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Using Music Therapy to Treat Addiction

A person using music therapy to treat addiction

Modern rehab programs have a wide range of tools to help you recover from substance problems. You may have heard about frontline recovery options such as medication and behavioral therapy. However, you may be less familiar with some secondary options used in top-quality addiction rehabs. One such option is music therapy for addiction treatment. Research shows that multiple forms of a music therapy program provide real-world benefits for effective drug and alcohol recovery.

What Is Music Therapy for Addiction?

Music therapy applies to any use of music-based methods as a form of healthcare or treatment. Not all rehab programs use the exact same methods. However, common examples of music therapy activities for addiction include:

  • Games that make use of music
  • Passive music appreciation
  • Lyric and music analysis
  • Music-making
  • Both improvised and composed music writing
  • The pairing of music with movement
  • Music-based relaxation training
  • Instruction in how to play an instrument

You don’t need any prior experience to participate in music therapy. In addition, you don’t have to like a particular genre of music. In fact, the focus is not on music. Instead, the focus is on what music can do for your recovery. You simply have to engage in the process as your therapist guides you.

Increased Self-Expression in Music Therapy for Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Drug and alcohol addiction is frequently accompanied by social withdrawal and secretive behavior. Individuals struggling with addiction often find it difficult to express themselves openly. Some people affected by addiction are unwilling to communicate their thoughts and feelings, fearing judgment or misunderstanding. Others have actually lost at least some of their capacity for open expression due to the overwhelming nature of their addiction.

Participation in music therapy provides a way to get around these addiction-related communication problems. How does it do this? By offering a ready channel for non-verbal expression through melody, rhythm, and harmony. This form of expression is often freeing for people in recovery. That’s true because it helps them access thoughts and feelings that might otherwise remain blocked by the emotional barriers built up over time.

Positive Outcomes of Music Therapy for Addiction Recovery

Research shows that music therapy provides some other important general benefits. Benefits of this type are available regardless of the specific form of therapy in use. They include such things as:

  • Reduced exposure to negative mental states that can reinforce addiction – Music therapy helps individuals avoid dwelling on harmful thoughts and emotions, which can often lead to relapse. By engaging with music, patients can redirect their focus and find solace in creative expression.
  • Lower overall levels of stress and anxiety – Engaging in music therapy sessions can have a calming effect on the mind, helping to lower stress hormones and promote relaxation. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals struggling with the pressures and anxieties that often accompany addiction recovery.
  • A more honest perspective on the impact of addiction – Through the reflective process of music therapy, individuals can gain clearer insights into how addiction has affected their lives and relationships. This heightened self-awareness can be a crucial step in the recovery process.
  • Less shame about being affected by addiction – Music therapy provides a non-judgmental space for individuals to explore and express their emotions. This can help reduce feelings of shame and stigma associated with addiction, fostering a more positive self-image.

In addition, all forms of music therapy can strengthen your commitment to staying drug- or alcohol-free. By continuously engaging with music, individuals can build healthy coping mechanisms and find motivation to maintain their sobriety. The rhythmic and harmonious nature of music can serve as a powerful tool for personal growth and resilience in the face of addiction challenges.

Benefits of Specific Music Therapy Activities for Addiction

Music therapy also has more limited benefits, specifically for drug addiction or alcohol addiction. These benefits are associated with specific forms of the therapy. For example, lyric analysis can help improve your baseline emotional state by allowing individuals to explore and express their emotions through the interpretation of song lyrics. The same holds true for composed or improvised songwriting, which provides a creative outlet for emotions and thoughts that might be difficult to articulate otherwise.

Certain kinds of music-making also provide specific benefits. For example, drumming can help you feel more relaxed in daily life by promoting a meditative state and reducing stress levels. It can also help people who have a history of substance relapses by offering a non-verbal form of expression and a sense of community when performed in group settings. The rhythmic patterns and physical act of drumming can create a grounding effect, which helps in maintaining sobriety and emotional stability.

Pursue Music Therapy for Addiction Recovery at Northpoint Colorado

Have more questions about music therapy for addiction? Talk to the recovery specialists at Northpoint Colorado. We’re familiar with the many benefits of this secondary addiction treatment. We can also help you determine if it’s a good option for you.

Music therapy is just one of the recovery supports offered at Northpoint Colorado. We feature a full slate of additional options. No matter the nature of your substance problems, we’ll help you devise a treatment plan that works for you. For more information, just call us today at 888.231.1281. We’re also available through our online contact form.