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Future Health

Music Therapy May Aid Treatment of Substance Abuse

January 3, 2013 

Music therapy is the clinical based use of music to achieve individual goals during recovery from an addiction, and to help manage or overcome emotional, physical and cognitive barriers to that recovery. Music can also be effective outside of addiction to increase motivation or decrease stress, similar to other types of holistic approaches mentioned on our website. 

Music is often underestimated as a recovery tool, yet it can have a great impact on the lives of individuals who are struggling with addiction or depression. Playing an up-beat, fast paced song for example can lift your mood, while playing a sad song can cause feelings of melancholy or dejection. This is one of the clues that demonstrate how influential music can be on behavior, including its ability to impact one's mood and affect. 

In addition, studies have shown that music helps lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, improve concentration (songs with a fast beat), and reduce chronic pain, among much more. 
Playing music also has been shown to help individuals express their moods. One of the reasons music is an effective tool for venting emotions is because it allows the person to express themselves; while listening, dancing, singing or playing an instrument, which helps purge the negative emotions they may be experiencing. 
But be careful what you choose to play. Some studies have shown that that if you play songs that you consistently played during your drug use, this same music may cause increased chance of relapse. It may cause what is known as a triggered response. So find some new music, or listen to music you enjoyed during a happy period in your life before your addition behavior started.
Music is a powerful way to help people overcome addiction. Although it is unlikely that it will be enough alone, its benefits are compounded when combined with other types of therapy. 
Additional Benefits of Music:
  • Create a relaxed, meditative state
  • Brain waves sync and are positively stimulated (similar to meditation)
  • Emotional release
  • Reduce muscle tension
  • Increase optimism and a positive state of mind
  • Decrease boredom
  • Increase energy levels
  • Decrease feelings of loneliness 
  • Help reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease
The best way to incorporate music therapy is to go to a certified professional who has earned the appropriate credentials. The music therapist is specially trained in how to use music to reach each client's personal goals. In this setting the clients are able to create their own songs or simply listen, depending on the clinician and the goal of the patient. 
In fact, you can begin integrating music into your recovery now, with your understanding of how strong of a tool music can be. You can use music to rid yourself of the colorful up-and-down emotions that occur during the first few months of recovery. Often times, individuals relapse because they are stressed and need a way to relax. Music can be a substitute way to des-tress. Another trigger for relapse is boredom which can also be managed through music.  

Check out this link for more information, resources and FAQs. 
About Music Therapy
Search for Music Therapists in your area