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We are surrounded every day by music and rhythm, from the radio in the car to the beating of our hearts. Music is naturally motivating, organizing, and energizing. Even when we’re not thinking of it, music has a profound influence on our emotions and moods in ways that words so often do not.

Music in healing and the promotion of wellness has been used by cultures worldwide for centuries. Since the 1940s, it has been researched and adapted for clinical use by medical practitioners for a wide range of diagnoses and challenges. Music has been utilized purposefully in addiction recovery since the 1970s, providing a supportive outlet through which to work toward physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual healing.

Though everyone has a relationship with their favorite music, music therapy is more than just listening. At Choices for Recovery, our board-certified music therapist works with individuals in our program using creative means to work toward specific recovery goals in a safe and empowering environment. During a session, group members may participate in active music making formats like drum circles, learn the basics of playing a musical instrument, share elements of their own addiction and recovery experiences through songwriting, or investigate the lyrics of songs in order to find personal applications to aid in change and growth. In addiction treatment, music therapy is a way for each person to become an active participant in his or her own expression and healing. No prior musical experience is necessary and participation is always judgment-free and designed to be accessible for all. Music therapy is used alongside individual and group counseling and other forms of evidence-based and holistic treatments as part of a well-rounded approach to addiction recovery.

The American Music Therapy Association lists a number of evidence-based outcomes for music therapy in addiction recovery, including:

  • Reduced muscle tension
  • Decreased anxiety/agitation
  • Enhanced interpersonal relationships
  • Enhanced self-expression and self-awareness
  • Improved perception and differentiation of feelings
  • Improved ability to titrate abreaction, self sooth, recognize and cope with traumatic triggers
  • Improved self-image/increased self-esteem
  • Increased verbalization
  • Improved group cohesiveness
  • Increased motivation