Music, Art, and Other Alternative Therapies for Drug Addiction

Not all recovery takes place while taking 12 steps. Sometimes, the best way to reclaim your life from a substance abuse disorder is by tuning into creative ways to manage your recovery. Consider some alternative, healthy outlets to cope during this process.


Harvard Medical School describes music as a “fundamental attribute of the human species.” You would be hard-pressed to find a culture in any corner of the globe that didn’t utilize music in its festivities. Music has the power to help you redirect your focus away from your cravings. As such, it’s an excellent tool to have in your arsenal throughout the recovery process.

While listening to music has its benefits, learning to play an instrument has many more. When you take time out of your busy schedule to focus on learning a new skill, such as playing an instrument, your brain switches gears and prioritizes the new sounds your body and mind are trying to emulate. Musical training can alter your brain function and structure for the better. It encourages healthy brain development and improves your long-term memory. If you’re brand new to music but want to learn to play, consider starting with a clarinet. It’s a good instrument for beginners, and the skills you learn on it can be applied to more advanced instruments like the saxophone.


Art therapy is not a new concept in drug addiction recovery. A vast majority of treatment centers utilize some form of artistic endeavors to thwart relapse and encourage positive vices. Whether you are painting, drawing, sculpting, or even writing poetry, art therapy allows you to use your imagination and creativity to express yourself in a healthy and positive way. You may even find that through arts, you can come to grips with issues that may have led you down the path toward addiction in the first place. In a group therapy setting, art can also be used to add structure to your life and help you learn to give and accept support and encouragement from others undergoing substance abuse treatment.

Art has similar effects as music but triggers the parts of the brain associated with visual stimuli. Additionally, many scientists contend that art significantly enhances brain function and has a positive impact on emotional and social development. Creating art also increases the brain’s level of serotonin, a chemical partly responsible for regulating mood, sleep and appetite.

Holistic treatments

Art and music are not the only unorthodox treatments that have proven effective in the substance abuse treatment process. Yoga, meditation, exercise and hyperbaric oxygenation also provide benefits to the brain and body that help you combat addiction, even when cravings are at their worst. Yoga and meditation provide you a timeout before making rash decisions. Exercise keeps your body strong and offers tangible benefits, such as weight loss and muscle strengthening that will serve as encouragement. Hyperbaric oxygenation treatment has a detoxifying effect and may decrease neurological disorders that lead to relapse.

Substance abuse recovery isn’t easy. You will still need to stay in touch with your mentors, counselors and therapists until you can learn to manage your day-to-day life without professional intervention.

Whether you are learning to play music, enjoying your local art scene, or indulging in other alternative treatment methods, the more positive behaviors you instill in your life, the better your chances at avoiding relapse. You’ve come so far, so don’t be afraid to use non-traditional tools to take on the extra mile you need to complete your journey to sobriety.

Reach out to learn more about addiction counseling.


By: Michelle Peterson

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