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Fighting addiction with music

By Hollani Davis, hdavis@wdbj7.com
Published On: Jul 09 2013 08:06:26 PM EDT
Updated On: Jul 09 2013 08:18:51 PM EDT

Tonight WDBJ7 Anchor Hollani Davis has the story of a woman who discovered an untraditional therapy that struck a chord.

ROANOKE, Va. -

Inside a house in the heart of Southwest Roanoke, the sound of music is literally changing lives.

Sexually abused as a child, Linda MacDermott turned to alcohol when she was 12.

"By the time I was 16 I lived like I was going to hell because I really believed that I had committed enough sins that I wasn't going anywhere, " says MacDermott.

Finally she got her breakthrough after decades of battling heavy demons.

Jim Borling is the man who brought her back from emotional suicide.
For more than 20 years as a board certified music therapist he's helped alcoholics, drug addicts and those suffering from post traumatic stress.

"If I begin to feel as an addict, anxiety, fear or remember some trauma, my usual pattern would be to go use my drug of choice and to numb out and put that away," says Borling.

But instead of putting those emotions away, Borling crafts a special play list for each patient. Once they're deeply relaxed, some classical pieces draw out the chaos.  Others are more comforting.  All are designed to teach a different way to cope.

"There is this point where Jim is really pissing me off, screaming and saying go ahead, push, fight. The image was this big boulder and I had to push this boulder out of the way," says MacDermott.

It took three years of monthly sessions for her healing to come. The timetable is different for everyone. And like traditional therapies, music therapy is a gamble. But this recovering alcoholic had to try it. In fact, she bet her life on it.