Music Therapy in Addiction Treatment

AARC — Music Therapy for Addiction Treatment

Rehabilitation programs offer various types of therapies to individuals in recovery. Among these types, music therapy is one of the tools that many people may not have fully understood. Different studies show that music therapy can provide healing to individuals in many aspects of their well-being. This includes physical, emotional and mental healing which could also be a very helpful tool to help you combat substance abuse.

What is Music Therapy in the First Place?

Music therapy is a good alternative treatment for recovering addicts, which involves music to help individuals manage their cognitive, emotional, and physical problems. These sessions are conducted by qualified music therapists. They design the treatment according to the needs of an individual or group. This treatment usually involves patients in singing, moving, creating, and/or listening to music. According to studies, music therapy provides an effective means of increasing a person’s engagement and motivation during the treatment program, while helping to deliver the emotional support a person needs. It also gives the participants an outlet for expressing their feelings, which is why it is an effective tool in treating addiction.

Individuals can benefit from music alone, but if it is used without the assistance of a trained music therapist, then it is not a form of music therapy, even if the music itself has therapeutic effects. Keep in mind that music therapy in general has formal techniques and goals used by therapists. This is because the differences between being therapeutic and formal therapy is very specific. For example, personal experiences from listening to music can be therapeutic and can result in learning about themselves or resolving an issue. A structured form of intervention that is conducted by a trained, licensed professional trained is a form of formal therapy. This is why music therapy must be done with a music therapist to be considered as a structured intervention.

How Does Music Therapy Work?

Music can affect a person in many ways and according to studies, dopamine is naturally released in the brain when the person listens to it. Music has been used for many years to help in healing and is known for its pain-relieving properties. Individuals exposed to music during and even after medical procedures are found to experience lessened pain and anxiety. This is why music therapy is one of the preferred treatments for addiction.

There are many situations where music therapy is applied. Besides being used during rehabilitation, it has also been found to be useful in specific situations where people are suffering from the following conditions:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Crisis and trauma
  • Substance Abuse Disorders
  • Mental health disorders
  • Pain

It is also used to help treat people in the military, people with Alzheimer’s disease, incarcerated individuals, students with special needs as well as young children. Individuals don’t need to be musically inclined to benefit from this type of therapy as contrary to popular beliefs. All types of music has its benefits if used in a therapeutic setting and people going through such therapy don’t need to create, listen or move to any special or specific music in order to benefit from it.

The Benefits of Music Therapy

One of the best things about music is that it can be used in almost any context. It can be applied in all types of treatment programs too: intensive inpatient, outpatient basis, in a group, and in almost any form of intervention. This is because music alone can ease stress, help people relax, cause them to focus more on their recovery, and help them adjust to the demands of recovery itself.

Music therapy, when used under the supervision of a music therapist, can be very useful. It has specific goals and applications on how to reach these goals. However, those who are in recovery do not necessarily need formal music therapy intervention programs to benefit from music. In many ways, music can be used to enhance moods, lift stress, or serve as a distraction technique to help deal with cravings and other issues encountered during rehabilitation. Regardless of how music is used in therapy however, it is not designed to be a substitute for treating those with substance use disorder undergoing treatment programs. Music is used solely to help enhance the effects of these programs so recovering addicts can transition better.

Since music therapy is a complementary treatment tool used, it is important for the music therapist to consult and work with the rest of the treatment team. This way they can develop a formal approach using music that will be therapeutic to the patient’s needs. Their goals should be:

  • To help improve the physical and mental well-being of the patient by using music to relieve stress.
  • To help enhance their emotional adjustment.
  • To help them develop their communication skills even better.
  • To help them focus on cognitive functions like memory or attention.
  • To help enhance the individual’s social abilities by involving them with others who have the same music interests.

As mentioned, music alone cannot treat those who are under substance use disorder treatment programs but it can be a very effective supplement to it. These are the benefits of using music as part of a recovering addict’s therapy program:

  • It helps reduce anxiety and depression.
  • It alleviates stress.
  • It encourages relaxation.
  • Provides relief from restlessness and boredom.
  • Can help encourage positive feelings after each therapy session.
  • Can help promote self-expression and encourage self-awareness.
  • It helps assist in concentration levels and focus.
  • It helps patients to communicate and express trauma issues.
  • Promotes better sleep.
  • Encourages meditation.
  • Can ease any muscle tension like back pain, headaches and neck pain.
  • Reduces the feelings of hopelessness and loneliness.
  • Encourages socialization with others.
  • Boosts the immune system and helps in healing fast.
  • Helps avoid developing negative emotions.
  • It helps address triggers like self-doubt and stress.

This is why many recovering addicts include music therapy as a part of their long-term recovery programs. Using music as a tool to help in recovery and working with a music therapist can help an individual heal quickly.

Is Music Therapy Right for You?

As an effective tool, music can be a great help if used in a therapeutic setting as it can help enhance the healing process of your substance abuse treatment. To know if this is the right therapy for you, seek a licensed counselor today and explore the benefits of music therapy as part of your rehabilitation program.