, he worked as a sober companion for Rick Parrish and Jamie Eater at Sober Escorts Inc. and John West of The Guest House in Ocala, Fla.
Snodgrass spends his free time with his wife and daughter traveling to horse shows across the southeast with their thoroughbreds, Harley and Pickles.
About Cumberland Heights
Cumberland Heights’ mission is to transform lives, giving hope and healing to those affected by alcohol or drug addiction. As a non-profit organization, Cumberland Heights is committed to the approximately 2,500 men, women and adolescents it serves every year and the communities where its facilities are located. The organization has followed the teachings of the 12 Steps since its founding in 1966.
If you or a loved one would like to speak directly with one of our licensed admissions staff, please call us now at (800) 646-9998 or submit the following information. If outside business hours, we will get back to you the following day.
Why is it so meaningful to give to Cumberland Heights?
Your gift to Cumberland Heights through our annual and capital initiates gives immediate support to patients and their families. To make a longer term impact a gift to the endowment fund will provide patient assistance funding for years to come.