There is no doubt in the power that music has over mankind. It stirs us, brings back memories, it allows us to release our aggression, or sadness, or joy, or grief. The power of music has been entwined with mankind for a millennia. That being said, research has been performed on the benefits of music therapy and its power to aid in the recovery of people suffering from a variety of mental illnesses such as dementia, Alzheimers, Parkinson, stroke, depression and now, substance abuse.
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Surprisingly, music and art therapy have been making a huge splash in the drug and alcohol treatment field. Many more progressive and holistic centers have turned towards this creative outlet that is meant to encourage communication and reduce anxiety.
Some centers even use animal and pet therapy as a way for those who are recovering to reduce stress and simply feel the nonjudgemental affection of an animal.
Music therapy works in addiction recovery through a therapist developed treatment plan. This includes music making practices along with counseling, psychotherapy, and other forms of evidence-based treatments, to ensure a well-rounded approach to the recovery of addiction.
Music Therapy History and Benefits
While music has been a favorite art form, probably since man learned how to sing, it has also been an important tool in the development, growth, and flourishing of society. African tribes used drums to communicate messages over long distances, Native Americans use wind instruments to aid in their spiritual practices, and Asian and Greek cultures favored string instruments for festivities and celebrations.
Music therapy was coined in the 1970’s and is considered an alternative treatment practice. Again, it is most often used in holistic treatment but has been shown to present very positive results, and there has even been a specific type of intervention method created around the use of music therapy.
Music is a form of creative self-expression and often allows the user to communicate in a non-conventional manner. Many recovering addicts and alcoholics are often filled with shame and guilt and have years of built up blockages that prevent them from positively expressing themselves.
Music therapy helps users, especially through music that is nostalgic for them, identify and cope with any past emotional trauma, and process it with a therapist or group facilitator. It allows users to:
- Examine emotions and self-esteem.
- Enhance positivity.
- Empower themselves through success.
- Improve self-awareness.
- Increase attention and concentration.
- Build coping and problem-solving strategies.
- Enhance mindfulness and relaxation techniques.
- Improve interpersonal skills.
With all of the high-tech psychological methods and the endless supply of prescription medications that can be handed out to addicts and alcoholics, music therapy is an alternative that promotes health and growth on a spiritual, mental, and even physical plane.
There is a multitude of different ways that music therapy can be used in a group or an individual setting to open communication channels and create understanding. Some of these methods are:
- Listening to music.
- Discussing music.
- Actively making music.
- Music centered games.
- Analyzing and writing lyrics.
- Improvising with lyrics or an instrument.
- Drum Circles.
It can also be extremely effective to, while the patients listen to the music, allow them to draw or write or color, and these have also been shown to be forms of meditation and positive introspection.
Music Therapy as Meditation
One of the most valuable but difficult obstacles for people overcoming addiction is the art of calming the mind. This is especially important because it allows a person to develop a self-created “way out” from stress and cravings, which reduces the prevalence of relapse.
Many people who struggle with addiction often find that music can be a safe release rather than a quick way out on drugs or alcohol. They say that music is the great communicator, people of all languages and mental states can appreciate it. It’s no wonder that societies have been using it as a tool for communication, ritual, and healing for thousands of years.
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Freedom From Addiction
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