Music is often linked to mood. A certain song can make us feel happy, sad, energetic, or relaxed. Because music can have such an impact on a person’s mindset and well-being, it should come as no surprise that music therapy has been studied for use in managing numerous medical conditions.
For addiction treatment to be most effective it should be holistic, which means it should address the biological, psychological, and social factors that have contributed to the disorder. Music therapy can provide an adjunct to other therapies traditionally used to treat addiction. By integrating music into therapy clients can experience a wide range of benefits that support their overall recovery, including the following:Improves ability to recognize and accept different emotions.
When actively addicted to drugs, alcohol, or processes, people build up defense mechanisms such as rationalizing, minimizing, denying, and lying in order to continue their behavior and hide from their emotions. The creative nature of music therapy contrasts these fixed ways of thinking and can help addicts break through their rigid thinking patterns.
Music also has a powerful impact on our emotional states and can provide indirect access to different emotions. Music therapy, especially listening to and discussing music and its lyrics, can help people safely explore emotions and identify a wider range of emotional states. Accessing emotions indirectly through music can provide a more comfortable starting point for discussing and accepting a variety of different feelings.
Self-expression often precedes self-awareness and both are necessary for entering long-term recovery. Making music, song writing, or choosing to listen to different songs can help clients express the emotions they are beginning to feel once they get sober, instead of trying to escape from these feelings through the use of drugs and alcohol.
Having a means of self-expression in turn helps develop self-awareness. This can lead clients to a better understanding about how the disease of addiction impacted their lives, and the choices they have in taking responsibility for their own recovery.
Low self-esteem is something many addicts struggle with long after they embrace sobriety. Finding ways to increase feelings of self-worth will significantly enhance a person’s recovery and help prevent relapse. There are many ways music therapy can accomplish this. One is by giving people an outlet to creating something they feel good about. Music can also contribute to feelings of connectedness with others, which lets us know we are not so different and alone.
Stress can be a recovering addict’s worst enemy. Lack of stress management and coping skills is one reason people turn to drugs and alcohol in the first place, and why many people relapse. When people listen to music, it can help calm their nerves and de-stress, but the trick is finding music that is relaxing for you. Singing, writing, or learning to play music can also become a healthy hobby that you can use to keep your life balanced, as well as a creative outlet to turn to in times of stress. Making music with the help of a music therapist while in an alcohol and drug rehab can provide the therapeutic benefits described above. There are also many practical ways that recovering addicts can get involved with music to enhance their recovery.