Music Therapy and Addiction Recovery: What You Need to Know

Music is an art form that almost anyone can relate to. It has the ability to influence one’s mood and emotions depending on the type of music they’re listening to. For example, listening to an upbeat song can lift people’s spirits while mellow tunes, on the other hand, can elicit feelings of calmness and relaxation. The thing about music is that it enables people to communicate their mood in a different way. It can be difficult to explain a mood to other people, but with music, emotions can easily be understood.

There are many claims made regarding the power of music and there is growing scientific evidence to back them up. Music therapy has been shown to help people recover from addiction and is a viable supplementation to conventional therapy methods. In this article, the staff at Calm Rehab, the leading rehab centre in Bali, will be taking a look at what music therapy is all about and how it can help recovering individuals build a life that’s free from addiction.

What is music therapy?

Music therapy is described as the clinical and evidence-based use of music to help a recovering individual achieve their goals within a therapeutic relationship. Through music, the person can manage their physical, emotional, and cognitive struggles. The client can interact with the music in numerous ways such as singing, dancing, and listening to the beat. They can also participate in songwriting or lyric writing to express their feelings and emotions.

The music therapist is trained to use music effectively as a means of aiding the client’s recovery.  They are responsible for determining the exact course of treatment that will work best for each client as everyone responds to music differently. When they first meet the client, the goals of treatment will be established, and this will help guide their efforts. It could involve music creation or simply just by listening to a certain type of music.

What are the benefits of music therapy?

There are plenty of benefits to music therapy that recovering individuals may find comforting. Some of the advantages of music therapy are:

  • Reduces stress levels and encourages the relaxation response
  • Can help lower blood pressure
  • People who are dealing with depression may experience lessening of their symptoms
  • Can help improve communication skills for people with autism
  • Can help with managing anxiety
  • Encourages a meditative state. This is because when music has a strong beat, the brain waves are stimulated
  • Fast, upbeat music can help improve concentration levels
  • Encourages an optimistic state of mind. The person may continue to benefit from this positivity long after listening to music
  • Can help reduce muscle tension
  • Reduces feelings of loneliness and isolation
  • Can help cope with boredom
  • Listening to music can uplift one’s spirituality. Music can be used to help people progress along a spiritual path. Some people listen to music as a means of achieving spiritual enlightenment.
  • Can work as an emotional release.
  • Can help people overcome addiction and become a useful recovery tool.

Music Therapy and Addiction

Music therapy can be of great value to individuals who are attempting to overcome addiction. While it may not be viewed as a primary means of addiction therapy,  it can supplement other types of addiction treatment. The benefits of music therapy for people recovering from addiction include:

  • When a recovering individual becomes sober, they are likely to experience a wave of emotions. Listening to music can help filter some of the negative emotions and invoke positive feelings to the person.
  • One of the reasons people suffer from relapse after a period of sobriety is being unable to cope with increased stress levels. Music can help people relax and enter a state of calmness which helps greatly with stress management.
  • Boredom is another factor that affects people who are in recovery. Boredom can create feelings of intense cravings which puts the person at risk of relapse. By listening to music, they are less likely to think of the substance they’re addicted to.
  • Sobriety can sometimes make recovering individuals feel lonely after detaching from previous friendships/activities. Music makes for a good company that can help with feelings of isolation and loneliness.
  • Music therapy takes on a different approach to addiction recovery which some individuals may find appealing.
  • Meditation can be a highly beneficial tool for people in recovery. Music can be a good introduction to meditation. Music and meditation go hand in hand in creating a harmonious relationship to one’s thoughts, emotions, and actions.
  • When people first become sober they can struggle with mental fuzziness. Music may help to improve their concentration levels.
  • If people are dealing with symptoms of depression they may find that listening to music can help with this.

Services that music therapists provide

Registered music therapists work with patients of all age groups to address a range of cognitive, physical and socio-emotional goals. Some of the services that music therapists provide are:

  • Palliative care
  • Oncology
  • Disability
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Special education
  • Early childhood intervention
  • Aged care
  • Rehabilitation
  • Mental health
  • Neo-natal care
  • Pediatrics