When dealing with a substance use disorder, sometimes, the best thing you can do for yourself and your recovery efforts is to push the outside world away. Music and music therapy are excellent ways to recover from a difficult past. Here are the benefits of music therapy along with pointers on a few of the most popular instruments that you can learn to play.
Anyone who’s ever turned on the radio, made a mixtape, or put together a playlist has seen the power music has over the mind, body and soul. Music has the power to invoke strong emotions and invite old memories back into our hearts. Music has been used since the dawn of man to create strong societal bonds, express emotions and heal the mind and body from the inside out.
Music and substance abuse therapy
Music can be used successfully as part of a healthy drug and alcohol addiction recovery plan. In a group session, music offers the opportunity to express, without words, thoughts and feelings that may be difficult to grasp. It also provides a way to focus and push out negative thoughts and feelings that may otherwise trigger relapse. Music therapy has been used for more than 40 years in a drug treatment environment but its roots go much farther. Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital notes that the National Association for Music Therapy was formed in the 1950s and today continues to promote music as medicine in everything from cancer treatment to drug addiction.
Benefits of music
There are dozens of tangible and non-quantifiable benefits of music therapy. These include but are not limited to:
- Stress reduction
- Improved communication
- Improved concentration
- Overall feelings of optimism
- Increased spirituality
- Emotional release
Learning to play
Music therapy is not simply the act of listening to beloved tunes. In order for those undergoing drug and alcohol abuse recovery to get the most out of their music, they must undergo the process of learning to play. Not only does learning to play an instrument teach a skill, but also offers a self-esteem boost for those who may also be dealing with depression.
TakeLessons.com asserts that three of the easiest instruments to learn how to play are the piano, bongos, and harmonica. However, for those who enjoy a challenge, woodwind instruments including the saxophone or clarinet are great options. These instruments are a bit more expensive and require more research before buying, but utilize a full range of motion, which makes them more hands-on and a wonderful distraction when facing relapse triggers.
While many drug and alcohol treatment centers and counselors recommend structured music therapy, the benefits of music can be achieved outside of a group setting. Recovering addicts may find that composing music aids in emotional expression and can be used to control anxiety, fear and anger.
Rewiring the brain
An hour practicing music each day can rewire the brain, according to ABC News. Studies have shown that listening to and creating soundwaves boosts emotional identification abilities and can help people be more in tune with themselves and with others. This enhanced connection with emotions and feelings may help a recovering addict come to terms with the events in his or her life that triggered the addiction or with the negative actions they took before seeking recovery.
While music is not a standalone remedy, it can be an exceptional supplement to drug and alcohol treatment. Music can help lay the foundation for an emotionally balanced life. For those struggling with addiction, the act of learning to play an instrument and composing their emotions with melody offer one step up on the ladder of recovery.
Author Bio: Caleb Anderson developed an opiate addiction after being in a car accident. He’s in recovery today and wants to inspire others to overcome their addictions.
The opinions and views expressed in this guest blog do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc.
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