The Power of Self-Expression: Art and Music as Alternative Treatment Therapies

If you are someone you know is recovering from addiction, you may need a way to stop the cycle of negative thoughts and self-destructive behavioral patterns. Music and art therapy  are alternative approaches that can be part of successful treatment plan.  Creative expression has been used for years in either individual or group counseling formats, in rehab centers, hospitals, schools, and other settings. Many people who do not respond well to more traditional treatment strategies experience success with music and art therapy.

Communication and self-expression issues are common among people with substance abuse problems. Self-expression and communicating creatively can help people in recovery process thoughts and feelings in a positive way. Often, those who suffer from addiction have trouble making sense of their emotions and they struggle with how people respond to them. Creativity opens new avenues of understanding and helps people learn new thoughts, responses, and behavior patterns.


People often deny the need for help and resist treatment Art therapy can help overcome this problem because expression through art therapy can motivate individuals to achieve a healthier lifestyle, boost self-confidence, and improve communication skills in personal and social settings. Music is often used to help overcome depression, stress, anxiety and rage issues, which are emotional responses that produce unhealthy thoughts and behaviors.

Listening to and playing music creates a distinctive response in the brain. It stimulates the neurotransmitter dopamine, which makes you feel good and generates an overall sense of well-being. Music can help people be more receptive to treatment and its benefits, and more likely to continue toward recovery. Music therapy can increase positive feelings and self-awareness which can help people cope with temptations and frustrations that come from addictions. When listening to their favorite music, people experience a stimulation of the auditory cortex in anticipation of their favorite musical passages, and the feeling of exultation at its peak has a powerfully healing impact. Sometimes our brain helps us experience music even when we’re not actually listening to it or performing it.


Art and music therapy help you get in touch with your feelings, learn to accept yourself, and avoid persistent feelings of guilt and shame. The goal is to create a sense of happiness and hope through painting, sculpting, coloring, drawing, and collage artwork. Be very creative as you express every aspect of their emotional state, both positive and negative.

Continue art and music therapy even after formal treatment is completed. It can help you relieve stress, deal with depression, and fend off the temptation to use again. At your home, choose art and music that expresses your emotions and helps your mood. According to HomeAdvisor, “Everyone deserves to have their own space for their passion project, be it a crafting station or simply a place to journal. Look around your home with a creative eye, and you’ll realize that much of what you need to create your ideal hobby workshop is already nearby and can be easily converted.” Staying sober or free of addictions is an ongoing struggle, and it’s essential to find a way to cope with the emotional chaos and pressures that make recovery so difficult.

Guest article by Kim Thomas of US Health Corps posted 8-12-18.

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