Music Therapy in Addiction Treatment

person playing the guitar

Addiction treatment is comprised of a variety of therapies, depending on which works best for your particular needs. Music therapy has become increasingly popular since it first began to be used in the 1970s, and studies have shown that it can be a useful tool on the journey to recovery.

What Is Music Therapy?

Music therapy is defined as a complementary and alternative medical (CAM) practice and has become increasingly popular in a wide variety of medical settings over the past few decades, particularly in substance abuse treatment. It can include a variety of activities, such as:

  • Lyric analysis
  • Relaxation training
  • Songwriting
  • Musical games
  • Improvisation
  • Movement to music
  • Meditation to music

Music therapists can tailor their program to suit an individual’s needs and interests, meaning it can be beneficial to a wide range of people.

How Does Music Therapy Aid Recovery?

Music therapy is often included in holistic treatment approaches that address the mind, body, and soul of a recovering addict. Therefore, it can have a wide range of benefits that may not be physically visible, but help people work through emotional and spiritual barriers to successful long-term recovery nonetheless.

Music therapy can facilitate the exploration and acceptance of emotions.

Those suffering from addiction are often escaping from destructive emotions with their substance abuse, using it as a defense mechanism against unpleasant feelings such as anger, shame, depression, and loneliness. Using music as a tool to recognize, explore, and accept those emotions can help to break down defenses, allowing somebody who has run from painful feelings in the past to confront them and deal with them in a healthy manner.

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Certain types of music can be effective in combating stress, anxiety, depression, and anger, providing an outlet for those emotions. Stress can be a huge barrier to successful recovery, especially for someone who has not developed healthy coping mechanisms after long-term substance abuse. Music can be one of those coping tools; playing an instrument, dancing, meditation, and simply listening to a song are all examples of ways to de-stress and relax in rehab.

Music Therapy Increases Self-Awareness and Self-Acceptance

Long-term substance abuse can result in a loss of an identity that is not tied in with those habits. Through music and musical activities, someone in recovery can tap into his or her true personality again, exploring emotions and expressing them safely. This self-expression will lead to increased self-awareness, which is critical during recovery. Understanding yourself will help you understand how your addiction impacted your life and the lives of those around you, motivating you to change your habits and maintain your sobriety long-term.

Music Therapy Helps Improve Self-Esteem

Music has brought people together for centuries, and music therapy in rehab is no different. Being in a group and pursuing a creative interest will dispel feelings of loneliness and create tight bonds of friendship that will support you through your journey to recovery. Finding a new interest or talent in music therapy will trigger dopamine to release in your brain, the same chemical triggered by drugs and alcohol. By pursuing healthy ways of feeling good, you will feel better about yourself while pursuing recovery.

All of these benefits can enhance your personal motivation to pursue and maintain long-term recovery.

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If you are struggling with substance abuse in Washington State, Recovery Village Ridgefield is here to help. Our evidence-based treatment programs approach recovery from a holistic standpoint, integrating CAM practices such as music and art therapy, as well as yoga and equine therapy. Contact us to speak with one of our addiction experts and get started on your journey to recovery.