Sound Therapy

Have you ever spent a quiet afternoon at home, listening to soft music from an old turntable and drifting away on the strains of sound? Perhaps your idea of losing yourself in music is to turn your car stereo up as loud as possible to your all-time favorite band while you sing along at the top of your lungs? Do you sing in the shower? Do you have a song that epitomizes a certain time in your life or a certain relationship? There is no denying that music can be a very important part of our lives. Music and the sounds that vibrate from speakers, instruments, or even our own vocal cords can be, according to some therapy experts highlighted in The New York Times, can be incredibly therapeutic.

Sound Therapy and Music Therapy Are Two Different Programs

The American Music Therapy Association defines music therapy as an “evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals … by credentialed professionals…” The purpose of the therapy is to help an individual make changes in his or her life that have nothing to do with music through the use of music. Someone suffering from the effects of a childhood trauma may write a song or create a montage of songs that help them to express how they feel about the traumatic events when they are unable to articulate their feelings in another way.

Sound therapy, on the other hand, is about allowing the vibration of the music to help heal an individual on a holistic level. The music involved in sound therapy is often much different than that which you’ll hear on the local Top 40 radio station. The instruments range from drums, like the Djembe or Navajo drum, to tuning forks, to Himalayan Singing Bowls – small brass or crystal bowls that are “played” by encouraging vibration through the use of a paddle that is moved in a circular motion around the rim. The bowls, for instance, create a variety of vibrations and sounds based upon the materials that make up the bowl, the size of the bowl, and the speed with which they are played. The purpose, according to some experts in the field, is to give the mind something to hold onto to enhance a state of relaxation and healing.

For individuals who find it difficult to meditate for the simple reason that they are unable to “empty their mind” or concentrate on simple “being,” sound therapy through the use of these simple instruments, or even through recordings of certain relaxing tracts, may provide a kind of cognitive handlebar to hold onto while learning to cope with stress or other factors that may be related to drug addiction recovery or other chronic diseases. During sound therapy of this kind, an individual can expect to simply lie or sit in a comfortable position while another individual plays the various instruments and guides newcomers through the process.

Alternative Therapies Can Provide Benefits When Applied Correctly

If you’ve never been exposed to alternative and complementary therapies before, you may find yourself feeling a little skeptical as to whether they constitute, at least for the most part, a bunch of hokum and nonsense. You may be thinking that good, old-fashioned individual and group therapy, medications and willpower are the only ways to treatment something as serious as addiction, and the rest is simply window dressing that doesn’t really matter. While alternative therapies are not considered “evidence-based” therapies in terms of drug addiction treatment, that doesn’t mean that there is no evidence to suggest that they are perfectly beneficial when treating someone on the holistic level.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is a division of the National Institutes of Health, a group of think-tank and research organizations that also includes the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This governmental department exists to conduct research and provide information about alternative therapies to the general public in order to promote the proper use of the techniques and to dispel uncertainties about what the techniques can or, more importantly, cannot do.

For example, there is no evidence that suggests that the practice of yoga can cure or treat drug addiction. Yet, many treatment facilities incorporate yoga into their daily activity plans and encourage residents to participate. Why? If there is no evidence that leaning into a downward dog pose will negate one’s desire to abuse heroin, what is the purpose of doing it? The answer is more complex, and still simpler, than one might think.

According to the research conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, yoga can help individuals tolerate and control pain more effectively. The recovery process, particularly during the initial detox and withdrawal period, can often include bouts of pain due to the removal of drugs of abuse from the body. Pain may also be part of the reason an individual developed an addictive disorder, if they have a chronic pain condition that required the use of opiate pain medications. While the use of yoga alone has not been proven to keep an individual from abusing drugs, the use of yoga with other therapies, both evidence-based and alternative, may help some individuals tolerate the pain associated with co-occurring disorders or recovery.

Studies Show That Drumming Can Reduce Relapse in Drug Addiction Disorders

Sounds have a direct influence on the various states of relaxation in the human brain, according to information published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. In particular, the process of drumming directly affects the theta waves of the brain, which are linked to relaxation. An article published by Cedars-Sinai states that the theta brain waves have to do with relaxation, or day dreaming. When the brain is in this state, it is more apt to accept and learn new information because the neurons work together more effectively.

There are additional benefits to drumming as a form of sound therapy, however, including:

  • Reduction of isolation as drumming is often a group activity
  • Providing an avenue of self-expression for otherwise angry or disenfranchised individuals
  • Provides a sense of belonging
  • Provides an altered state of mind that is not drug-induced
  • Allows individuals to address unhealthy emotions in a healthy, non-verbal manner
  • Nurtures respect and personal relationships
  • Provides spiritual enlightenment and healing for some individuals

Overcoming the often long-lasting urges to abuse drugs is a challenge for many individuals who suffer from drug or alcohol addiction. Learning how to cope in healthy ways to prevent relapse is of great importance. The use of sound has been shown to work on a physiological, emotional, psychological, spiritual and personal level to help prevent individuals from returning to the dangerous and destructive lifestyle of drug addiction.

Finding the Right Residential Treatment Program for You and Your Family

The reasons a person develops an addiction to drugs or alcohol are as wide-ranging as there are people who suffer. Each person brings their own set of unique circumstances and personal histories to the problem, and each person will respond differently to various treatment options. Finding the right facility for the treatment of your disorder requires an understanding of the concepts surrounding treatment. In addition to providing a holistic approach to the treatment of addiction, as recommended by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the treatment program you choose should also pay attention to several other factors.

An effective and comprehensive treatment facility should:

  • Be aware that treating the whole person, including aspects such as legal and vocational needs, is necessary to help them overcome drug addiction and lead a productive, healthy lifestyle upon treatment completion
  • Provide a program that is flexible enough to change as the needs of the individual change throughout the process
  • Understand that treatment is often a long process that is marked by relapses of varying degrees and often requires continued care after the initial treatment process ends
  • Understand that evidence-based therapies are essential to effective treatment, including behavioral therapies, group therapies and family therapies to address the needs of the entire family unit
  • Incorporate medications when necessary to enhance counseling efforts for some residents

If you or someone you love is suffering from drug addiction, you are not alone. While the process of finding a treatment center may seem overwhelming, there is help available. Please contact us here at Axis so that our compassionate staff can help develop a treatment program specifically for you and your family.