How Art and Music Therapy Can Help You Work Through Addiction
This week’s guest writer and creator of selfcaring.info, Brad Krause, shares with our community how research-based creative therapies like art and music therapy can help you work through addiction.
About the author: After college, Brad Krause jumped straight into the corporate world at the headquarters of a popular retail company. What started as a dream job soured quickly. After four years of working 15-hour days and neglecting his health, he decided enough was enough. Through aiding a friend during a tough time, Brad discovered his real calling: helping people implement self-care practices that improve their overall wellbeing. He created selfcaring.info to share his perspective and the resources he’s accumulated with others.
Often, deep emotional pain is at the root of drug and alcohol addiction. For example, traumas like sexual or physical abuse, growing up as an orphan, or the death of a parent or sibling, among a thousand other sources of pain, can influence present behavior.
Though sometimes they can numb the here-and-now, unfortunately, drugs have a tendency to compound the ache, building up years of dread and worry and sending your neurochemical levels (and thus your mood) off-kilter.
What’s worse is people who wrestle with addiction rarely feel like they have an outlet for expressing the anxieties they’re hoping to rid themselves of, and so the problem deepens and deepens.
In an effort to proactively address the root of the hurt, drug counselors introduced art and music therapy for people who struggle with addiction. The idea is to receive guidance, build trust with a safe outlet, and find some consolation through self-expression and an opportunity to create meaning that will last long-term.
Art therapy has proven useful for a range of people seeking help – people coping with addiction, patients afflicted with acute pain, or people working through grief or who just feel stressed at the moment, as three examples.
It has become a prevalent counseling tool because it offers so many mediums to choose from. Dance therapy, for instance, incorporates a holistic approach to healing through motion.
The theory underpinning this field is that the mind, the spirit, and the body are all connected, and people who engage in dance therapy are practicing a form of meditation in motion.
Similarly, drama therapy follows many of the guideposts toward healing. Since theatre incorporates narrative arcs, flawed and complex characters, and a kaleidoscope of emotions, it makes sense that people would choose drama to share their own stories.
Other forms of art therapy include collage, digital art, photo therapy, family sculpture, painting, and more. If buying art supplies is out of your budget or if you simply enjoy being an art admirer more than a creator, visiting or even volunteering at your favorite artistic venue can also provide you a therapeutic effect.
Similar to art therapy, music therapy is a health service that addresses trauma, encourages speech, and promotes self-awareness through musical inventiveness. Some music therapy methods include studying lyrics, listening to music, improvising songs, playing an instrument, dancing along to a beat, and others.
For many people working through or recovering from addiction, music replicates a “chemical high” that is often sought from substances. Creating music with a group of other people also in recovery presents individuals with a common goal and engenders a feeling of camaraderie. The essential focus here is on tapping into your own rhythm, physical or mental, listening to what you really want out of life, and putting you in harmony with your surroundings.
Since time immemorial, people have recognized the rejuvenating powers of creativity. Counselors often recommend that people journal while they’re in therapy, but some people don’t express themselves best with words. Creative therapies have the power to help people instantly communicate some of the ineffable sufferings they’ve been through, or the regrets they harbor, without needing to use words.
Particularly if traditional talk therapy has not worked well for you in the past, creative therapy is a fantastic, research-proven outlet to begin.
Thank you, Brad, for sharing your insight with us today. Creative therapies can indeed be extremely impactful and effective for individuals and communities wrestling with addiction.
If you are interested in beginning work with a therapist who can help you work through an addiction, or are interested in working with a creative arts therapist to better cope with other obstacle or relationship dynamic, please don’t hesitate to reach out team at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to help facilitate a strong match for you.
Other questions, thoughts, or feedback? Reach our team any time at email@example.com or follow us on social @findmywellbeing. We look forward to talking more soon.