Music therapy involves clinical use of musical interventions to achieve therapeutic goals such as overcoming depression and anxiety. It is often used as a tool in inpatient drug rehab centers. In the realm of addiction, music is an evidence-based therapy that is popular in health communities.
Research tells us that music therapy, when performed by professionals, can offer mental, physical, and psychological benefits. However, it’s important to design the therapy around the patient’s needs.
The best thing is, a person doesn’t need to have a musical background or be great at music to reap its therapeutic benefits. The only requisite is active involvement and responsiveness. You can use music therapy to treat virtually all kinds of addictions.
Common types of music therapies include –
- Rhythmic drumming
- Instrument playing
- Playing musical games
- Creating music, etc.
How Can Music Help Patients in the Addiction Treatment Process?
Studies tell us that during active musical involvement, your brain releases dopamine – a reward neurotransmitter; the same chemical that drugs simulate artificially. For centuries people have relied on music to promote healing. But, that’s not all. It can even relieve pain.
When you expose a patient to soothing, pleasurable music, it can help lessen their pain during illnesses or uncomfortable medical procedures. The same implications are useful in addiction treatment to lessen the degree of depression caused by the cessation of drugs.
Betters Focus and Concentration
When you are singing or playing an instrument, you have to fully immerse yourself in the process. There is little to no room for your imagination and focus to wander around. The fact that you live entirely in the moment automatically betters your concentration. You will soon notice becoming more resilient mentally.
Also, being occupied with something creative and fun takes your mind off of thinking about drugs or doing drugs.
It’s normal to feel stressed when faced with overwhelming demands or pressures of life. But, failure to manage those pressures is when most people resort to drugs and alcohol and become addicts. The inability to deal with pressure is also the leading reason behind most relapses during recovery.
Music therapy provides a nice outlet to let off the steam and activate the brain’s pleasure center. The sense of relief during music creation busts off stress naturally. Playing an instrument or a music game can release built-up stress and tension.
Helps Build Self-esteem
There’s a direct link between low self-esteem and addiction, according to the research. It’s not uncommon for people to turn to substance as a quick fix when they’re battling low self-esteem. In such cases, music therapy can come to the rescue.
Creating and indulging in therapeutic music gives you a sense of reward. You feel proud of having learned a new instrument or creating a new melody. It gives a sense of motivation. Music therapy also elevates self-worth. It gives you a chance to express your latent emotions. You can better understand your weaknesses and work on them.
A Motivational Tool
A therapist at a high-end rehab center can carefully curate a list of motivational songs. By exposing patients to uplifting lyrics with upbeat music can make them feel like they are in charge of their destiny and life. It’s so much more effective than just giving them a lecture.
Music has a natural sense of upliftment to it. What’s more, the sheer act of participating in creative activities makes you feel better and encourages you to make something good out of life.
An Outlet for Healthy Distraction
As we mentioned, drugs are often a protective mechanism for people to get away from the overwhelming pressures and worries of life. It’s how they distract themselves. With music therapy, you can achieve the same goal without relying on drugs and alcohol.
Think of it as a mini-vacation. And, while it will not solve your problems right away, it will give you temporary relief and time to focus on something good and positive.
Rather than turning to drugs, you can create music. Besides, when you are creating music or focusing on a melody, you simply don’t have time to think about intoxication or the need to feel intoxicated.
How to Use Music Therapy as Part of Addiction Treatment?
Therapeutic drumming uses rhythmic patterns to promote self-expression and healing. It gets the communication going between a group and encourages team effort. In this way, it’s a catalyst for inducing group therapy in a community.
It starts with a short warm-up session where one of the drummers begins with a rhythm. Soon, each drummer joins in with their part of rhythm until you have a vibrant and strong beat flowing. The therapist acts as the facilitator giving instructions in the form cues to the entire group on when to stop and when to start.
Drumming with other people helps you find connections and promotes quicker healing. It alleviates that sense of isolation. You don’t feel alienated. Plus it’s a lot of fun.
Playing an Instrument
We touched upon this already. You don’t have to be great at music to learn an instrument from a therapeutic point of view. It doesn’t matter either which instrument you choose to play. It could be guitar, cello, piano, harp, or anything your heart desires. It also doesn’t matter what type of rehab you are in, whether it is an inpatient heroin rehab or any other treatment center.
The only thing needed is your active participation. Playing an instrument builds new and healthier connections in the brain; thereby making you more resilient against cravings and relapses.
Plus, learning something new is always fun and rewarding.
Creating music involves improvising or composing new rhythms and pieces of music. It’s therapeutic in the sense that patients get a chance to verbalize their thoughts, feelings, and emotions. People who have difficulty communicating will find this most effective.
Meditating on a Song/Tune
This is one of the simplest musical therapies – to relax to a song, rhythm, or tune. It may be difficult for some people to meditate initially, but once there, it’s a super calming and zen-like experience.
There’s no doubt that music can accelerate healing and we all experience it in everyday life. Even science is backing its therapeutic effects. It’s no surprise that health communities and rehab centers are embracing music as a leading therapy.