Music Therapy and Addiction Recovery in Pennsylvania

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Elizabeth Drew, MD
Last Updated: June 28, 2022

There are many types of treatment offered at alcohol and drug rehab centers in and around Philadelphia, and music therapy is one of them. It has been shown to have so many great benefits during the recovery process. There are a lot of people in our area who are suffering because of their addictions. But through the use of music therapy, they can find a strength and resolve to recover that they never knew they had.

Music has healing properties. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’re going through, there’s always some type of music that helps you get by. Everyone has different preferences but there is typically a song or artist to match whatever is going on in your life.

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Similarly, music brings people from all walks of life together. It can provide a common bond between groups that might never spend time together otherwise. There is something special about the shared appreciation for a certain musician or type of music.

There is also the power of actually playing or writing music. The wide range of instruments available, from guitars to hand drums, pianos to your very own voice, offers you plenty of ways to express yourself. Musical instruments offer you a unique way to explore your experience even if you aren’t the best at playing them.

There isn’t a part of you that music can’t affect, from your body to your mind to your soul. Music therapy for addiction harnesses the powers of all the different ways you can experience music. It blends these aspects and offers a way to help people heal using the melodies and rhythms of sound.

Music Therapy and Addiction Recovery in Pennsylvania

What is Music Therapy for Addiction?

According to the American Music Therapy Association, music therapy is the clinical practice of using music interventions within a therapeutic environment. Music therapists are trained to work with the cognitive and emotional needs of patients through the use of music.

Music therapy can take place on both an individual and group therapy level. Some of the approaches used in music therapy include:

  • Listening to music
  • Creating songs, whether written or improvised
  • Singing along with songs
  • Moving or dancing to music

Music therapy isn’t as simple as sitting around, listening to music, and talking about any feelings that come up, though. Music therapists incorporate a goal-oriented approach to therapy, much like cognitive behavioral therapy. It’s the interactive approach of music therapy for addiction that sets it apart from other methods.

For example, traditional talk therapy requires patients to work through the challenges they bring to their sessions. But a music therapist might ask their patient to write down some lyrics expressing how they feel. This allows for a more reflective approach to treatment, both while the patient writes their lyrics then again when they discuss those lyrics with their therapist.

How is Music Therapy Used During Drug and Alcohol Rehab?

When you first hear about it, you might think that music therapy is just another way for an addiction treatment center to set itself apart. In reality, music therapy for addiction is a great way for therapists to bridge the initial gap with their patients.

Everyone has a type of music they enjoy listening to. Ask someone what their favorite song or band is and it can often tell you a lot about them. A music therapist receives unique insight into their patients through the use of music. They might quickly learn something that takes a traditional CBT therapist longer to uncover.

It also provides people a way to connect in a group setting. One study of music therapy found both a decrease in the group’s negative symptoms and an increase in their ability to converse with each other. Music breaks down the barriers that tend to divide people.

Music therapy doesn’t always directly address someone’s drinking or drug use. It’s helpful for many of the underlying issues that come with addiction or alcoholism, though. Those who struggle with depression, anxiety, and PTSD are all candidates for treatment with music therapy.

What are the Benefits of Using Music Therapy?

Music therapy is a form of complementary and integrative therapy that is different from other forms of treatment. There is a lot of empirical evidence that can demonstrate its effectiveness, and it has a lot of great benefits, such as:

  • Helping people put their problems into perspective. During substance abuse treatment, it is common for people to feel overwhelmed because of their emotions. Music therapy can help people cope with those feelings and put them in the proper perspective.
  • Addressing triggers that can lead to abusing substances or relapsing. There are a number of triggers people experience that can lead them to use, such as feeling bored, feeling sad, excessive stress and being lonely. Music therapy can help people identify them faster and deal with them in healthier ways.
  • Providing an enjoyable activity that does not involve using drugs or alcohol. One of the common misconceptions people have during recover is that their lives will no longer be enjoyable if they are not using. Music therapy is a way to prove that there are other things in life that are enjoyable besides substances.
  • Addressing negative emotions, including stress, anxiety and depression. Music therapy can help people think more clearly and it can also assist them in making better decisions.
  • Creating positive changes in people’s lives. Music therapy is quite powerful, and it can be a great motivational tool to help people start exercising or get involved with activities within their communities. It can also help them learn better socialization skills.
Music Therapy at Peace Valley Recovery

Substance Abuse in Pennsylvania: A Look at the Facts and Statistics

People are often shocked when they realize the scope of drug and alcohol addiction within the communities of Philadelphia. This is a problem that most people would rather just ignore. But if it is not addressed, it will only get worse.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has reported that in Pennsylvania:

  • As many as 65% of all drug overdose deaths involved the use of opioid drugs in 2018.
  • During that year, there was a total of 2,866 fatalities.
  • That same year, doctors in PA wrote 49.9 opioid prescriptions for every 100 people.
  • This is slightly lower than the national prescribing rate of 51.4 out of every 100 people.
  • In 2017, there were 14.8 cases of neonatal abstinence syndrome/neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome reported in PA.

The DEA has reported that:

  • In 2018, there were close to 4,500 drug overdose deaths in the State of Pennsylvania.
  • This was an 18% decrease from 2017, but it is a number that is still much too high.
  • That same year, about 12 people in PA died from drug overdoses every day.
  • 82% of all drug overdose deaths confirmed the presence of an opioid, whether it was illegal or prescription.
  • That number was down slightly from 2017, when it was 84%.
  • 70% of all drug overdose deaths involved the use of Fentanyl in both 2017 and 2018.
  • This drug was present in more than 75% of all drug overdose deaths among people aged 15 to 24 and 25 to 34.
  • 35% of all drug overdose deaths involved heroin.

Is Music Therapy An Effective Treatment Method?

Music therapy for addiction is most effective when used as a part of a treatment plan. Placing too much emphasis on any one method of treatment is not always the best approach. One-size-fits-all treatment plans are not an effective way to work with people in recovery from substance and alcohol abuse.

Instead, treatment plans that incorporate multiple methods give patients the best opportunity for recovery. These plans offer various ways for recovering addicts and alcoholics to connect both with themselves and with staff and often lead to the best results.

Music therapy is also helpful for a reason you might not think of at first: helping people discover a hobby. When you quit drinking and using drugs, you’re left with more free time than you’re used to. It’s a good idea to find hobbies that fill this free time with productive activities that keep you occupied.

If you played an instrument before you started heavily drinking or using drugs, music therapy will help you reconnect with that lost hobby. Or if you never played an instrument, you might find a new love for playing music during music therapy for addiction.

Music Therapy at Peace Valley Recovery

People often assume that when they go to rehab, they will have to endure a lot of talk therapy in individual and group sessions. While that is an important part of the recovery process, there is so much more to experience through other types of treatment. Music therapy has shown to be an excellent way to foster sobriety and abstinence.

At Peace Valley Recovery, we want more people to find out what it means to be in recovery. Do you need more information about our addiction treatment program near Philadelphia? Please contact us today.