Adventures in recovery: After many relapses, Chris Frederick found sobriety through music and community

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The fifth-annual HazelFest Music & Recovery Community Festival takes place on August 5 at Hazelden in Center City. A celebration of help, hope, and healing to those affected by the disease of addiction, this year’s festival features performances by Lizzo and Har Mar Superstar, along with recovery speakers, a family fun zone, and more. Leading up to this year’s festival, we’re talking with some of the men and women of the Twin Cities recovery community, and sharing their stories.

After entering his first treatment center 18 years ago, Chris Frederick has been in and out of recovery for roughly half of his life.

Like many others in the Twin Cities recovery community, Chris has had his share of challenges and relapses over the years. Roughly five years ago, however, he decided it was time to make some real changes.

“That’s when I decided I really wanted this [recovery],” he says. “I had been to treatment when I was younger, but that was always to make my parents or someone else happy. Then I spent three months in a treatment center in Tennessee, and it changed the way I looked at recovery.”

After living in a sober house in North Carolina for a period, Chris relapsed, and decided it was time to return home to Minnesota. In 2015, he entered the Retreat, an inpatient drug and alcohol treatment center in Wayzata, where he spent 30 days focused on his own personal and spiritual recovery. Upon leaving, he moved into another sober house operated by the Retreat.

“Things were actually going really well,” he says of his time in the house. “Then one night I decided to drink. I think in the back of my mind, I was still really holding on to this idea that I could control it. So I drank, and I could have gotten away with it, but I decided to be honest and confessed the house manager.”

He was removed from the house, but was able to find a new home in a St. Paul sober house run by a company called Stepping Stones. Over the next several months, he began to immerse himself in the recovery community, attending meetings, building a sober network, and working on staying honest with himself and those around him.

Unfortunately, his addiction once again got the best of him.

“Again, I thought I could handle it so I drank,” he recalls. “And then, once again, I confessed what I had done and moved out into another sober house.”

Eventually, he’d leave this cycle of sober houses and move into an apartment with his girlfriend. While having a relationship with someone also in recovery may seem like a positive, Chris says this was ultimately the beginning of a downward spiral.

“I stopped focusing on recovery,” he says. “I was happy with her and I felt good, so I abandoned any type of program and just focused on taking care of her.”

Soon, Chris would begin secretly drinking without his girlfriend’s knowledge. Then one day, he fell on his face – literally.

“I was driving her somewhere and I was so hungover that I pulled my car over on the highway to puke,” he recalls. “I ended up fainting and fell face-first out of a moving car. I woke up with her standing over me, scared to death, and my face just looked like hamburger.”

Not long after, his relationship imploded, and Chris found himself down and out. After spending a few months living with his grandmother in Arkansas, he moved back to Minnesota last September, and once again found himself in sober living.

“I’ve been so institutionalized that I knew the routine,” he says. “I knew the rules and I knew how to navigate it.”

This time, however, Chris decided to do something he had never done before.

“I decided to stop lying, get out of my comfort zone, and start holding myself accountable.”

Like a kid going to a new school, he began immersing himself in the sober community, finding a new network of people, taking on responsibilities, and slowly making progress. Chris just recently celebrated one year of sobriety -- the most he has ever accomplished since beginning his recovery journey.

He’s also found a passion in music, as a producer, DJ, and one-half of the EDM/hip-hop duo Laws & Lions.

“I think it’s important to find a passion for something,” he says. “If you don’t, where’s the joy in life?”

Aside from channeling his energy into producing music and performing at dance nights around the Twin Cities, he has also managed to use it to help others in their journey.

“I have people reach out to me about getting involved in the sober music scene,” he says. “I’ve been fortunate enough to get to a point where I can give these kids the chance to DJ and perform music at our shows. It’s cool because it gives them the ability to work toward something and to have a goal.”

While he’s enjoying the present and looking to the future, Chris is still very active in the recovery community, and focusing on the idea of slow, steady growth.

“My goal is just to make every day a little bit better than the day before.”

Hazelfest takes place Saturday, August 5 at Hazelden in Center City. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.