Music is a universal form of expression that has profound impact on people regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, or language. It has the ability to transform moods and can make old memories resurface within a matter of seconds. Many people describe music as a cathartic force in their lives with the power to lift spirits, invoke personal reflection, or even cause sadness. Studies show that music has the ability to heal the mind, causing some experts to ponder what role music can play in recovery from addiction.
The Benefits of Music Therapy
Music therapy is a form of alternative treatment. It is used in clinical settings to help improve the mental health of patients. It can be used on an individual level or in a group setting. Music therapy includes multiple facets such as:
- Listening to music
- Discussing music
- Writing songs
- Analyzing lyrics
- Musical improvisation
- Playing instruments or singing
Regardless of the way in which music is used, it provides those in recovery a positive, healthy outlet to express themselves. Teens in particular benefit from the use of music therapy as it helps them build positive self-image and identity while simultaneously allowing themselves to discover new interests and hobbies. This is often beneficial as it helps fill time that was previously used for obtaining and abuse drugs or alcohol.
Music therapy provides numerous benefits to those in recovery:
- Music therapy can reduce stress and encourages relaxation.
- It can lower blood pressure.
- It can lessen symptoms of some mental health disorders such as depression or anxiety.
- It can improve communication skills.
- It can improve concentration levels.
- Music can help reduce feelings of loneliness.
- Music can provide an emotional release.
- Music can improve mood and its effects can last even once the activity is over.
Music in Recovery
While music can provide a number of therapeutic benefits to anyone, it is particularly helpful for those overcoming an addiction. Music therapy is not the only tool one should utilize in recovery, but it can be a useful tool in managing addiction:
- Music can help purge destructive emotions. During initial sobriety, many experience a range of emotions that can be overwhelming. Music provides a healthy outlet to express oneself.
- Some may struggle with managing their stress levels early in recovery. Music can reduce stress.
- Boredom can be a trigger for relapse, particularly among young adults. Listening to, analyzing, or creating music can help fill time and create new hobbies for someone to enjoy.
- Music can help introduce people in recovery to meditation. It can be a first step for those who may not be accustomed to formal meditation practice.
- Music therapy can reduce feelings of loneliness and depression. Especially in early recovery, many may express feelings of loneliness due to being away from familiar environments and peers. Music can help people feel connected to others and a little less alone.
There are a variety of music therapy approaches that may be used in recovery. Depending on a person’s needs, some may be more beneficial than others. These include:
- Music meditation:
- Emotional expression:
- Group cooperation:
Music can help introduce people to meditation in a less formal way. Meditation has been shown to help reduce the risk of relapse, but the practice may be difficult to become accustomed to in early stages of recovery. With diligence, many begin to enjoy the meditation process and reap the benefits of it long-term.
For some, expressing how they feel can be difficult or scary. Music provides those in recovery with a means of communication. Sometimes, music says the things we cannot find the words for, which provides clients with a healthy means of self-expression.
Music therapy may use group activities to help reduce feelings of loneliness and improve relationships with others. In group settings, activities such as songwriting may be used to help people learn to cooperate with others and work in team environments.
While music therapy is not a substitute for addiction treatment, it can be a beneficial component. Even for those not currently struggling with addiction, music therapy can provide numerous benefits. Music can make recovery easier as it helps people manage their moods and emotions while simultaneously allowing them to feel a general sense of calmness and happiness they may not otherwise feel.
Have questions regarding music therapy at Sober College?
Call 800.465.0142 to speak with an admissions counselor.