The Troublesome Creek Stringed Instruments Company: Kentucky’s Recovery Ecosystem

In Hindman, Kentucky, the Troublesome Creek Stringed Instruments Company, a subsidiary of the Appalachian Artisan Center (AAC), is using ARC support to train craftspeople in making hand-crafted stringed instruments as part of its Culture of Recovery (COR) program. Many of the skilled luthiers being trained are in recovery from substance use disorder, and through Troublesome Creek, they are building dulcimers, acoustic guitars, mandolins, and mountain ukuleles. Through this program, AAC is building a recovery ecosystem in eastern Kentucky by providing meaningful work and a livable wage to over 30 aspiring luthiers, and working with hundreds of others to develop marketable skills in craftmaking as part of their recovery process.

“We’re dusty old woodworkers, not trained therapists,” said Doug Naselroad, the master luthier who with a former colleague dreamed up the program. “But so many times now, giving somebody something to do has proved to be a powerful step in their recovery.”