There are many different types of treatment interventions for different types of mental health disorders that are not considered to be primary forms of treatment, including for substance use disorders even. It is referred to as complementary and integrative treatments. These treatments are not  made or designed to be the primary forms of treatment or used to be the only form of treatment for specific types of issues. Though with these numerous treatment interventions they are successfully designed as complementary and integrative with other therapies. Music therapy is one of those therapies. 

Music Therapy: An Overview

Music Therapy for Addiction

Music is a form of self expression and it can be a very important part of a person’s daily life. People have used music as a form of relaxation, distraction, and entertainment to enrich and enhance their life. Music has also helped people motivate themselves to reach goals big or small and also accomplish daily activities.

Music is predominantly linked to the emotional states within people. It depends on the music and the person of which the effects can increase the person’s energy, increase their happiness, or even make them sad. In this context music can then be therapeutic, which can be healing or have an integrative function for someone. If it is applied by a trained professional it can be even a form of therapy. When it is used in a form of therapy, referred to as music therapy. It is then designed to be a complementary intervention that can enhance other primary therapies.

It is important to note that for music to be a form of therapy, it must be administered by someone who has been formally trained in therapy and in addition to music therapy. This is in order to also reach some set of goals and end purpose as well for the client. Music therapy overall is a formal and recognized type of therapy where music is used to help a person in their treatment. 

Treatment for Substance Use Disorders

A benefit in music therapy is it can be adapted and used in practically any context. It can be applied in intensive inpatient programs, outpatient programs, in group situations, or in individualized sessions.

It can also be applied towards the treatment of substance use disorders (SUD) to help ease stress, induce relaxation, and increase focus towards recovery. It also can help those who are having more difficulty adjusting to the demands of recovery from substance use disorders. 

When applied under the direction of a music therapist there are specific goals and a road map on how to reach those goals. However, people in recovery don’t need a formal music therapy intervention program to have the benefits for the use of music. 

Music is so versatile it can be used in private to enhance mood and help one forget the stressors of the day. It’s a helpful distraction technique to help deal with cravings along with other potential issues which can commonly come across in recovery. 

No matter if the use of music is a formal form of therapy for you it’s important to remember you can always use it as a private form of therapy for yourself. Which still makes it beneficial. Remember though, music therapy is not designed to be a substituted for a formal substance use disorder treatment program. It is only designed to help enhance the primary therapy as a complementary treatment in support of.

Potential Goals

Being that music addiction treatment therapy is a complementary treatment, the music therapist will consult with the rest of the person’s treatment team to develop a formal therapeutic approach.

These goals could include in an therapeutic approach:

  • Improving physical health and mental wellbeing by relieving stress
  • Enhancing the person’s emotional adjustment
  • Focusing on the development of particular aspects of cognitive functioning, such as attention or memory
  • Developing communication skills
  • Trying to enhance the person’s social functioning by getting them involved with others with similar music interests

The person being treated isn’t required to have any type of background or formal knowledge about music. All they need is to simply be responsive to music and have a certain type of music they enjoy or are drawn to. That in itself makes music addiction treatment therapy quite broad. 

Music therapists should consult with the person to help identify their individual needs. In substance abuse disorder treatment, clients may use music in several ways. For and example:

music therapy
  • Cope with negative emotions, such as anxiety, guilt, anger, and or depression
  • Deal with cravings, reduce stressful situations, and to deal with feelings of remorse or regret
  • Explore inner feelings regarding motivation or self-esteem
  • Develop coping strategies to deal with future situations that may arise
  • Enhance current mood or to relieve boredom

Benefits of Music Therapy

There is a vast amount of empirical evidence that supports that the benefits of music rehab therapy being a form of complementary and integrative therapy treatment has major benefits. The major benefits vary but include:

In early stages of recovery in substance use disorder, people oftentimes feel overwhelmed. Music therapy can help reduce the production of cortisol and increase the release of stress reducing neurotransmitters.

It can also be helpful in therapy when a person is dealing with the emotional situations and problems associated with feelings of being alone and isolated with their problems. Music therapy helps give them a relief of isolation and helps them connect with more positive places inside oneself. 

It can be useful in managing and addressing triggers that can often spark relapse. Music therapy can help increase the release of dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. Which can help combat triggers such as loneliness, stress, self-doubt, and boredom. It also relieves symptoms of anxiety and depression. Which helps overall with better decision making.

A lot of the time people in recovery from alcohol abuse or substance abuse feel they will find nothing enjoyable in life without their addiction. Though, through music therapy many found music to be an enjoyable and exciting escape.
Music therapy can also be a part of other forms of interventions to help motivate a person to develop other changes that are positive in their life. These positive changes could be an exercising program, learning to socialize more with others, and getting more involved with the community through activities, for example.