Using Music to Support Your Recovery
Danish author Hans Christian Andersen once said, “Where words fail, music speaks.” Multiple studies have shown that music can be a powerful tool to promote physical, emotional, and cognitive change and growth. At Waypoint Recovery Center, we encourage our clients to take a holistic approach to maintaining their sobriety. This includes tapping into the healing power of music.
Ways Music Can Be Beneficial to Your Recovery Journey
No two people with substance use disorders have the exact same experience, but here are some of the ways you can incorporate music in your recovery journey:
- Choose an inspirational song to use as a personal affirmation. Affirmations are short statements that are frequently repeated to promote positive thinking, increase confidence, and boost motivation. If certain song lyrics speak to you on a personal level, singing along can help you feel ready to take on the world. Building Your Recovery Playlist from our partners at St. Joseph Institute for Addiction shares examples of motivational songs that speak to the unique challenges faced by people in recovery.
- Use music to support your meditation practice. Meditation is well-known as a way to reduce stress and promote mindfulness in recovery, but it can be difficult to calm your thoughts at first. Listening to soothing music may make it easier to clear your head.
- Use music to cope with anxiety. People with substance use disorders often have co-occurring mental health disorders associated with moderate to severe anxiety. The song “weightless” by Marconi Union was created with sound therapists to combine harmonies, rhythms and bass lines in a way that slows the heart rate blood pressure, lowers the release of cortisol, and reduces anxiety by up to 65%. Listen for free on YouTube.
- Use a favorite song as a journaling prompt. Keeping a journal is often recommended as a way to build emotional awareness in recovery. If you’re suffering from writer’s block, listen to music and describe how a particular song makes you feel.
- Work up a sweat as you listen to your favorite tunes. Physical activity releases endorphins and provides an all-natural way to feel good about yourself. If you’re not used to exercising regularly, working out to your favorite tunes can make the experience more enjoyable.
- Create and share playlists. Meeting new friends in recovery can sometimes feel awkward, but sharing music you love can help you find common ground. Sharing music you’ve found personally meaningful can also be useful if you’re struggling to rebuild relationships with family members that have been strained by your past addiction-related behavior.
- Write your own song. Even if you never share it with anyone, the songwriting process can help you better process your emotions. Songwriting is a natural extension of the journaling activities that are often recommended as part of the continuum of care for a person in recovery.
- Sign up for music lessons. Boredom is a known risk factor for relapse, but learning to sing or play an instrument is a wonderful way to fill your free time. Visit your local musical instrument store and ask for teacher recommendations.
- Start a drum circle. Drumming has been used as a form of therapy by everyone from the shamans of Mongolia to the Minianka healers of West Africa. Drumming is beneficial for people in recovery because it reduces tension, alleviates anxiety, helps control chronic pain, and boosts the immune system while creating a sense of connectedness with oneself and others. You don’t even need a professional set of drums to experience these benefits—making “found sounds” with boxes, pans, and items from your home can be just as fun and therapeutic.
Avoid Known Triggers
Although there are a number of ways music can be used to support your recovery journey, it’s important to avoid songs that could trigger cravings. For example:
- Songs that remind you of people you used to drink or do drugs with
- Songs you associate with specific places where you frequently drank or used drugs
- Songs you listened to while under the influence at home
- Songs that glamorize substance abuse and addiction
- Songs that make you feel angry and upset
Waypoint Recovery Center Is Here for You
While music can be beneficial in supporting your recovery, it’s certainly not a substitute for access to comprehensive, evidence-based treatment from experienced professionals. Waypoint Recovery is considered an essential business by the state of South Carolina and will remain open to new patients throughout the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. We have implemented all CDC-recommended risk mitigation measures to allow us to better serve clients who are struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. If you’re ready to take the first step towards building a better life for yourself, now is the time to enter recovery.