Music therapy for substance addiction treatment
Reaching patients on a physical, emotional and spiritual level
With the guidance of a Board-Certified Music Therapist, music can be used as a tool to alleviate withdrawal symptoms, provide an outlet for emotions patients may be experiencing for the first time in a long time, support the development of self-regulation skills, and explore spirituality – and that’s why it’s such a critical part of addiction treatment.
Music helps reach patients from a different perspective and is motivating to begin the healing process necessary for the journey of recovery. Most RCA locations have music therapy and use it as a way to emotionally support our patients and get them on the road to recovery.
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Music is unique in that it is a ‘whole brain’ process. When we actively make music or process music, it’s like fireworks going off in our brains. Music helps the brain to continue the healing process. I’m trying to help patients find a place where they can not only explore pain and hurt, but also build their confidence and self-esteem and provide a space they can have fun doing so. They are trying something new, something unfamiliar and it’s uncomfortable, but by being willing to wit within the uncomfortableness, they can find growth and recognize they are able to not turn to a substance to help them through it. It’s a blessing to be a small part of their journey to recovery.
For me, music therapy is a way to connect with our souls. It’s deep, it’s personal, but at the same time, it’s a unifying feature amongst all individuals. Music therapy, and music in itself, often expresses what can’t be said. We don’t always have the words to capture how we’re feeling, but music does. It allows patients to express various thoughts and emotions and reflect – and at the same time building connections with their peers.
A patient might come in and say they are feeling calm and content, but when they begin to play the drum during check-in, they strike the drum with intense force and at a rapid pace. This provides an opportunity for the group to share t their perception of the sound and, in this case, it’s incongruence; therefore, it allows the patient to reflect, looking inside themselves to figure out what is going on. The active music making provided the catalyst and space for the patient to express and notice what is happening within them with healthy feedback from peers.
A safe channel for emotions
Music therapy elicits emotion and helps bring the unconscious into the conscious so our patients can address underlying issues contributing to their addiction. The music provides a safe channel for the emotions to surface, allowing patients to have a better understanding of what they’re feeling and why.
Group and individual music sessions also connect music with mindfulness. For example, drumming, improvisation, songwriting, lyric analysis with applications to the 12 steps, and exploring how music can support the relaxation process are some of the techniques facilitated. The beautiful thing about music therapy is that patients don’t need to have any skills in music – simply a willingness to try something new.
Recovery Centers of America is here for you
If you or someone you know needs help with a drug or alcohol addiction, Recovery Centers of America is standing by 24/7 to answer questions and help you with the decisions that can change your or their life for the better.