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The Story of Mr. Grey: Spreading Hope and Sobriety Through Music

Daniel Rochelle giving a speech
Daniel Rochelle, Jr. with his wife, Krissy. (Photo by Katrine Dunn)

Daniel Rochelle, Jr. was an angelic child and the baby of a blended family of four. He has fond memories of growing up, but many are in shadow.

Daniel’s childhood experiences included traumatic events that children shouldn’t be exposed to, and he vividly remembers his mother scream as she received a phone call about his sister’s death. Daniel was only 8 years old and felt helpless. In an environment mixed with abuse and addiction, he watched men on both sides of his family battle alcohol and substance use.

Daniel Rochelle headshot
Daniel Rochelle, Jr.

Daniel’s father and namesake was a huge influence in his life, his hero and the person who taught him about music. He was a wonderful father but was addicted to alcohol, which caused trauma and fight-or-flight moments that can shape a young person’s life and alter them physiologically. At age 14 and through high school, Daniel began to recognize the depth of his father’s issues.

He decided he would try to live a perfect life through his faith, hoping to influence his parents to get along better and his father to drink less. Realizing his musical talents, he became the leader of a youth worship group, with his home life still tumultuous. Despite his best efforts, Daniel’s plan wasn’t working. His father wasn’t changing.

“My father was a beautiful man. Everyone liked him, but he had his demons,” Daniel said.

Daniel desperately wanted a relationship with his father, so he began drinking to spend more time with his father. They would hang out often, drinking and playing music.

“When we were drinking, it’s like we were best friends,” Daniel said.

Daniel with three of his children at the premiere of the “Mr. Grey” music video
Daniel with three of his children at the premiere of the “Mr. Grey” music video. (Photo by Katrine Dunn)

The drinking seemed to strengthen their bond, but it led to dependency and addiction for Daniel. As time went on, Daniel found himself frequently self-medicating with alcohol. Drinking too much and using any drugs he could get, he began spiraling down a path of identity crisis, self-sabotage and fear. Along the way were many broken relationships with friends and girlfriends.

At 25, Daniel got married and had two children, but his marriage quickly ended in divorce due to his drinking and drug use. Not long after, he married again, this time to his soulmate, whom he had known for years. Krissy, his cheerleader, rock and the mother of three more beautiful children, encouraged him to seek treatment for his continued drug and alcohol use. She did a lot of research on programs for addiction treatment, coming across the UF Health Florida Recovery Center (FRC), the state’s premier addiction medicine treatment program, serving patients from across the state and country. FRC offers a multidisciplinary approach with access to a variety of addiction and medical treatment options available through UF Health, the University of Florida’s academic health center.

The first step down a new path

On Oct. 16, 2020, Daniel took the first step to change his life forever. He called the Florida Recovery Center. He was held in detox for two days before being accepted into FRC to begin treatment.

“When I stepped foot on their campus, it was a turning point. I realized I was really going to have to do this,” Daniel said.

After meeting his roommate and some of the other patients, Daniel knew they were all there for the same reason. These meaningful interactions made him feel he was in the right place.

Through activities and exercises, self-reflection, small group meetings with counselors and many ongoing discussions with providers and other patients, Daniel learned about himself and how to accept his role in everything that happened to him. After being the youngest of the family and married twice, Daniel had to learn to take care of himself for the first time as a 40-year-old adult. FRC encouraged structure and helped him regain control of his life, one step at a time. Small things, like making his bed each morning before leaving his room, had a huge impact on Daniel. As each day passed and Daniel learned others’ stories, he became more hopeful and confident he could handle recovery.

“I realized if I didn’t straighten up, I was going to die and lose everything I’ve worked for — my career, family, new daughter, house — and let down everyone who was depending on me,” Daniel said. “I was a very likeable guy, but in the shadows, I was struggling.”

Daniel was a people-pleaser who could never say no. He made those around him happy, but deep down, he wasn’t able to do the same for himself. He made his treatment process a personal challenge and remembers telling Scott Teitelbaum, MD, psychiatrist and addiction medicine specialist at UF Health and medical director at the FRC, that his life was riding on it and he was ready to be open and honest.

Daniel with Scott Teitelbaum, MD
Daniel with Scott Teitelbaum, MD.

“Whatever you want to know, I’ll tell the uncut truth,” Daniel told him.

Daniel found encouragement through the serenity prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” After about 45 days, Daniel went home to his wife and children to a new lifestyle, outlook and sobriety.

Daniel said he almost didn’t know how to live after leaving FRC, with a very real fear of the unknown because he had been so protected there.

“I went to FRC on my own free will,” he said, “but it was my free will that had gotten me in trouble to begin with.”

Daniel had to learn to fill his time by replacing old habits, leaning on his support system and overcoming his tendency to self-sabotage. He took small steps each day, like journaling, writing gratitude statements and listing six manageable tasks he could accomplish that day.

A fresh start through music

Seeing himself in a new light, Daniel again sought strength in music. He became very involved in Cross Point Church of God and became its music director. He reprogrammed his thoughts, keeping his wife and family at the forefront, and eventually began to believe he was worthy, deserving and good enough.

His marriage strengthened, and he had new motivation for sustained sobriety, born from fear.

“One of my biggest fears was for my children to see their father be dominated by something every day,” Daniel said. “I didn’t want that to be my legacy for them. I wanted them to see a champion.”

After four years of sobriety, he has been able to do that, giving his kids a strong role model, father and friend to look up to. Gaining inspiration from music, Daniel formed a band and now focuses on songwriting and producing music.

Daniel Rochelle, Jr.

Ten years ago, he wrote “Mr. Grey,” recording the song in 2023 and releasing its music video a year later. The song highlights Daniel’s childhood trauma, focusing on adverse childhood experiences and digging into how fight-or-flight experiences can affect a child’s brain and faculties. In the video, Mr. Grey has light and dark characters, one on each shoulder, representing our best and worst impulses.

“Mr. Grey is basically a person who became grey between the good karma, choices and angel on one shoulder and the bad karma, choices and darkness on the other shoulder. Everyone is a culmination of both. When you bring the two together, you get Mr. Grey,” Daniel explains.

Music has been the gift that allows Daniel to spread his message to audiences he might not have reached otherwise. He is grateful for the grace to maintain a healthy, sober lifestyle, as well as the opportunity to give hope to those struggling. His goal is to help them understand we are bigger, stronger, and more beautiful and capable than we give ourselves credit for.

He credits FRC with his life reversal, offering advice to those entering treatment: “Keep an open mind, be willing to learn about yourself, put in the effort and trust the process. FRC saved my life and it can save yours, if you’ll allow it.”

Daniel considers himself wealthy in love, wisdom, peace, joy, strength and focus, with “one hell of a wife and a family full of cool people.” He hopes he can continue to help people through difficult times.

“I have found my purpose through my addiction and am living my dream, through what was once a nightmare,” he said.

About the author

For the media

Media contact

Peyton Wesner
Communications Manager for UF Health External Communications
pwesner@ufl.edu (352) 273-9620