Recovery on record
From Johnny Cash to Amy Winehouse, alcoholism and the spiral down into addiction is a recurring theme amongst musicians. But one man from Blackburn, West Lothian, hopes the music he wrote as part of his recovery will now help the service which turned his life around.
Joseph Boyle (pictured) started drinking heavily a decade ago following the death of his wife. At his lowest point he was consuming three bottles of wine a day. His drinking was so severe that it began to damage the cells in his brain, and Joseph lost movement in his lower body and started to suffer from memory problems. After several admissions to hospital because of his heavy drinking, Joseph was diagnosed with Alcohol Related Brain Damage (ARBD) in 2014.
After his diagnosis Joseph was one of the first people to be referred to Penumbra Milestone, an alcohol-free 10-bed step-down unit in Edinburgh which provides short-term care for vulnerable men and women who have a diagnosis of ARBD.
After 12 weeks of abstinence and support at Milestone, Joseph travelled back home to receive further recovery-focused support in the community. He now returns regularly to Milestone, this time as a volunteer to help other people who have been diagnosed with ARBD.
Speaking about Moonstone and his own recovery, Joseph said: “Singing and playing music as part of the music group at Milestone helped me regain coordination and improve my memory, and it introduced me to the power of music. The group was a big part of my recovery.
“Song-writing has been a release for me. It has helped me tackle the demons which caused my problem drinking in the first place. I think you can hear that in the record. It charts my spiral downwards, the bouts of depression and the mood swings, and finally the story of my recovery.
“I’m really grateful to everyone at Milestone for the support I received. Without it I don’t know where I’d be. I go back to Milestone fairly regularly now to help out the music group that helped me so much. I’m hoping this album will allow me to give a bit more back.”
The 15-track album is on sale through the website bandcamp for £5, although people can choose to pay more if they wish. All proceeds from the sales will go to the mental health charity Penumbra, which runs Penumbra Milestone in partnership with NHS Lothian, City of Edinburgh Council, Midlothian Council, East Lothian Council and West Lothian Council.
The album takes its name from the Moonstone gemstone, a symbol of hope. The songs fall into three parts – Spirals, Trauma and Recovery – and reflect a common path of addiction and (hopefully) recovery.
The songs were recorded at Penumbra Milestone by Dr Matthew Hicks and Penumbra Recovery Worker Kyle Cuthbert, with bonus tracks being recorded at Purple Orange in Bathgate.
The Milestone music group – which includes staff and people receiving support – also feature on the record. Some of the instruments used by the group were purchased through funding from the Edinburgh & Lothian Health Foundation.
Moonstone can be streamed on Bandcamp – https://Josephboyle.bandcamp.com/releases