Music Therapy and Drug Addiction
What is Music Therapy?
For many people, music is a crucial part of day-to-day life. We turn to music, often without realizing, to get rid of boredom, to relax, or to get energized. Musicians know the power music holds, but does it also have healing potential?
What, if any, are the pro’s of music as a therapeutic tool? Are we benefiting from music therapy without even knowing it?
Therapeutic Benefits of Music
The therapeutic value of music is just now starting to be studied in-depth. This isn’t to say music therapy hasn’t already been deemed helpful. In fact, it’s long been a tool for all sorts of therapists. However, studies are beginning to show music therapy may offer those in early recovery some unique benefits.
Because of music’s highly evocative nature, it’s often used to induce specific moods and feelings. Certain scientists are looking at the positive aspects of addiction (what addicts gain through their drug use). Once these positive attributes are identified and understood, music therapy may be a way to recreate them. To put it another way, music therapy might become a replacement “drug” for addicts.
If we’re lucky, we can switch from methadone maintenance to music maintenance!
Music Therapy and the Addict
Beyond the idea that music and music therapy can alter our mood, there are benefits which, while amazing for everyone, are particularly key for addicts.
Meditation is often recommended for those in recovery. Paradoxically, meditation is hands down one of the most difficult tasks for someone just coming out of addiction’s fog. Music can be an ideal buffer zone between “newly sober” and “practiced mediator.”
The key, of course, is to choose music that induces a calm and inward state of mind. It’s in instances like this that therapists, or certified music counselors, at treatment centers are extremely helpful.
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Music Therapy Goes Beyond Just Listening
It isn’t just listening to music that benefits addicts. Creating and playing music is an artistic and emotional outlet. In fact, making music itself can be considered a form of music therapy.
The boredom which often accompanies early-sobriety, as well as intense emotional ups and downs, can be quelled by actively participating in a musical hobby. If there’s ever a question of how to help addicts who need an outlet, music is a good choice.
Wait, there’s more! The benefits of music go on and on and on. It’s a spiritual outlet. It helps regulate emotions. It relieves stress. It helps alleviate loneliness. In fact, almost any emotional state can be regulated by music.
Remember though, newly sober addicts shouldn’t listen to music they associate with getting high. We also shouldn’t listen to music associated with old, negative behaviors.
It’s important that triggering music is avoided until we’re well enough to start building new memories with songs. Once we’re at this point, things are looking good!