Art and Music Therapy Beneficial  in Addiction Recovery

February 21, 2018

While it may sound unconventional, art and music therapy is being used in recovery treatment programs. More than simply popping on a playlist, listening and discussing music enables patients to tap into their emotions in a completely different way than traditional therapy — the same is to be said for art.

 

Whether it’s watercolor, acrylic, or oils, painting is a wonderful way for those suffering with addiction to cope. Not only is painting a quiet, soothing activity, it allows an artist to bring out whatever emotions they’re dealing with onto the paper or canvas and leave it there. Because drugs and alcohol can dull a person’s emotions, painting can bring you back to yourself, little by little.

 

The Art And Music Connection To Recovery

The use of music and art therapy as a coping method for those struggling with health various issues has been known for decades —  but its use in helping individuals with addiction recovery is a relatively new concept.

 

Ways In Which Art Helps Addicts:

Art therapy was first used in the ‘50s and numerous studies over the years have suggested that it can have a positive impact on helping a patient overcome an addiction. The patient is able to express him/herself via a non-verbal and creative exercise such as:

  • Drawing/painting emotions

  • Incident drawings — a drawing of something that happened while under the influence

  • Stress paintings - painting during times of stress to relieve anxiety 

  • Sculpting

  • Creating an art journal

  • Doll building

  • Road drawing

It’s quite possible that a patient can regain self-confidence by engaging in artistic activities, but the numerous other benefits include:

  • Discovering life realizations through art

  • Ability to explore negative and positive emotions

  • Visualizing changes in their life

  • Promoting long-term recovery

  • Ability to deal with emotions in order to envision a positive future

  • Strengthening self-expression

 

Ways In Which Music Helps Addicts:

While listening to relaxing or upbeat music is not a bad idea, group music therapy is a bit more strategic. Patients are often asked to choose a song based on a prompted feeling or emotion before having an open discussion on the impetus behind their choice. It’s meant to be a judgment-free zone to work through emotions and increase self-esteem. Studies show that songwriting are associated with positive emotional change in patients. It’s also not uncommon for sing-alongs to take place. The idea is that it teaches those in recovery that they can have fun, socialize, and let their hair down without the use of drugs or alcohol. Other benefits include:

  • Reduction of stress while promoting relaxation

  • Makes it easier to deal with emotions

  • Promotes healthy changes

  • Prompts the patient to learn a new skill or hobby

  • Boosts mood

  • Helps with insomnia

 

At-Home Therapy

While your treatment program will offer a more structured form of therapy, there are several ways you can incorporate music and art into your life on your own.

 

  • Try a learning an instrument

  • Cut and paste a collage

  • Take an online music course

  • Draw in response to music

  • Sing in the shower

  • Redecorate a room in your home

  • String prayer or meditation beads

  • Write your own song

 

It’s important to understand that art and music therapy within a treatment environment is taught by certified professionals — not teachers. When incorporated into a regular treatment program, both therapies can help prevent a relapse. The experience also serves as a reminder that life is full of many pleasantries that can genuinely be enjoyed without drugs or alcohol. Maintaining these interests after rehab can help addicts live a more fulfilling life.

 

Photo Credit: Pixabay

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