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Rapping toward recovery

Justin Clancy from Peabody, a community outreach coordinator and treatment advisor with Banyan Treatment Center in Wilmington. (Jim Wilson)

LYNN — Justin Clancy is making music with a bigger purpose in mind. The 22-year-old Peabody native got help with his addiction through recovery and listening to music from local artists. Now he is returning the favor.

“I’m not a recovery rapper, I’m just a rapper that happens to be in recovery,” he said.

Clancy, who who has been sober since the age of 19, describes himself as an artist, an advocate, and a survivor. He is the co-founder of a non-profit organization called New England Addiction Outreach (NEAO) and works as a community outreach coordinator and treatment advisor for Banyan Treatment Center out of Wilmington.

“Facing struggles builds character,” Clancy said. “If everything was given to me on a silver platter or if it unfolded so easily, I wouldn’t be the man that I am today.”

Matt Ganem, Somerville native and manager of Banyan Treatment Center, knew Clancy when he was a young addict and has stood by his side on the road to recovery. Ganem saw Clancy’s potential and hired him, knowing he would make a difference in the addiction community.

“He is a shining example of what recovery can do, proving you don’t have to be a statistic or another number,” he said.

As the co-founder of NEAO, Clancy receives about 30 phone calls a day to direct addicts seeking recovery to the right treatment facilities and uses his own recovery efforts to act as a relatable source for them. According to Clancy, one of the most important pieces in beating addiction is remaining true to yourself and remembering where you came from.

The hip-hop artist first started creating music at a young age to help cope with his struggles, but says he did not find himself artistically until he was clean and sober.

“It wasn’t until I recorded ‘TV Dinner’ a year and a half ago that I really started branching out and went against the grain and found myself as an artist,” he said.

His music video for “TV Dinner” has had more than 200,000 views on Facebook and has been a form of treatment for recovering addicts like Townsend native Nicholas Smith.

“His music video came out right as I was starting to get back on my feet and it was good to hear because I was able to relate to it completely,” Smith said.

Clancy had his first headlining show on Aug. 11th in Cambridge, where he raised almost $600 in ticket sales. He donated all of the proceeds to Right Turn, an addiction recovery center that focuses on creative arts.

Woody Giessmann, CEO and founder of Right Turn, has been in recovery for more than 27 years and was astounded upon receiving Clancy’s donation.

“Music is an effective way to treat trauma because it has its own language in treatment,” he said. “We have seen a very high outcome in addict recoveries at our center and we notice people staying in treatment longer.”

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