The healing power of music can never be overstated. Music has been used in a variety of healing practices. Studies have shown that athletes will exercise more effectively when listening to their favorite music. And mothers are always encouraged to play music for babies while in utero. Certain types of music, especially classical music, are widely known for their ability to enhance creativity and nurture intellect, leading to their use in different types of therapies. This makes sense when you think of the music you hear playing in spas, some doctor’s offices, and for people with autism. One of music’s most essential qualities is its ability to carry you off into a world that you may have only dreamed – there is some popular music that can do this for people, but music therapy will typically revolve around learning to play and properly executing musical pieces that are soothing and engaging.

Music is a type of a CAM, or Complementary and Alternative Medical treatment for addiction recovery therapy. Music helps addiction counselors treat some of the psychological effects of drug use and drug and alcohol addiction. The truth is that most doctors and physicians in the United States don’t have the proper resources to thoroughly treat addiction. Even hospitals that offer addiction treatment may give minimal care for the needs of a person living with addiction, and adhere to a typical 30-day program. Month-long rehab stays, despite their popularity and existence as a standard for treatment, rarely cure a person of their addictions. Especially in the case of opioids, alcohol, and stimulant drugs, years of care could be necessary for a person to reach the level of psychological independence from drugs that would allow them more control over their lives.

Long-term addiction treatment could last for the rest of a person’s life, and can often take the form of a new hobby. Music is a wonderful option for addiction therapy because it is easily accessible, even if you don’t own an instrument with which to practice. The challenge of learning music and learning to beautifully play an instrument is a perfect remedy for people living with addiction. It offers a learning opportunity that eventually sounds as helpful as it is.

How Does Music Therapy Work? 

music therapyPart of the reason that people become addicted to drugs and alcohol is that the brain has learned to release the feel-good hormones, dopamine, and serotonin, upon their use. With drug addiction, though, the neurotransmitters are over-stimulated, and putting out unnaturally high amounts of dopamine, serotonin, endorphins (which are also released with exercise), and oxytocin (different from oxycodone, an addictive opioid pain medication). There are other chemical components of human happiness, as mentioned, but those are the most prominent and well-known two that are directly affected by playing music. Beloved music causes both hormones to release from the brain’s neurotransmitters, making the player, as well as surrounding listeners, pay attention to the melody. Music brings balance to the brain in this way, giving a person in recovery treatment a chance to holistically get back on their feet. Just think of what happens when one of your favorite songs comes on the radio. You turn it up, maybe even roll your windows down, and rock out! Even with slow songs, or love songs, the effect is the same.

Who Needs Music Therapy?

Music therapy is a never-toxic, non-invasive treatment for addiction to drugs and alcohol. Anyone could benefit from learning music and learning to play music. Music is something that nearly everyone likes, with huge variations in proposed musical styles. Not only could anyone benefit from music therapy, but anyone with a full set of fingers and full use of their hands could learn the concepts well enough to teach them to others. Music therapy is a gift that keeps on giving, even after your stay in rehab is over.

The strongest beneficiaries of music therapy are usually women and teens. Treating women in rehab can be different than treating men. Nearly all addictions happen as a response to trauma that occurred earlier in life. For women, addiction is often the end result of an inability to cope with a history of sexual abuse, which is much more likely to affect a woman than a man. Men, too, may use drugs to deal with a history of sexual abuse but are less likely than women to seek out help for their issues with drugs, alcohol, or trauma. Music therapy can bring some people out of their shell, and allow the goodness of medicinal and holistic treatment to help a person succeed in rehab.

Does Anything Else Compliment Music Therapy?

Another CAM is art therapy. This could be performance art, like the afore-mentioned music therapy, but it could also be coloring, painting, drawing, and design for fashion or graphic design. Different recovery centers will offer different types of therapy, some of them art-related, too. This is part of the reason that it’s important to contact each recovery center that you’re considering for the second step in your journey to lifelong sobriety.

Another fun and popular option is equine therapy, which, as the name would insinuate, involves working with horses to recover from addiction. People who are fortunate enough to have the option to work with horses will bond with them. Horses are used in addiction recovery because, when properly socialized, horses are grounding, and intuitive, and can absolutely lead a person down a path to a better life. Bonding with an animal is good for people in general, but horses are particularly good. The level of trust necessary to handle, bond with, and ride a horse, like music, is a challenge that releases happy chemicals into the brain and makes addiction recovery more fun and engaging. Whether you’re working with art, music, or horses, the goal of addiction therapy is to produce healthier habits, and strong bonds that keep the temptation to use drugs and alcohol at bay. And horses usually enjoy music, too!

Contact your local drug and alcohol treatment center for more information

Looking for a music therapy program within a rehab program takes time, and a little bit of research. Start with your local treatment centers, and expand your search from there. If you can, consult your friends and family for support as you make the melodic transition from a life clouded by drugs and alcohol to one where you can see (and hear) clearly.

Content for Scottsdale Recovery Center and Arizona Addiction Recovery Centers created by Cohn Media, LLC. Passionate and creative writing and broadcasting, covering the following industries: addiction rehab, health care, entertainment, technology and advocate of clear communication, positivity and humanity at its best. www.cohn.media

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