Music therapy is often proposed as an effective method for drug and alcohol treatment that is commonly used as a holistic approach in rehab centers. Music therapy allows individuals struggling with substance use to self reflect and self assess and may include imagery to music.
Group session in music therapy may include drum circles which help to increase non verbal expression and encourage group cooperation; recording their personalized relaxation CD which helps to reduce fear, stress and anxiety; discussions regarding lyrics and how they relate to substance and treatment problems; improvisation on different instruments which stimulates the creative process; composition and song writing as a self confidence building tool and an venue for emotional expression and imagery and meditation which is supposed to teach individuals in drug and alcohol treatment programs coping skills to manage their fear, anxiety and anger.
Rehab and treatment centers claim music therapy, when combined with counseling and psychotherapy can help drug and alcohol users identify the reasons that they turned to substance use. They also claim that music therapy also gives an outlet for drug and alcohol treatment clients to express themselves which helps them in the recovery process and allows them to gain mental, physical and emotional acuity.
While studies show that music therapy has been successful in relieving anxiety and tension, increasing relaxation, offers pain reduction, improving verbalization skills as well as promoting an interconnection in relationships and group participation; is has not been found as an effective solution to a substance use problem. It can possibly help individuals improve communication as well as emotional intimacy with families and peers in drug and alcohol treatment.
Music therapy has been successful in psychiatric hospitals, mental health facilities, schools, correctional facilities, as well as community based programs for a number of years. It has been a useful tool in helping disaster victims overcome trauma.
The goal of a music therapist is to create a treatment plan that includes active music making activities and music selections that are unique to each individual participating in music therapy for drug and alcohol treatment. Musical talent is not required for music therapy to be successful, but rather it requires the will to participate. There is no judgment displayed toward the work. The important information is in the message.
Music therapy confronts issues of control by asking the individual to use a talent or skill, or to learn to use a skill that is different and may be new to them. However, there is no proof that music therapy is an effective solution for drug or alcohol treatment. If you know someone who is suffering from a drug overuse or alcohol overuse, there are non-treatment alternatives that encourage self esteem, self confidence, and self control that empower the substance user to take back control of their life and to permanently overcome alcohol and drug use.