Wharf Rats: A Grateful (Dead) Recovery

by Dick on June 20, 2015 · 3 comments

in Addiction, Recovery


Recovery Groups Offer Sober Concert Support

In addition to being a person in recovery, I am a recovering Deadhead. As they say, there’s nothing like a Grateful Dead show, hanging out in the parking lot with the flower children and hippies and dancing to a scorching rendition of Scarlet Begonias > Fire on the Mountain. However, Dead shows are filled with people drinking, smoking pot and tripping on LSD. A slippery environment for any sober person, to say the least….

Now that I’m sober, I’ve come to find out that there are many sober folks still enjoying great music at concerts and there are recovery groups organized for each band, with tables set up outside the show and even recovery meetings held during set breaks. How cool is that!

The oldest of the groups are the Wharf Rats affiliated with the Grateful Dead, named after the song Wharf Rat about a down-and-out wino named August West. The Wharf Rats began during the 1980s and are not affiliated with AA, NA, or any other twelve-step program, though many are members of those 12 step groups. The Wharf Rats see themselves as “a group of friends sharing a common bond, providing support, information and some traction in an otherwise slippery environment.”

The Wharf Rats also have a very active presence on Facebook through a closed group.

With the Grateful Dead 50 Year Anniversary concerts coming up this summer in Santa Clara and Chicago, the Wharf Rats will be out in full force. I would venture to guess that a lot of Deadhead who grew up drinking and doing drugs in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s have kicked the habit and are in recovery now.

Although I won’t be able to attend any of the Dead-50 shows, I may catch them on pay-per-view. I hear some drive in theaters will be broadcasting the shows.

Any Wharf Rats or Deadhead reading this going to the shows? How do you plan to guard your sobriety at the concerts?

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  • Deb

    Saw them sober for the first Time last night! Saw their last show at Soldier Field in the 90’s not sober. This time was truly amazing. As soon as they started playing, my mind and body just started to enjoy every moment. I danced the night away with the most upbeat happy positive people surrounding me. Some sober some not. Once the music started we were all one. I celebrated 14 years last month, I wish some of those were when Jerry was alive, but I felt he was there last night. I just found this blog. Thanks so much for this! Wish I found this before I went to the show! Deb

  • Corisa Gralak-Allen

    when and where is this meeting? I am a recovery alcoholic/addict and a deadhead, and this is something that I need! I need my family the most during this time and this meeting is perfect

    • Dick

      Check the Facebook group above. They post all the meetings.

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