Mention rock and roll therapy for addiction and your likely reaction may be a snort of disbelief. After all, doesn’t the frequent news about addicted or dead rock musicians make the music more synonymous with substance abuse rather than treatment? The famous line, “Sex, drugs, and rock and roll,” was first used in 1969 to describe the youth culture of the day. And, there is plenty of evidence to support the relationship between drug use, sexual activity, and rock and roll music.
Rock and Roll Therapy for Addiction is Real and Effective
Music therapy is not new. It has been around for decades, beginning during WWII with performers playing for wounded soldiers, and is widely used to treat people with various ailments and handicaps. According to the Certification Board for Music Therapists,
“Music therapy is the specialized use of music by a credentialed professional who develops individualized treatment and supportive interventions for people of all ages and ability levels to address their social, communication, emotional, physical, cognitive, sensory, and spiritual needs.”
But, why is rock and roll an effective therapy for addiction? Researchers from the McGill University in Montreal have found that the part of the brain that enjoys music is linked to the part of the brain that derives pleasure from sex, food, and recreational drugs. This means that those who are passionate about music are more likely to get more intense pleasure from food, drugs, and sex. In other words, rock and roll acts on the part of the brain that produces dopamine, the chemical that “rewards” us for doing certain things.
If you turn the equation around, you can use rock and roll as therapy for addiction, taking advantage of the dopamine creation to offset the urge to use a substance for the same feeling. And, it works. According to Wesley Geer, founder of Rock to Recovery, there are over 100 treatment programs using rock and roll therapy, most of which are located here in Southern California.
Here’s another interesting scientific finding,
“Studies show that music can trigger the brain to release chemicals that distract the body from pain. When music reaches the brain’s auditory cortex, there’s communication between the cortex and the brain’s areas that control emotion, memory, and motor control.”
This is important since many addictions stem from the abuse of pain killers, especially opioids. Using music to relieve pain can reduce dependence on these substances.
How is Rock and Roll Therapy Implemented?
There are two different types of music therapy, receptive and active. The receptive form involves having the patient listen to recorded music or a live performer. It is commonly used to improve mood or decrease stress, pain, anxiety level, and enhance relaxation.
Active therapy has the patient play an instrument or sing as part of a group or band. Participation in active therapy does not require musical skills as people can hum, tap, or create a rhythm with a drum or other percussion device.
In both types of therapy, the participants experience the benefits of increased dopamine production. Both types can be given in group or one-on-one sessions. This provides additional flexibility in developing a therapy plan that suits the needs of each person.
Part of a Comprehensive Plan
Rock and roll therapy for addiction should be a part of a larger, more encompassing program. The benefits of music therapy are genuine but are likely not enough for helping a person overcome substance addiction by itself. Fortunately, implementing this type of therapy can be fairly easy, especially the receptive version.
Rock and roll therapy can also play a major role in maintaining sobriety following successful completion of a rehabilitation program. Music has an extremely powerful influence on brain function. Properly applied, it can make a major contribution to a person being able to stay sober.
Learn More About Addiction Therapy
If you are interested in learning more about rock and roll therapy for addiction or other therapy options, contact us or call 877-225-7724 today. Our skilled staff will be glad to answer your questions.