My name is Casey Montana Rogers. This last year has been quite a journey for me within the recovery community, but it all started years ago. My brother and I have always been best friends, he means a lot to me. We are ten years apart, but we have always been close. He travelled a long road battling addiction starting in his teen years, so I was just a little kid. My brother was not the “stereotype” addict. He was a good student, football player, cheerleader girlfriend, respectful, and kind. However, it was easy to tell the times he came home high, trying to act normal, can anyone “act” normal? And we always knew whom the phone call was about. But one time, the phone call was different. Imagine, you’re sound asleep, it’s two in the morning and the phone rings. Your heart jumps a beat. It’s one of those moments where you know deep down that something wasn’t right. My brother had overdosed on heroin, his heart had stopped, and he was being rushed to the hospital.
Fast forward a few years later, I’m eighteen years old, sitting in Nashville for the first time, writing a song, “Battle Scars,” about my brother overcoming his drug addiction and the role that family plays in recovery. YES, I did say, “overcoming!” By God’s grace he is now six years clean.
Two years after I recorded “Battle Scars,” I sent my song to Rockers In Recovery (RIR), an organization that travels around the United States to treatment centers spreading the message of hope and recovery through music. From that, it became the 2014 official song of RIR. After a year of traveling with Rockers In Recovery singing “Battle Scars” and sharing my brother’s story, I became the Unplugged Director. It has been such a blessing and honor to be a part of Rockers In Recovery. I believe when you share your own story, you allow others to open up and share theirs. You’re helping yourself by softening your heart, and helping others to soften theirs. No one should deal with the emotional strain that comes from bottling up your story. So now, I would like to share the story behind “Battle Scars.”
One night, my brother was with one of his best friends who happens to be a pretty popular musician where I am from. So while his friend was playing music, my brother overdosed on heroin at the bar. His friend jumped off stage and started giving him CPR. Everyone around was pulling him away saying, “he’s already gone.” He actually ended up punching someone and losing his gig. This is where the beginning line of my song comes in, “your heart stopped my hands were tied, but I’ll go down before I let you die.”
But he didn’t stop trying to keep his heart pumping. When the ambulance got there, they gave my brother a shot in the heart. My brother’s friend even came to the hospital to play for him. Talk about a true friend! My brother had many of his close friends, including his best friend, die of drug related incidences. This is where the line, “the fallen before you too many to count” comes in.
It’s hard for families to understand the addicts mind. Addiction is a disease, and the hurt is not on purpose. This is why I wanted to talk about the family aspect in my song. I always had faith my brother would get through. For some reason, I was almost at peace about it. I attribute that to my faith in God. For I knew He had greater plans. I didn’t know it would be years later, but I am so blessed with the journey He has put me on. You can never lose hope. You cannot give up on your loved one, not when they need you the most. The addict will struggle through the awful battle of addiction, but the family goes through it too. This is where the chorus comes in, “You’re a warrior in the dark. All that’s left are battle scars. We are warriors in the dark. All the beauty in your battle scars.” You can’t let go! “We’ll stand here your hand in mine, on the battlefield one step at a time.”
As a family member of a loved one dealing with addiction, you will never fully understand it, but you can see the damage done, and realize it is not intentional. No one grows up saying, “I want to grow up to be a drug addict.” It’s a disease, and like any other needs treatment and support. As a family member and friend, you have to be the support. It might have to be tough love, but whatever the support is, never lose hope. If you lose hope, what gives the addict any?
It’s hard for me to deal with the stigma of addiction. It’s one of few things I will argue (and win) about, but only because I am so passionate about it. I know you can’t win everyone over, but just one person is a step in the right direction.
You can find addiction in almost every family, and if not, someone knows someone with addiction. It is no longer just in the “ghettos,” it is everywhere, every community and every city. So, even though sometimes I find myself surrounded by people who judge addiction, I have found it is okay because one thing you can’t argue against is a changed life, and that happens within the throws of addiction and the purpose driven life of recovery.
I have met so many wonderful people within the recovery world. Traveling around with Rockers In Recovery has really opened my eyes to how many people I have connected with, from all walks of life, who have been brought together through recovery. For that, I am thankful. I am only twenty years old, but this journey has been one my soul feels fully alive with, and that’s something to cherish.