Todd ‘Z-Man’ Zalkins: An inspiring story of addiction coming to Kent State


The Long Way Back

Vanessa Gresley

A story of redemption and recovery is coming to Kent State.

The Long Way Back: The Story of Todd Z-Man Zalkins, a film showcasing the journey of one man through the loss of his friend, former singer of the band Sublime, and his will to change his life will be shown at 6:30 p.m. in the Kiva Thursday, Sept. 20.

In honor of Recovery Month, Kent State’s Collegiate Recovery Community is hosting Zalkins, now an author and public speaker, at the screening of his film. Afterwards, Zalkins will host a Q&A with students.

“Todd is someone who has done this documentary and it’s been very well received and very popular and he’s been really excited to share that,” said Ashley Holt, the coordinator of the Collegiate Recovery Community.

The story is about Zalkins’ fight for his life in what would become one of the worst drug crises in America. After losing his friend Bradley Nowell, the former lead singer of the band Sublime, to a heroin overdose, Zalkins is able to break a 17-year addiction to prescription painkillers.

By chance, Zalkins is presented with an opportunity to help Nowell’s son, Jakob, battle his own addiction with drugs and alcohol. The Long Way Back shatters the stigma associated with prescription painkiller addiction and offers a strong message of hope and awareness.

“I think it’s important to provide the opportunity to shatter stigma and this shows Todd is like a normal, awesome, fun, interesting guy who struggled with this disease and is now really active in recovery,” Holt said.

Holt hopes the affiliation with art and music can help more students connect with Zalkins. Zalkins has found passion in his work and it’s important to him to connect with a younger audience, Holt says.

Kent is collaborating with Akron’s Collegiate Recovery Community for the event. Zalkins will be doing a podcast with one student from Kent and Akron the afternoon prior to the event.

Recovery Month takes place every September to raise awareness and support the successes of those in recovery.

Vanessa Gresley is the housing reporter. Contact her at [email protected].