Addiction is a multifaceted condition, with a wide variety of possible causes and factors. Because it is something that takes over every aspect of your life so completely, recovery involves a radical transformation of rebuilding every aspect of your life and health. This is the main reason there is so much diversity in the methods and resources in helping your recovery.
Music is often a very important part of many people’s lives and one that is often powerfully linked with your emotions. The therapeutic potential of music in a recovery setting is just now beginning to be more fully explored, and what research is showing has some exciting potential about how this can be a helpful tool as part of your treatment.
People under the influence of abusive substances often have a hard time expressing or understanding emotions. Substances frequently cloud your brain’s ability to process emotions or alter your mood artificially. Many people with substance use disorders become experts at suppressing their emotions, or may even turn to the drug in an effort to get rid of unpleasant feelings.
For that reason, a very important part of the recovery process is learning how to better understand your emotions, and create better coping mechanisms that deal with the true root causes. For many people, music can have enormous power for emotional recall and processing. Your hearing has one of the strongest ties to your memory of any of your five senses so that a familiar song can easily “bring you back” to an emotion with which a song is associated. Music, whether it’s being listened to or created, can have a powerful impact to help you get back in touch with yourself.
Music’s effect on your emotions can be used in two different ways. First, it can help you get in touch and better understand what you are feeling in a particular moment. Music that matches your mood can help you mindfully get in touch with what you are feeling, helping you to better understand that emotional state so that you can work on its causes. Music provides a safe way of digging into the deep parts of yourself that may be difficult to put into words.
In addition, music can also be an effective way of regulating and controlling your emotions. If you are feeling overwhelmed, certain types of gentle instrumental music can be among the most effective ways to help bring your emotions down to a manageable level. So whether you are using music to express how you feel, or how you want to feel, it can be a very effective tool for emotional expression and healing.
Sometimes it may feel like the urge to relapse may get incredibly strong. It may feel like the urge to use feels overwhelming, and that fighting it off feels too exhausting. It may seem to overtake your day, to the point that there becomes very little else you can think about. However, the truth is that these powerful cravings do not last forever. A report from the Palm Beach Institute suggests that most cravings last only five to ten minutes, and then dissipate.
This means that it is possible to “distract” yourself from the strong cravings. Simply holding on and gently acknowledging your urges without giving in to them will allow you to make it through. Either playing a musical instrument or listening to music can be an excellent way to absorb your mind into an alternative activity, allowing you to weather the storm of your craving until it passes.