Refuse to Use program offers virtual evening of recovery

Benjamin Lerner at a upright piano. Text in orange: "It took getting clean for me to realize that expression and creativity are the drugs I've been searching for all along. I'm still a junkie. I just get high off of music now."
Photo by Bryce Boyer

LONDONDERRY, Vt. – The Collaborative’s Refuse to Use program is thrilled to offer a virtual evening of recovery and music Feb. 25 at 6:30 p.m. Our guest artist for the evening is composer, writer, radio host, and recovery advocate Benjamin Lerner. Benjamin will share his personal experience and struggles with addiction – as well as his inspiring story of resilience and hope – in both words and music.

This virtual event will take place via Zoom and is open to the public. Registration is available at

Benjamin Lerner, the great-grandson of Irving Berlin, started his musical career as a classical piano prodigy, but by his early 20, he was a full-blown addict. Now sober since June 13, 2016, he journals his journey in addiction and sobriety in his all-new piano-raps, which combine classical piano and rap. His debut album, “CLEAN,” was released in February 2020 and his weekly column, also entitled CLEAN, appears in The Vermont News Guide. He is the host of CLEAN Jams on WEQX, which celebrates rap, hip-hop, and recovery every Thursday night at 11 p.m. Benjamin credits his continued success in recovery to his ability to express his emotions relating to his struggle through word and song.

“When I first went to rehab,” Benjamin admits, “I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to make music anymore, because I made music about doing drugs for so long, I didn’t know if I’d be able to do it without getting high. It took getting clean for me to realize that expression and creativity are the drugs I’ve been searching for all along.”

During the last unprecedented year, the Refuse to Use program has focused on building resilience and community through events which educate our youth on the harmful effects of substance misuse, while also cultivating the skills-based assets necessary to help make healthy decisions. Refuse to Use program manager Natalie Philpot states, “We are so grateful to our community partners, caring adults, and youth for their investment in the program this year. It has been amazing to see such investment in the health and well-being of our community.”

This final series of Refuse to Use programming will focus on the skill of resilience. We ask the wider community to enjoy this virtual live event featuring Benjamin Lerner and to use it as an opportunity to connect with others in their lives. This event is being presented with partnership from Old Mill Road Media. To register, please visit www.thecollaborative/us/refuse-to-use. Email questions to For more about Benjamin Lerner, go to

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