By Stephen Baldwin, RealWV
Back for its fourth year, Healing Appalachia is a concert focused on recovery from substance use. Headlined by stars such as Tyler Childers, Jason Isbell, and Trey Anastasio, the concert will draw tens of thousands of people to the Greenbrier Valley later this week.
In past years, questions arose over why the recovery-based concert sells alcohol? We sat down with Charlie Hatcher, director of Healing Appalachia, to discuss it.
“We’re 100% run by folks in recovery,” he says. More than 500 volunteers give of their time to make the show possible, and all of them are in recovery.
“Most folks who are in active recovery aren’t scared of alcohol because it’s in every walk of life,” Charlie continues. He says if people in active recovery couldn’t be around alcohol, they could never go to an Applebee’s or a concert again. “That’s crazy.”
Instead, Charlie says they work to make recovery a central part of the entire experience. More than 40 recovery providers from every state in Appalachia will be present at the WV State Fairgrounds to provide resources to attendees.
“Should someone be there who’s having a weak moment,” he says, “I’ve got every form of recovery including AA and NA meetings. All you gotta do is look around.”
While some may assume the concert profits off of alcohol sales, Charlie says they do not. They allow the host site to sell it, while Healing Appalachia focuses on educating people about the need for recovery efforts.
Between performers on Saturday, concert organizers provide educational panels. These presentations allow people in recovery to tell their stories, while also giving folks in the crowd who aren’t in recovery an opportunity to learn how to help.
“We have also people tell their stories of addiction so we can learn and not be angry,” Charlie reflects. “It’s easier to be angry than it is to love. Everybody has been affected by this. Let’s make sure we put our anger into the right places and use love to conquer it.”
Since the concert’s inception, Healing Applachia has donated more than $400,000 to direct recovery programs.
For ticket information, visit www.healingapplachia.org. It begins with a free concert Wednesday night, followed by three days of shows through Saturday night.