Music Promotes Healing In Individuals Struggling With Addiction
Music therapy sessions within a drug or alcohol addiction treatment program promote healing, balanced moods, and positive emotions. Music is used in a variety of ways, from listening to it to actively creating it.
Music therapy can reduce stress and increase a person’s commitment to their recovery. For these reasons, it’s been shown to be useful during the detoxification process, rehabilitation, and within aftercare programs.
What Is Music Therapy?
Music therapy involves “ music experiences and the relationships that develop through them as dynamic forces of change,” as stated by a Cochrane Library publication.
Music can make us feel hopeful and at peace. It can help us feel positive emotions and grant us a space to process emotions which are negative or make us uncomfortable. For an individual in addiction recovery, music therapy is a powerful lens by which to see their life and their recovery.
Music therapy, like art therapy and acupuncture, is considered a complementary and alternative medical (CAM) practice. These practices are increasingly utilized as part of substance abuse treatment programs, either alone or together with more traditional, research-based methods. The goals of this holistic approach is to balance a person’s mind, body, and spirit with a sober life.
Music Therapy Can Help You Heal After Addiction
The reason music makes us feel so good may be due to the way it affects the parts of the brain associated with pleasure. Music therapy may activate certain areas of a person’s brain which are targeted by substance abuse. This impact may largely be responsible for music therapy’s positive role within substance abuse treatment.
The Cochrane publication writes that “At a neurobiological level, music that provokes peak experiences stimulates neural reward and emotion systems similar to those that are activated by drugs of abuse….music has the potential to promote positive mood states, including euphoria, and to enable emotional regulation.”
People abuse drugs to achieve a sense of reward or pleasure, like euphoria. Drug abuse creates these feel-good effects due to the way the brain releases an excess of the chemical dopamine.
Pleasurable music encourages the production of dopamine in a way which could favorably influence a person’s reward system. If a person can experience this boost in ways other than through drugs or alcohol, they may be less apt to return to substance abuse.
Understanding Music Therapy In Addiction Treatment
Alternative treatments like music therapy within drug or alcohol rehabilitation grants treatment participants an opportunity for emotional healing and growth. Music therapy can help a person to have improved functioning on cognitive, interpersonal, and social levels as well, all areas which are often compromised during addiction.
It can be hard for a person to communicate the needs, thoughts, and emotions which shape our behaviors on a daily basis. Learning to process and work through emotions is an important part of the recovery process. Music therapy offers individuals a nonverbal way to communicate their emotional state.
Many individuals in recovery have become consumed by anger, fear, and other debilitating mindsets. Negative emotions can become toxic if not properly addressed and removed from a person’s life. Music therapy can help a person discover areas within their life which need attention. Therapy sessions help a person cultivate positive emotions so their mental health can better flourish.
Benefits Of Music Therapy
Encountering music in a therapeutic setting can benefit an individual’s emotional, mental, social, and even physical health.
For example, it’s been shown that music therapy:
- develops the therapeutic bond between the therapist and the client.
- enhances interpersonal connections and growth.
- increases treatment retention rates.
- increases a person’s readiness and willingness to change.
- decreases a person’s resistance to treatment.
- decreases urges to use drugs or alcohol (cravings).
- decreases anxiety and depression
- can reverse negative triggers associated between certain types of music and substance abuse.
Music therapy’s aim is to teach a person to use music as a healthy coping method. It may also be used as a tool for relapse prevention. The positive mood which results from music therapy is believed to help protect a person against relapse.
Certain positive and uplifting songs may be linked to sobriety and clean living during sessions. In the future, when a person hears these songs they will be reminded of their sobriety goals and the importance of persevering when times get tough.
Yet for many, music is often a trigger or cue for substance abuse. A certain song may illicit thoughts of drug or alcohol use which could precipitate relapse. During therapy, the therapist may work with an individual to identify these songs, so they can learn to overcome these negative associations.
Negative emotional states, co-occurring mental health disorders, and stress are all risk factors which could precede or aggravate an addicted state, or drive a person to relapse. Reducing these influences and balancing a person’s mental and emotional health is a large part of recovering from drugs or alcohol.
Certain activities within music therapy, such as moving to music, can actually reduce anger, anxiety, depression, and stress. Decreasing these negative influences may help a person to recover faster and avoid relapse.
Drumming has shown a particular effect on relaxation, and may be especially useful within therapy for those who have experienced multiple relapses. Analyzing lyrics (breaking down their meaning) and songwriting have been linked to enhanced emotional health.
What To Expect In A Music Therapy Session
During a session the music therapist guides the participant through a series of exercises which revolve around music. Then they provide support as the person copes with the thoughts and emotions which rise up during this time.
Music therapy treatment participants experience music in a variety of ways, including:
- listening to it
- moving to it
- singing it
- playing instruments
- discussing it
- analyzing the lyrics
- musical games
- relaxation training
Clients may also create music, either by composing lyrics or by creating a series of musical notes within a melody. Improvising music through songwriting can help a person express their emotions and other concepts they’re confronting during treatment.
Treatment Centers That Offers Music Therapy
A national sample of substance abuse treatment programs found that 14.7 percent utilized music therapy, according to an article on the subject. Many of these may use music therapy alongside other therapeutic methods in order to maximize the positive impact of treatment.
Cognitive behavioral therapy and contingency management have both been shown to enhance the benefits of music therapy. These and other therapies work to teach a person coping and relapse prevention skills, distress tolerance, stress management, and other methods which nurture sobriety and fight relapse.
Music therapy may also be used in motivational interviewing and motivational enhancement therapy to increase a person’s motivation for change and to increase participation within treatment.
Emotional healing can take time, especially if a person is in need of dual diagnosis treatment for a co-occurring mental health disorder. Choosing an inpatient drug rehab center will likely give a person the greatest opportunity to access music therapy and other transformative treatment resources.
For help finding a treatment center which offers music therapy, contact OpioidTreatment.net today.
U.S. National Library of Medicine—The Use of Art and Music Therapy in Substance Abuse Treatment Programs