By Rick McVicar
Despite a long history of music being associated with drug abuse, music can have healing properties for those trying to recover from substance use disorders.
Transforming music into being therapeutic depends on professional music therapists, according to a website hosted by American Addiction Centers. “Music Therapy & Substance Abuse Treatment,” authored by the site’s editorial staff, touts the benefits of music therapy.
However, “the use of music is not designed to be a substitute for a formal substance use disorder treatment program. It is designed to enhance the effects of these programs,” the article states.
Music therapists are members of a recovery program’s treatment team. Music therapy includes professional counseling as well as providing exposure to musical experiences.
Music is helpful in reducing stress, providing positive emotional outlets and increasing social skills when music therapy takes place in groups. Music can also help with self-esteem when used in private settings, according to the article.
Music can offer “a distraction technique to deal with cravings and other issues that are commonly encountered in recovery,” the article states.
At the same time, music has its limitations for therapeutic use. For instance, some song lyrics encourage the use of alcohol or drugs. Also, some types of music can trigger aggressive behavior, according to the website.
Music therapist Kristen Crouch, on her blog, Rhythms for Living, agrees with much of what is written by the editorial staff of American Addiction Centers. In “Music Therapy with Substance Use,” Crouch lists the goals of music therapy.
The goals and benefits for Crouch include reducing stress and muscle tension, decreasing anxiety and increasing motivation. Music is also useful for socialization as well.
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