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Does Art and Music Therapy
Work for Treating Addiction?

Individuals struggling with substance use disorder often hesitate to get treatment because they believe that existing programs in treatment centers cannot help them. Another reason is they are not open to getting treated at all. As a solution, rehab facilities offer treatment alternatives like art and music therapy to help patients be more willing to receive treatment.

Research shows that art and music therapy can help patients express the emotions that they may have difficulty talking about, which is valuable for medical professionals in supporting the patients. With this in mind, many rehab facilities in the country now supplement traditional counseling with art and music therapy. Those looking into entering rehab may find Orlando drug rehab facilities and other Florida-based treatment centers that offer similar complementary medical practices.

There have been many studies that show how art and music therapy can work with other evidence-based treatments, but still, not everyone is aware of it. Learn more about how these therapies can help in sustaining a substance-free life.

What is Art Therapy?

Art therapy is a therapeutic practice of using art for people who have illness or trauma. Patients are asked to express themselves through non-verbal, imaginative, and creative exercises. To complete the exercise, medical professionals then guide patients to contemplate and interpret the art they have made. This helps the patients manage their addiction by providing a different way of expressing themselves, especially when they have trouble assessing their own emotions.

Art therapy activities include:

  • Drawing incidents when patients were using
  • Painting emotions
  • Painting or drawing during times of anxiety
  • Creating an art journal
  • Creating sculptures

Benefits of Art Therapy

In group sessions, patients view and discuss their work, allowing them to reflect and think of the changes they want in their lives. When used to supplement counseling, art therapy also has the following benefits:

  • Provides an outlet for communication – Art can be used to express what they are feeling at the moment, especially if they are having trouble putting them into words due to trauma.
  • Creates awareness– Addiction has the effect of distorting an individual’s reality, and this can hinder them from acknowledging what is truly happening in their lives and confronting issues head-on. Through self-reflection and time, they may become more aware of what they need and how they may want to create positive changes.
  • Encourages acceptance of treatment – During art therapy, individuals may find themselves more relaxed and comfortable, which makes them more receptive to treatment.
  • Lessens the feeling of shame and guilt – Each session allows patients to freely express themselves and gives them a safe environment to be in. As they slowly learn to accept who they are, patients may overcome the guilt and shame they once felt before seeking treatment.
  • Relieves stress – Painting, drawing, or sculpting can be a soothing experience for patients who may be feeling overwhelmed or anxious while in rehab.
  • In addition, art therapy has also been known to work best among teens, young adults, and women who experienced sexual abuse.

What is Music Therapy?

Similar to art therapy, music therapy is used to help patients communicate better. It can also motivate them to receive the proper treatment they need. Regardless of musical background, music therapy can be used as a supplementary treatment to anyone with substance use disorder. During the treatment, patients listen to music and engage with their emotions. They may also experience a sense of recovery through lyrics and melody.

Music therapy and music lessons are very different from each other. In therapy, there are no expectations of the individual’s ability to play music. They are encouraged to participate no matter what their background or experience in music is. Also, music is used to develop skills like self-expression and discipline, so patients can use these skills outside of a music room.

Aside from listening to songs, music therapy involves activities like lyric analysis, playing musical instruments, songwriting, and musical games.

Benefits of Music Therapy

Individuals with substance use disorder become more motivated and livelier when they participate in music therapy. For teens and young adults, they find music therapy beneficial as it can help reduce psychological distress. Other benefits include:

  • Elevates mood – Therapists see the positive effect in patients who participate in musical activities like songwriting and lyric analysis.
  • Promotes relaxation – Playing musical instruments, like the drums, gives a more relaxed feeling among patients.
  • Reduces anxiety and depression – Patients who participate in music therapy activities experience a decrease in feelings of stress, anger, and anxiety.
  • Encourages undergoing treatment – As patients experience more positive emotions, they also become more open to take other substance use disorder treatments.

Assist in Recovery

The benefits of art and music therapy also go beyond the walls of the treatment center, and can be used to help patients stay in recovery. In art therapy, individuals in recovery can better cope with feeling overwhelmed by putting their emotions on paper and canvas and leaving it there. On the other hand, those who are in recovery can feel more relaxed when they play a musical instrument. Also, the activity helps relieve depression. Art and music therapy are great complementary treatments for individuals with substance use disorder. It is used to supplement traditional counseling and rehab treatments. Since every patient has different needs, they should first consult their addiction therapist if these treatments are recommended for them.


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