A New York Musician Experiences God, Finds Sobriety, and Shares Hope with Others

As a drummer, Trevor grew up idolizing some of the greatest drummers in the music business. And while he admired their sheer musical talent, many of them weren’t exactly the best role models in other ways.

“From a younger age my idols were drummers but some of them died choking on their own vomit,” Trevor said. “So, my ideas about alcohol and drugs were affected by my admiration for musicians who had often had various substance abuses that were glorified by fans and the press.”

Still, Trevor didn’t grow up around alcohol or drugs in his immediate household since neither of his parents drank. It wasn’t until high school when things started to change.

“I’ll never forget my reaction the first time I drank three beers. I wanted to feel like that as often as possible. It was easier to laugh and talk and socialize and very early on I started to crave it. I always drank to get drunk and that has characterized my alcoholism for most of my adult life,” Trevor shared.

A couple of years after he graduated high school he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He was stationed in Okinawa, Japan, where he continued to drink heavily. However, this season also turned out to be influential in positive ways as well. It was there that Trevor reconnected with his faith. Although he was raised Catholic, he drifted from the Chuch as he got older.

“When I was in Okinawa, I was having a conversation about going to church with a buddy and he asked me if I ever went to church. We both decided that we ought to go to Christmas Eve Mass so we did. I noticed that during and after Mass that the feelings of isolation and loneliness I had went away. I started to go every Sunday and was eventually confirmed,” Trevor said.

It was during this when his chaplain suggested that Trevor consider the priesthood. At the time, Trevor was on track to becoming a Navy doctor and was engaged to get married. But both plans fell apart due to his being discharged because of mental health issues. So, heeding the advice of his chaplain, after he got out of the Navy he ended up at a Jesuit seminary in Detroit.

“I thought entering the novitiate would cure me of my proclivities for alcohol but it doesn’t do that. I spent two years there and it was an interesting experience, though I would not classify it as a joyful one. One night while I was there, I walked up to an old fisherman’s bar and proceeded to spend the $40 in my pocket on whiskey. I came back pretty hammered and my spiritual director could smell it on my breath the next day. It was then that I came to the realization that I was an alcoholic,” Trevor shared.

He was eventually dismissed from the Jesuits, an experience that was quite difficult and made him feel as if he had been rejected by the Church and, to some extent, even God. He decided to move to New York City to pursue a career as a drummer. For the next decade, he immersed himself in the city’s music scene, which was rife with alcohol and drugs. 

“It got to the point that I was drinking to blackout every day. Throughout it all, I didn’t deny I was an alcoholic. I just didn’t care,” Trevor said.

He eventually ended up in rehab, though a month later he was drinking. A year later, again at rock bottom, he called his mom for help. She came to New York and stayed with him to help him detox. After that, he began attending AA meetings around New York and sobriety stuck for a few years.

While he was able to maintain sobriety, he ultimately decided to move back to his hometown Canton, Ohio, to get away from the constant temptation to drink in New York. However, Trevor became depressed and anxious once he arrived back home.

“The music scene was not like New York at all. I loved my friends and the culture in NYC and so it felt like a real defeat leaving that to come to a place that is culturally void. It didn’t take too long to numb that depression and anxiety with alcohol, and that persisted for three years as I just drank and played music at bars.”

He eventually ended up at a VA hospital, where he underwent rehab again. It was here that he developed an idea to help other veterans. 

“A therapist helped me consider how I could continue to pursue my passion for music but in a manner that wouldn’t compromise my mental health and sobriety. During one evening at the VA hospital, I had brought a practice drum pad and some sticks and was playing on it and people came by and told me they liked listening to me and told me about how they used to love playing music themselves,” Trevor said. “I started thinking that drumming would be helpful for veterans going through what I’m going through and I started a non-profit called Warrior Beat.”

Warrior Beat promotes healing, wellbeing, fellowship, and reintegration for military veterans through facilitated group drumming. Trevor started the non-profit and was soon traveling all over the country to train VA staff how to use drumming and meditative practices to help veterans. 

But something was still missing from Trevor’s life. 

In 2019, I had been sober for three years but God was not really a part of my recovery program. I ended up relapsing and getting my third DUI, which required extensive jail time,” Trevor shared.

When he got out of jail, he finally turned to a new higher power. 

“I had started this non-profit that was doing great work but I was falling apart personally,” Trevor said. “I remember sitting on my back porch and I started to pray. I said, ‘I can’t do this without you and I need your guidance,’ and it was the first time I had an overwhelming spiritual experience. I felt the presence of Christ with me at that moment urging me to come back to the faith.”

Shortly after this, Trevor experienced another miraculous instance of grace.

“I received the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time in 15 years and then received the Eucharist. I felt that my obsession for drinking was lifted. When I surrendered and allowed God to enter my heart it was just gone. My body miraculously recovered in a matter of hours and I had no shaking and no desire to drink,” Trevor said.

With a newfound enthusiasm for infusing recovery with his Catholic faith, one of his Catholic friends connected him with Catholic in Recovery.

“This is exactly what we were looking for and we started attending Catholic in Recovery meetings online throughout the pandemic,” Trevor said. “These meetings meet my spiritual needs as well as my recovery needs.”

Now Trevor’s higher power is none other than Jesus Christ and his recovery journey entails the sacraments, prayer, meditation, and the company of fellow Catholics.

“Living the Catholic moral life requires discipline and prayer and making reception of the Eucharist a priority,” Trevor said. “And through Catholic in Recovery, I’m able to connect with like-minded Catholics who have experienced the same addiction that I have.”