Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast,
To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.
When William Cosgrove penned these lines in 1697 to open his poem The Mourning Bride, he may have sensed that music has powers beyond alleviating savagery, softening rocks, and bending large trees. Drug addiction therapists and counselors have expanded Cosgrove’s observations to turn music into a tool that helps an alcoholic or drug addict to recover from the ravages of his or her addictions. Modern research is confirming the validity of these observations.
Music evokes positive emotional responses that have been linked to the same dopamine reward mechanisms involved in substance addictions. The dopamine-music connection suggests that music can play an analogous role in addiction treatment. Music therapy involves more than just listening to music. Participants will perform and create their own music as a means of creating and achieving individual goals within their rehab and recovery. Recovering addicts will experience wild emotional swings during the early stages of their recovery. Music therapy has been shown to smooth out the peaks and valleys of those emotional swings, which allows an addict to better handle the typical stresses of recovery. Further, after the initial withdrawal phase, addicts frequently report feeling bored. Music therapy addresses that boredom. To the extent that boredom was a trigger for the addict’s drug or alcohol abuse, music therapy alleviates the boredom and removes that trigger, enhancing the opportunities for a successful recovery.
Music therapy can also be used as a form of meditation. Addiction recovery often involves regular meditation to teach mindfulness to recovering addicts. Mindfulness allows a recovering addict to focus on the present moment, while acknowledging and accepting his feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. No one form or style of music will appeal to every recovering addict, but a music therapist will work with the addict to select the best music that appeals to his or her individual likes and preferences.
The counselors and therapists at the Last Resort Recovery Center near Austin utilize all available tools to help recovering addicts, including music therapy. Please call us at 512-360-3600 for more information about our programs to help you overcome your drug or alcohol addiction.