Music Therapy For Addiction

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Music Therapy For Addiction

“Music can change the world because it can change people.” ~ Bono

According to the American Music Therapy Association, music therapy is

“…the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.”

Well, that’s a mouthful. In essence, music therapy is clinical use of music interventions used for therapeutic purposes.

The Association goes on further to say “…music is used…to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals.”

Benefits of Music Therapy

  • Exploration of personal feelings such as self-esteem or personal insight
  • May invoke positive changes in mood and emotions, supports healthy feelings
  • Promotes a sense of control over life through successful experiences
  • Increased awareness of self and environment
  • Expression of oneself (provides an outlet for feelings)
  • Development of coping and relaxation skills
  • Provides social interaction
  • Improvement in concentration and attention
  • Resolution of conflicts in family and peer relationships
  • Increase in motivation to be engaged in treatment (enjoyable)
  • Reduction in muscle tension, anxiety and/or depression

Music Therapy For Addiction

musician-349790_1920Using music therapy can help individuals overcome alcoholism and addiction.

Music is a very powerful tool for invoking emotion and expression. It allows individuals to indulge in creativity, and engage mindfulness.

Listening to music or playing it helps the mind center around the expression, and lock out harmful distractions, such as drug cravings.

Musicians refer to it as “getting into the zone.”

To utilize music therapy, you don’ t have to play an instrument, or have a background in music. There is something about the act of making music itself, no matter how rudimentary, that is therapeutic.

You can also discover the music of others which represents yourself, your feelings, and your moods. This promotes insight into the self. A person’s relationship to music is very personal, but can also be a shared experience.

Music, much like writing and poetry, is a deep expression of oneself. It allows people to share and contemplate their experiences in a meaningful, alternative manner. For some, musical expression is easier than other forms of emotional communication.

Effects of Music Therapy

A 2015 study on music therapy published in the Psychology of Music addressed the following question: “Can listening to music can increase or reduce cravings to substances?” Nineteen adults in residential treatment facilities for substance abuse were studied, as well as 19 control adults matched for gender and age.

Researchers found that after listening to song which related to their addiction, persons with substance use disorders reported an increase in cravings.

Conversely, persons with substance abuse disorders reported a decrease in cravings after listening to an abstinence-based song.

Results imply that music can act as an auditory cue for emotions and cravings. This can be used to the advantage of persons in music therapy, and reveals that individuals in recovery can react to music in very powerful ways.

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology

Primary Sources:


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