Music Therapy for Addiction Recovery
For years, music has been used as a peripheral therapy in the treatment of a wide range of physical and psychological health issues, including but not limited to chronic pain, migraine, depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder and much more. It’s been gaining more and more ground in the addiction recovery space because of its versatility, effectiveness, and safe practice. Individuals who suffer from drug or alcohol addiction may also suffer from a simultaneous underlying mental health issue, and they will certainly suffer from some kind of withdrawal period as they endeavor to get clean. Music therapy can be helpful in both of these areas to make long-term recovery easier and more accessible.
How Can Music Help Patients in the Addiction Treatment Process?
Therapists and clinicians have discovered multiple healing benefits of music therapy in the addiction treatment process, such as:
- Depression Relief
- Regulation of Heart Rate
- Lowering of Blood Pressure
- Increased Focus and Concentration
- Improved Confidence and Self-Esteem
- Reduction of Inflammation and Pain
- Better Overall Mood and Disposition
- And Much More
Music therapy is a commonly used tool to help patients with serious mental illness better react to stress that can trigger episodes so they can better manage their day-to-day lives. It provides an emotional release and creative outlet not offered by traditional talk therapy or many other modalities.
How Do Therapists and Clinicians Use Music Therapy in Addiction Treatment?
As the value of music therapy is being explored more thoroughly, doctors, therapists and treatment providers are finding more and more ways to integrate this modality into their comprehensive care approach. Some of the more common music exercises associated with this therapy include:
- Therapeutic Drumming – Increases concentration and allows patients to feel a better sense of control over their often-chaotic circumstances.
- Playing an Instrument – Learning or continuing to play any instrument helps the brain concentrate on singular occupational tasks and give patients control over the outcome. It can also help to improve memory, increase self-esteem and create more opportunities for heightened social interaction if the patient decides to play with other musicians or perform live by themselves.
- Writing Lyrics – Provides the patient with an unfiltered outlet to discuss emotions that they may otherwise feel to guarded to discuss.
- Composition – Allows patients to express themselves through means other than words so therapists can get a more intuitive idea of the origins and triggers of their substance abuse. It also provides a sense of accomplishment when a piece is finished.
- Performance – Performing in front others, whether it’s their own material or another artist’s, can dramatically increase confidence and self-esteem and give patients an outlet for their often-intense feelings and emotions. It also provides a sense of support and community if patients perform regularly.
- Listening and Analysis – Simply listening to a mellow and steady piece of music can lower stress, regulate the heart rate, improve breathing and reduce inflammation. On the opposite end of the spectrum, listening to an up-tempo song can increase energy and better prepare patients to face the day on their own. Analyzing songs with lyrical subject matter similar to patients’ own life experiences can help them feel less alone in their everyday struggles.
Using Music Therapy to Help Your Addicted Loved One
Today’s teenagers and young adults are often more receptive to artistic therapies, as well as art in general, then previous generations; this can be true of visual art, music, creative writing and more. If you or someone you care about is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction and are battling toxic and overwhelming emotional turmoil on a daily basis, consider a treatment program that offers music therapy to find out what it can do for you.
- NIH – Music Therapy in Substance Abuse Treatment Programs
- UNH – Music Therapy