Music can take us to a different time or place, and music can match and influence our moods whether they be calm, happy, energetic, or angry. We even use music to induce certain moods. For example, we listen to upbeat or energizing songs when we work out, and listen to slow and dreamy tracks when we want to unwind. Since music is so influential to us, can it be beneficial to those going through the addiction treatment process and even into ongoing recovery? Experts are saying yes. Music has been used as a therapeutic tool since ancient times. Both Aristotle and Plato wrote about the beneficial properties of music and noted that it was helpful for those experiencing emotional trauma, and even going as far as to say that music makes us better human beings. In Ancient Egypt, they used music as a part of the healing process as well. More recent approaches include playing music in hospitals during surgery and recovery, and using music to help those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease cope with their emotions. After a review of almost a hundred studies on the use of music as a therapeutic tool, it was concluded that music has multiple direct physiological effects from regulated breathing to increased activity in the lateral temporal lobe of the brain.
In early recovery, music can be a wonderful tool to be used in addition to what we think of as the standard addiction treatment process. So just how does music have such a positive effect? Music affects the brain in multiple areas and is a natural dopamine booster. It works with the reward center of the brain and acts as a natural motivator. It also works with the frontal lobe to increase attention and help with planning and stimulates emotions and pleasure in the limbic system. This is why songs can make us cry or some of us are overcome with joy when hearing a song we like. In terms of recovery, music can help people express their emotions, whether positive or negative and can help relieve some of the stress that early recovery can bring. Research has shown that music enhances our learning, and leads to improved performance of cognitive, motor, and speech tasks. Furthermore, music can assist in concentration levels, decrease boredom, and counteract feelings of loneliness.
Music therapy is not just about listening to music, though. Studies have shown great benefits from not just enjoying music audibly, but also in writing, playing, and dancing along to music. Now some may say, “Well, I don’t have any musical talents.” That doesn’t matter. You don’t have to be Elvis Presley to enjoy music and the creationof it. For some, it is a struggle to put their emotions into words and music allows them to create or listen to pieces where the tone of the song matches their mood, or the lyrics may explain something that resonates on a personal level. Music can give addicts an outlet for their emotions without resorting to usual coping methods, such as drugs or alcohol. Jodi Picoult (Author of the bestselling book Sing You Home) says this about music therapy: “Music therapy, to me, is music performance without the ego. It’s not about entertainment as much as it’s about empathizing. If you can use music to slip past the pain and gather insight into the workings of someone else’s mind, you can begin to fix a problem. ”
Music is not only beneficial during addiction treatment however. It can also help someone stay sober long after treatment. Having a way to deal with stress and emotions without turning to drugs or alcohol can make it easier to cope with life’s everyday struggles, and hopefully allow addicts to express themselves in a positive way. In other words, it’s a good outlet for dealing with life on life’s terms. Music can also help to treat some of the psychological illnesses that can sometimes go along with addiction. Psychology Today noted that there is evidence that music can actually help the body respond to antidepressants better, and that music is beneficial to those with depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. It also helps people come together socially, and having a strong network of positively influential people around is a great benefit to those who are newly sober. Connection to fellow alcoholics and addicts in recovery is the basis of our program.
If you’d like to read more about music being used as a therapeutic tool, here are some resources for you.
The history of music therapy: http://www.musictherapy.org/about/history/
Music as Medicine: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/11/music.aspx
The Use of Art and Music Therapy in Substance Abuse Treatment Programs: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4268880/
Contact Clearbrook For Addiction Treatment
Drug addiction and/or alcoholism is a complex disease, with no one root cause. Thus, treating chemically dependency needs to be done so on a multi-faceted level. Utilizing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, the 12 steps, trauma-based therapy, psychological and medical treatment, and complimentary therapies such as music and art are all beneficial components to the addiction treatment process.
For over 4 decades, Clearbrook Treatment Centers has been offering top-quality addiction treatment for the suffering individual, while supporting and educating the affected family members. If you or someone you know is struggling with drugs or alcohol, please contact our Admissions Specialists immediately. Addiction is a disease and should not be treated on your own. Get the help you need today and see what recovery has to offer.