The Advantages Of Music Therapy In Addiction Recovery

Long before we acquired language, humans were communicating through music. We have an instinctive connection with song, dance and rhythm that makes these an integral part of celebrations, rituals, and everyday life. Countless generations of people have benefited from the advantages of music therapy. It soothes the sick, lifts up the vulnerable, and gets us through tough times.

Addiction treatment has evolved dramatically over the last few decades. Inpatient treatment facilities were once no more than holding cells for people who were deemed to be “no good”, and who had to be kept away from society. Rehab evolved into individual and group therapy, and more recently, we went back to our musical roots and started incorporating music therapy in addiction treatment programs.

Music Therapy In Addiction Recovery

There are many healing benefits of music addiction therapy. It provides a way for people to communicate without words, and it can get them in touch with their own emotions. It can be an uplifting, cathartic experience for those who take part.

Addiction Treatment: What Is Music Therapy?

The American Music Therapy Association defines music therapy as “the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship.” 

The process begins with an assessment of the individual to determine what their strengths, challenges and goals are. Over the course of the music therapy program, the client is guided through the process of using singing, dance, instrumental music and music creation to address their physical, emotional cognitive and social needs.

Music Therapy As An Addiction Treatment Tool

Music Therapy As An Addiction Treatment Tool

Addiction is a complex condition that requires a highly individualized approach to treatment. Music therapy alone is usually not enough to get you through rehab, but it can be a very effective component of an overall addiction treatment plan.

Music therapy for addiction treatment evolves as you progress through the stages of recovery. In the early days, when you are new to addiction recovery and still trying to find your way around the rehab facility, you may experience a whirlpool of emotions. During this time, music can be used as a safe way to express fear, anger, frustration, resentment toward loved ones, and other emotions that are potentially destructive.

For most people, the biggest element of addiction treatment is individual therapy. This is where you have one-on-one time with a counsellor to discuss sensitive areas of your life that you are not comfortable discussing in front of other people. 

It is these elements of your life that may have played a significant role in your path to and through addiction. If like many people, you are not comfortable talking to a complete stranger about difficult things, music therapy can help draw out those emotions.

One of the advantages of music therapy for addiction treatment is that it can serve as a launchpad for discussion with your counsellor. By talking about what you are doing in your music therapy sessions, you can build a relationship of trust with your counsellor, and relate your emotions with music to your emotions when you are trying to address those troubling areas in your life.

Another key element of music therapy – and one that should not be underestimated – is that it can be enjoyable. Addiction treatment is hard. Group and individual therapy can be draining and overwhelming. However, music therapy gives you an opportunity to just let yourself have some fun.

Applying Music Therapy Principles When Rehab Is Over

Applying Music Therapy Principles When Rehab Is Over

One of the beautiful things about music is that everyone has access to it. When your time in rehab is done and you return home, music can be a powerful tool in helping you make the transition back to the real world. 

Some benefits of using music during the post-rehab phase of recovery include the following:

  • Unlike the world of rehab in which almost every moment of your day is scheduled, when you are back home you may find yourself with great swathes of time to manage. This can be overwhelming, especially for those who do not have a job to go to. By using some of what you learned in your music therapy sessions – for example, by dancing or creating some music of your own – you can fill up that time in a productive manner.
  • One of the biggest triggers for relapse is stress. Being in rehab, you are protected from being knocked around by life. When you are back home, like it or not, stressful things are going to happen. By listening to music, dancing, or playing an instrument – even a makeshift instrument constructed from everyday household items – you can boost your dopamine levels in a natural, healthy way, feel good about yourself and reduce your stress levels.
  • Recovery can be a lonely place if your pre-recovery social network consisted entirely of people who used drugs or alcohol with you. Even if you become part of a support group and form friendships there, you may still find yourself in a position of feeling lonely. Music can make you feel connected and less alone.

Related article: The Advantages of a Growth Mindset for Addiction Recovery

The Benefits Of Music Therapy for Addictions Treatment 

The healing benefits of music therapy vary from person to person. Everyone is different, and everyone will derive their own unique gains from using music as a therapy tool. Not everybody likes to dance, but the person who doesn’t like to dance might instead enjoy participating in a drum circle. Some people play instruments; those who don’t may enjoy singing, or unleashing their poetic skills and writing some lyrics.

The key thing to remember is that you do not have to have any musical experience or level of proficiency in order to benefit from music therapy. This method of treatment is as universal as music itself.

The Benefits Of Music Therapy for Addictions Treatment 

The many benefits of music therapy include the following:

  • It provides a means of communication for those with impaired communication abilities, such as people with autism
  • It is a great stress reliever
  • It can alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Music can be used as a tool to facilitate meditation, especially when it has a strong, regular beat
  • There may be physical health benefits to the use of music: there is evidence that it could reduce blood pressure, alleviate chronic pain, and boost the immune system
  • Cognitive benefits: music can improve your ability to maintain concentration on a task, and it can lessen the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
  • It’s a great way to combat the twin challenges of boredom and loneliness
  • By participating in music therapy, you can attain a more optimistic state of mind that endures after the therapy session has come to an end

Getting The Most Out Of Music Therapy

Music therapy is a highly interactive activity: the more you participate, the more benefit you will derive. Here are some things that you can bear in mind to derive maximum gain:

  • Don’t worry about your level of ability, or even about whether you like music to begin with. Be open to the process, and you will discover methods of participating that you can relate to.
  • Remember, your music therapist is an accredited professional who is experienced in both music and therapy. Like the rest of your treatment team, the music therapist is committed to providing a safe environment in which you can express yourself.
  • Don’t worry if you do not respond to the music therapy techniques that others find beneficial. Your relationship with music is a deeply personal one, and what works for one person won’t necessarily work for everyone.
  • By keeping a journal of your music therapy experiences, you can track the activities you have participated in and how you responded to them. You can also choose to take your journal to your individual counselling sessions if there is anything if there that you would like to explore.
  • The healing benefits of music therapy extend to the body: moving to music is an effective and enjoyable form of physical activity.
  • As you participate in your music therapy activities, you can think of ways to continue with this work at home. Once you have left rehab, you may consider seeking the services of a local music therapist, but there are some things that you will be able to start doing at home right away.

A Word Of Caution

As you explore music as a means of therapy, it is important to acknowledge that there is some specific music that you may associate with your drug or alcohol use. They may be connections that you are immediately aware of, but they could also be subconscious associations that will surface as your therapy progresses. 

Your music therapist is there to help you through these difficulties. It is important that you communicate these past connections to music as they rise to the surface. In time, when you are secure in your sobriety, you may be able to associate your old favourite songs with new memories, but the rehab phase of recovery is a great time to branch out and discover music in brand new ways.

At 1000 Islands Addiction Rehab & Treatment Centre, music therapy is an integral part of our addiction treatment programs. Like all other aspects of our programming, your music therapy will be customized just for you, and it will be adapted as you progress through recovery. To learn more, call us at 855-601-0555.

Related article: Benefits of Group Therapy During Addiction Treatment


Benefits of Group Therapy During Addiction Treatment

Group treatment provides many benefits to those who may be in addiction treatment. People who abuse substances are more likely to remain abstinent and committed to recovery when treatment is provided in groups. Some of the benefits you tend to gain from group addiction treatments include identification, affiliation, confrontation, support, and gratification. 

Also, it has been found that group counselling is efficient at addressing anxiety, depression, denial, isolation, shame, character pathology, and temporary cognitive impairment. These factors and the benefits of group therapy sessions provide an excellent and adequate opportunity for addiction treatment.

Furthermore, group therapy immerses you into many different experiences — from expressive arts therapy and skills development to cognitive behavioural therapy groups. In simplest terms, group therapy comprises therapy sessions that focus on reducing symptoms and helping two or more individuals to recover.

Group therapy is a vital component of any comprehensive addiction treatment program. It offers clients the ability to access support and encouragement from the community surrounding them in a residential treatment facility. The natural sense humans have to assemble and to lean on people around them makes group therapy a potent tool in treating substance abuse.

If you are recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction, you may question the value of participating in group therapy. It may be tough enough for you to seek help and open up to a single counsellor or therapist, let alone bare your soul to a small group of people. You may worry that you will not have enough time to discuss your thoughts and ideas. For some people, they agonize over having to share personal information with perfect strangers.

However, with group therapy for addiction treatment, it’s all worth it. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of group therapy during addiction treatment. Before we proceed, let’s take a look at the definition of group therapy.

What is Group Therapy?

What is Group Therapy

Group therapy is a specific form of counselling used to treat psychological disorders, including substance abuse and addiction. Typically, it involves regular sessions where therapists work with several individuals who are being treated for the same substance abuse issue. 

Participants in group therapy treatments take turns discussing their feelings, struggles, experiences, and sobriety goals. Sometimes, these groups may be focused on a particular recovery topic. An example is how to recognize and avoid triggers. Other times, they may focus on general topics such as how to manage complicated peer, work, family or other relationships.

Related article: How To Help A Loved One In Recovery

Many people benefit from peer support in group therapy. In fact, it has been a core aspect of drug and alcohol addiction recovery for several decades, with effective results. Going forward, we’ll discuss the benefits of group therapy for addiction treatment.

Benefits of Group Therapy for Addiction Treatment

One of the most significant benefits of group therapy for addiction recovery is that it offers an avenue to bond with others. It also provides a platform to create a fictional support system for the post-treatment phase. 

Group therapy is often undertaken in conjunction with individual therapy. This is because it offers several unique benefits that are hard to achieve in a one-on-one session with a therapist. Benefits of group therapy for addiction treatment include:

You will meet people dealing with similar situations

One of the top reasons to consider group therapy is that it gives you the privilege to meet people similar to you. People who are dealing with the same addictions as you are more likely to understand you better. Meeting this category of people can help you realize you’re not alone. Some groups may even focus on a specific life event. 

A good example is the grief and loss support group where others assist people with specific mental health diagnoses. An example of such is bipolar or anxiety disorder. Usually, people find it helpful to receive not only professional support but general support too. For instance, seeing how others – with different experiences and styles – work through similar problems. 

You will be more stimulated to change

Many people have been to addiction rehab sessions ready to make a change with no approach or method. As a result, they find it challenging to figure out exactly how to get themselves to change for good. In a group therapy setting, this isn’t something to worry about. 

You’ll not only hear how people have strived hard but also how they have overcome past challenges. Ultimately, team support and encouragement can play a cheerleading role. Also, this can provide positive reinforcement as you passionately work toward your goals.

It will boost your relationship with others

group therapy boosts relationship

During group therapy, members can provide feedback on how they see you. Sometimes, they talk about their experience relating to you and how what you say makes them feel. This feedback has often proven to be supportive in boosting addiction recovery. 

However, such feedback is better appreciated when it comes in a safe and supportive environment. This will help you understand yourself and your relationships better. It will also allow you to adjust your behavioural acts to be more productive. In a therapy group, you benefit from the feedback of an individual therapist and the entire group.

You will get support from like-minded people

When going through difficult times, having other witnesses to validate your experience is significant. Generally, being able to tell your story to others can be empowering. This helps you create a narrative in which you effectively maneuver adversity and thus enhance your experience. 

A benefit of group therapy is that it offers adequate support to help you understand yourself better. Sometimes, during addiction treatment, this can make all the difference. 

It helps you become more aware of your immediate needs

Another benefit of group therapy for addiction treatment is that it helps you become aware of your own needs and feelings. More importantly, it provides a safe platform for expressing them. Our group session regularly allows members to discern how they feel during each session and talk about it.

Although many people find it difficult to know how they feel while interacting, they get better with time. Usually, it can be challenging to be self-connected when connecting with others. Nevertheless, continuous communication will help boost your connection with others.

Types of Addiction Treatment Techniques

Many options have been successful in treating drug and substance addiction, including:

  • Behavioural counselling
  • Medication
  • Medical devices and applications used to treat withdrawal symptoms
  • Treatment and evaluation for accompanying mental issues including anxiety and depression
  • Long-term treatment to prevent addiction relapse


Ultimately, group therapy sessions can be a beneficial tool in helping you maintain your sobriety. You can join these sessions during the early phases of drug addiction treatment or at any point in your treatment scheme. Call 1000 Islands Addiction Rehab & Treatment Centre for addiction treatment programs.

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