Drug addiction treatment traditionally means behavioral therapy, counseling, and sometimes, medication. These elements are each important and are proven to be effective in aiding recovery. Most programs increasingly include complementary therapies which are designed to enhance and aid the primary therapies. These include programs for art, meditation, mindfulness, and music.
When music is used in drug rehab or alcohol rehab, it has been shown to offer support, peace of mind, stress relief, and a range of skills helpful in recovery. Taking a music therapy program might help you learn to cope, to deal with pain, to process emotions, and to find outlets that were previously unavailable to you. While music isn’t the right treatment for everyone, it can offer substantial benefits for many and it may be worthwhile to seek out music therapy programs or substance abuse treatment centers offering music therapy as a complementary program.
What is Music Therapy?
Music therapy includes a range of music-related activities including singing, dancing, listening to, and learning to play music. Participants can come into music therapy at any stage, and do not need any talent, aptitude, or ability to play or create music. Sessions may be led by a musician or by someone who is primarily a therapist and will ask patients to participate in different ways according to their needs and the goals of therapy.
Here, music therapy typically askes individuals to broach comfort boundaries, to gain confidence in public, to destress, to express emotion, and to use music as an outlet. Classes are typically group affairs, asking groups to struggle to learn an instrument, to dance, to singe, to move, and to listen together. Sometimes you will be asked to participate in a one-on-one session, but most often, it’s about group sharing, using music to express to a group, and to develop skills relating to emotional regulation, discipline, attention, focus, and finding joy outside of drug addiction.
Music therapy typically includes two aspects, active and passive:
Active music therapy involves creating and playing music. Here, you’ll be asked to actively participate in music and its creation, either on your own, at home, or with the group. This might challenge your boundaries, tackle self-esteem issues, and ask you to broach issues of shyness.
- Learning to play a music instrument, if you already play one, you’ll likely have to learn a new one
- Moving to music
- Playing or making music as a group
- Writing music
Passive – Most music therapy also includes a passive therapy element, which revolves around listening, gently moving, sitting, and talking about how music makes you feel. You might have to choose songs that share how you feel, you might have to talk about that, and you might be asked to sit and listen as others express themselves.
- Using music as emotional expression
- Sharing how you feel about music
- Listening to others
- Listening to music
- Using music as an outlet for emotions
While music therapy doesn’t treat drug addiction, it can help you to build skills that are immensely valuable in drug addiction recovery. You can learn healthy outlets, build enjoyable hobbies, find alternatives ways of self-expression, build discipline, improve your focus, and hopefully, make friends at the same time.
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How Does Music Therapy work for Drug Addiction Treatment?
Music therapy can have diverse goals, often adjusted to meet the needs of the individual. These can include helping you to be creative and to find joy in music, offering a form of emotional expression, offering relaxation and moments to destress, encouraging mindfulness and meditation, building discipline, training attention and focus, building habits, and distracting you from cravings.
Relieving Stress – Most people find music to be at least somewhat stress relieving, in nearly any form. Playing and actively engaging with music also works to promote mindfulness, where individuals have to focus on the present and what they are doing. Acts of mindfulness can be powerful in both relieving temporary stress and in promoting a healthier mindset over the long term.
Building Focus – Many people moving out of drug addiction have trouble with focus and concentration. Music, especially learning an instrument, can help you to rebuild that, both through focus on routines and practice and on focusing on music. Because music can also be fun and enjoyable, it’s a relatively easy way to train focus for many.
Discipline – Moving into recovery requires a lot of discipline. You have to build habits surrounding exercise, nutrition, and self-care. Music therapy can start you on the path to building and keeping routines, staying disciplined, and keeping up habits. This is important because drug abuse can erode discipline, triggering irrational and impulsive behavior. Learning new habits helps you to build others, and building a daily practice of listening to, writing, and playing an instrument can help you to build that discipline.
Healthy Outlet – Finding a healthy outlet for your emotions is a crucial step in recovery. Many people move into substance abuse because they struggle with emotions, are depressed, can’t communicate well, are lonely, or experience negative emotions and trauma. Substance abuse offers a temporary relief, but eventually exacerbates those issues. Music can be a powerful outlet for emotions, even negative ones, and it can help you to process those emotions and move on. While it’s not a cure and it won’t make you feel better, music can give you a way to express and recognize an emotion, give yourself space to feel it, and therefore space to move on.
Building Self-Esteem – Many people with substance use disorders struggle with self-esteem. This is a normal result of substance abuse and, quite often, one of the conditions leading up to drug abuse in the first place. Music therapy is often used to tackle issues relating to poor self-esteem, to build self-esteem, to reduce shyness, and to help individuals develop self-awareness. Music helps people to develop emotional expression, to develop awareness of people around them, to step outside of their comfort zone, and to be both the center of attention and to actively make someone else the center of attention. Music therapy fosters this environment of give and take, where individuals can build each other up.
Choosing Music Therapy in Drug Addiction Treatment
Music is not a cure for drug addiction, but it can be a powerful element of your drug addiction treatment. Seeking out a rehabilitation center or program offering music therapy can help you to respond better to your primary therapy, to develop skills to improve your life outside of recovery, and to build important social and emotional skills. While the exact aspects of your therapy will heavily depend on the program and on your mental health, music therapy can be a great choice.
Music therapy is increasingly common in many treatment centers, and, chances are, you can easily find a program offering it. Many will also offer optional tryouts, which you can use to determine if music therapy is right for you before continuing. Whatever you choose, good luck with your recovery.
If you’re struggling with drugs or alcohol, break the pattern today and start off your new, drug and alcohol-free life. Call 800-218-1573 to speak in confidence with an experienced treatment advisor now.