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How Music Therapy Can Be Applied to Addiction Recovery

Most people are intimately aware of how a certain song or melody can tangle the heartstrings or bring an unexpected smile. Music has a profound effect on the spirit, so holistic healing approaches naturally make use of it. Holistic healing doesn’t segregate the physical effects of addiction from its emotional and cognitive aspects. It doesn’t isolate the addiction – it treats the whole individual. The results of a 2014 study reported by National Center for Biotechnology Information indicate that approximately 15 percent of treatment programs utilize music therapy.

How Music Therapy Works

Music therapy may involve singing, songwriting, or a discussion of certain lyrics. It might involve simply listening, or getting to your feet and dancing to the beat. According to the American Music Therapy Association, it doesn’t matter if you can’t carry a tune. Simply pounding out your frustrations on a drum can provide a beneficial release, even if you don’t know what you are doing. The goal is to use music to manage the physical, cognitive and emotional aspects of your addiction. A trained music therapist will design a therapy protocol that suits you as an individual, based on your personal circumstances and goals.

How Music Therapy Is Applied to Addiction Recovery

Music therapy is commonly used in conjunction with other forms of treatment. Your therapist might suggest that you create a personalized playlist – or multiple playlists – for use under certain circumstances. One might be soothing and another might power you up and make you feel like Rocky – you can beat anything. You might be asked to keep a journal indicating how certain songs make you feel. This provides a tool that can help guide you toward identifying and managing your emotions.

Some group therapy sessions involve music therapy. Other participants might offer some insight to why or how a song affects you, things you hadn’t realized before. You might use certain music to express yourself, and explain to other group members, through music, exactly how you feel when words fail you.

Music therapy is a path toward self-discovery, eliminating or countering feelings that might lead to relapse and promoting relaxation in situations where stress might be a prompt to begin using a substance again. Care should be taken to eliminate music that reminds you of times when you habitually used a substance, but your therapist will take care to help you avoid this.


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