Many remedies can help ease the discomforts of drug and alcohol withdrawal. This is good news for the 23.1 million people who were in need of substance abuse treatment as of 2012, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

What Is Withdrawal?

Withdrawal is the process of coming off drugs or alcohol. The symptoms of a typical drug or alcohol withdrawal experience can be varied.

  • Tolerance has developed, and the individual has to use more of the substance than ever before to get the same effect he is accustomed to.
  • He no longer has control over how much or how often he engages in substance abuse, despite numerous attempts to decrease use or stop using altogether.
  • If he goes too long without using, he starts experiencing withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiousness, mood swings, tiredness, trembling, perspiration, trouble sleeping, and loss of appetite.
  • He has set limitations regarding how much and how many substances to use, as well as how long he will let the use go on, and he ends up surpassing those limits.
  • He used to enjoy hanging out with family and friends, hobbies, or social events, but now all he wants to do is use drugs and/or drink.
  • He may have lost his job or been arrested, or he might be in debt or lying to loved ones, but he still can’t stop using.
  • The majority of his time is spent thinking about using or actually using the substance.

Many people are surprised when they find out something as simple and pleasurable as music can ease the discomfort of drug and alcohol withdrawal. Such a claim might draw out the skeptic in everyone, but just as music has been proven to encourage growth in plants, it supports healing and thriving in the human subject, too.

Musical Medicine

It is thought that the key proponent in music therapy is the ability to help the mind and thereby, the body, to relax. This can come in handy for both the anxious addict who is experiencing a lot of mental discomfort during withdrawal and the physically pained addict who must endure symptoms such as muscular and bone pain or headaches.

Among 60 patients in one study, self-reported results included a 12-21 percent decrease in pain and a 19-25 percent decrease in depression among the group exposed to music compared to the group that did not listen to any music. Illustrating the relaxing power of music, Medical Daily reported on a Mindlab Institution study wherein participants listened to an 8-minute soundtrack and rated it as 11 percent more relaxing than any other song they listened to, with overall rates of anxiety decreasing by 65 percent.

Even support groups can benefit from working music into their programs. Today’s wide selection of musical genres offers endless possibilities for discussion in an effort to bring group participants together in a bonding experience.

In some cases, making music can be just as enjoyable and as much of a bonding experience as listening to it. Creating these bonding experiences can help to build networks of trust and confidence among peers in treatment.

Music aids in soothing the mind, which can run rampant with worry, sadness, anger, and other feelings during withdrawal and treatment. Research from a Temple University study shows that music can actually decrease levels of anxiety in coronary heart disease patients, with patients exposed to music measuring 5.72 units lower on an anxiety rating scale of 20-80 than patients who were not exposed to music.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 53 percent of all drug addicts and 37 percent of alcohol-dependent individuals have one or more serious mental health disorders. Many of these comorbid cases involve depressive and anxiety-based illnesses — two things that music can aid in combatting a great deal. Music can be an important treatment component for substance abusers since 20 percent of them suffer from anxiety or mood disorders, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports.

Treatment to a Tune

Music has long been a factor in enhancing mood, alleviating stress, and promoting relaxation, but research that takes it to a medical level to prove its significance has only come forward in recent years. LiveScience reports that a review of 30 trials on music as a form of symptom treatment for cancer patients boasted 64 percent of music-recipient patients reporting an improvement in their anxiety and 73 percent reporting a better quality of life, compared to only 36 percent and 27 percent respectively in the control group.

Orlando Recovery Center tailors treatment to each client’s individual needs. From medication and therapy, your treatment may include multiple components for your benefit. Call today to learn more.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.