Complementary therapies assist other types of therapies to increase effectiveness, efficiency, and outcomes. In addiction treatment, music therapy is not a stand-alone intervention, but works with other proven addiction therapies to help a person navigate recovery.
Music therapy is not the same as simply listening to music, but used as a tool to assist in the recovery process.
Research studies have found that music therapy helps with healing both physically and emotionally and can be helpful in managing withdrawal symptoms.
How Music Therapy Works To Treat Addiction
Many people view music as an important part of their daily life, whether they listen for enjoyment, motivation, relaxation, entertainment, or distraction.
With music being so significant for some, it is no surprise that it also holds some therapeutic qualities as well.
Music therapy for treating addiction was first reported around 1970. It is believed to help people in treatment explore emotions and communicate those emotions more easily, as well as a number of other benefits.
There are many different ways that music can be integrated into a substance abuse treatment program, which include:
- therapeutic rhythmic drumming
- learning an instrument
- analyzing or listening
Using music therapy in addiction treatment is a way to engage a person while exploring barriers to treatment and recovery, as well as motivation to keep them focused while in a rehab program.
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Benefits Of Music Therapy For Addiction
Participating in music therapy in any capacity can lower stress levels, improve respiration, even out the heart rate, and also ease pain associated with inflammation. Overall, music therapy essentially helps people relax.
When a person experiences true relaxation, they are able to focus more easily, let their guard down, and be open to experiences.
Substance abuse treatment can be incredibly overwhelming for many, and providing an outlet to let go of stress often helps a person in recovery.
Music can also help a person identify triggers, negative emotions, and false beliefs they may have as a result of their substance abuse. By using a positive approach with music, it makes addressing these issues easier.
Music Therapy And Addiction Treatment
Music therapy is positively linked to desire to participate in a substance abuse treatment program. There are theories that support of a number of reasons for this positive relationship, and some studies have made specific connections.
Research has shown that songwriting and analyzing lyrics has been connected to beneficial emotional changes for those participating in a music therapy program while in treatment.
Drumming has been helpful for people who are trying to manage addiction with repeated relapses, and many residents report feeling more relaxed after therapeutic drumming.
Engaging and being active while listening to music has been correlated with decreased levels of anxiety, anger, stress, and depression.
Music Therapy At Swift River
In Massachusetts, music therapy is available as part of the intensive substance abuse treatment program at Swift River. There is an entire room set aside that is completely devoted to music therapy in addiction treatment.
The music therapy room at Swift River in Massachusetts offers a drum set, keyboard, and guitars. However, the program is always willing to expand, and if a specific instrument is requested, we are willing to find that instrument.
Residents are encouraged to use the music room, and often impromptu “jam sessions” take place on a regular basis. This is beneficial for those playing instruments as well as those observing the music being made.
Additionally, a musician offers acoustic guitar lessons two times each day. For those who are interested, these sessions are included as part of the intensive substance abuse treatment program at Swift River.
- Journal of Addiction Nursing — The Use of Art and Music Therapy in Substance Abuse Treatment Programs
- PsychCentral — The Healing Qualities of Music Therapy in Substance Abuse Treatment
- Public Library of Science — Effects of music therapy and music-based interventions in the treatment of substance use disorders: A systematic review