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How Music Therapy Can Help in Addiction Treatment

Music is a powerful tool. It has been used for thousands of years as a means of expression that can transcend language, cultural and social barriers. It can transport you to the past with powerful nostalgic connections and help you identify and experience strong emotions. Music therapy aims to harness these powers and allows you to invest your mind, body and spirit into the recovery process.

Benefits of Music Therapy

Where addiction isolates you from the world around you, music helps put your mind at ease, relaxes your body and reconnects your spirit. You could experience other benefits, as music therapy may:

• Boost your immune system
• Increase the release of natural endorphins
• Lead to better sleep
• Lower your blood pressure and heart rate
• Promote feelings of optimism that last far beyond your therapy session
Reduce anxiety and stress
• Reduce physical pain
• Stimulate your brain

Two Types of Music Therapy

Music therapy in addiction treatment can be divided into two kinds of experiences: active and receptive.

Active Music Therapy

Active music therapy involves the direct creation of music. At Cycles of Change, we use guitars, drum sets and other instruments to help you heal. And even if you’ve never played an instrument before, electric instruments allow you to create music with a touch of a finger.

When clients enter a music therapy session at Cycles of Change, they spend 90 minutes playing with the instruments to help them focus on the present moment instead of thinking about the pain and frustrations that were on their minds before walking in.

By time the session is over, their moods are lifted and they feel more relaxed. This is particularly important for those who are also suffering from co-occurring disorders like anxiety, depression, trauma, and other mental or emotional issues.

“Music therapy also helps with regaining motor skills, which many clients lose after using alcohol and drugs for a long time,” says Robert Ormsby (Bobby O), the Director of Music Program at Cycles of Change Recovery Services, who has over 20 years of experience working as a substance abuse counselor and music instructor.

Receptive Music Therapy

Receptive music therapy is the act of simply listening to the music being played. If you’re not in the mood to actively play or don’t have any interest in learning how to play an instrument, just listening quietly can have a calming effect and help you focus your attention on the present instead of worrying or feeling stressed.

At Cycles of Change, you can choose to participate in receptive music therapy, or you can even perform a relaxing activity like drawing or writing as you’re listening to music. Bobby O states that receptive music therapy is effective for clients who are just beginning the recovery program and are experiencing both physical and mental withdrawal symptoms and stress.

To help these clients relax and open up, he’ll oftentimes play songs on the piano or with a guitar. “Most clients sing along with me by the time a couple of songs are over,” says Bobby O.
Whether participating in active or receptive music therapy, music is a powerful way for those suffering from addiction to regain self-esteem, confidence and joy in life.

Examples of Music Therapy Exercises in Addiction Treatment

Music therapy comes in many shapes and forms, including songwriting and relaxation training. At Cycles of Change, our music therapy program includes drum circles and Blues song writing, giving you exposure to improv lyric and music creation to help you express and work through your feelings and moods.

Personalized Treatment for Addiction in California

Studies show that treatment programs customized for individual patients can lead to better outcomes. While research into music therapy and other alternative practices is still ongoing, it has already been linked to incredible benefits to help improve your overall health and addiction treatment experience, especially when tied into a 12-step recovery program.

At Cycles of Change’s luxury residential drug rehab facility in Palmdale, CA, we utilize music therapy alongside holistic treatment to meet your unique, individual needs. Addiction is a disease that requires treatment to reduce your chances of relapse. Our experienced, compassionate staff can work with you and your family to begin the healing process. If you need help making a lasting, positive change in your life, talk to our team today.


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