How Music Can Help Your Recovery

Diseases are very unique entities. Some diseases are physical while others are psychological. One disease might render a person unable to care for him or herself while another would allow an individual to continue living life almost as if the disease wasn’t there. It wasn’t long ago that addiction was widely believed to be a moral affliction, evidence of an individual’s being willfully selfish and self-destructive, or even just merely being a bad person.

With the benefit of advanced and continuous research, we’ve come to understand that addiction is a disease; however, unlike most other diseases that are either physical or psychological, addiction is a disease that’s at once both physical and psychological, which makes it an incredibly complicated affliction that is exceedingly difficult to overcome without an effective treatment regimen.

In addition to being a complicated disease in and of itself, the development of an addiction to alcohol or drugs — or even a diverse number of different behaviors — is likewise a complicated process that can happen in many different ways. For instance, a person can become addicted as a result of having been exposed to or witnessed substance abuse during his or her childhood, indicating that it can be a learned behavior. Alternately, it’s been found that addiction can run in families much like many other types of health conditions, indicating a genetic or biological basis as well. Additionally, a big part of it has to do with one’s personal choice and development; after all, an individual couldn’t possibly become addicted if he or she simply refused to consume alcohol or drugs.

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Being such a complicated, almost enigmatic disease, there are a variety of different methods available to treat addiction. There are numerous self-help and twelve-step groups, inpatient or residential rehabs, outpatient treatments, counseling and therapy, faith-based programs, and so on. What’s more, there are also a number of complementary, supplemental, and holistic treatments that are increasingly applied to the treatment of addiction, sometimes to great effect. Music therapy is one such compliment that has shown a wide range of applications, including the treatment of mental disorders and substance abuse. Therefore, the following will serve as a concise overview of what music can offer to individuals suffering from addiction or who are in recovery.

Does Music in Recovery Have Therapeutic Value?

Listening to music in recovery can be an incredibly powerful experience. Without even realizing it, we often attach certain songs or types of music with our experiences, recording those subconscious associations in our memory until such a time that something recalls one of those memories. In fact, our senses of hearing and scent are the most atavistic of our five senses, meaning that certain sounds and smells are the most effective types of stimulation that can inspire us to recall particular experiences and memories.

Another way of putting it would be to say that sounds and smells are most easily attached to memory, even more so than taste, sight, and our sense of touch. Music is especially stimulating as it tends to be memorable by nature. An individual can hear a hear a catchy song and still remember the melody decades later, which reinforces the idea that music can have a major effect on one’s cognition, which refers to thoughts, moods, emotions, attitudes, and so on.

In relatively recent years, researchers have identified a number of ways in which music can offer therapeutic value. The initial idea was that, since music can evoke powerful emotions — slow, melancholic songs can make people feel extremely sad while upbeat, faster-paced songs can make people feel happy — it might be possible for listening to music to improve the cognitive recall of individuals suffering from dementia and other memory-related disorders. Similarly, music therapy has been used to stimulate individuals into expressing a variety of emotions. More specifically, the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) defines music therapy as a professional’s use of music to help address physical, emotional, social, and cognitive needs of their patients.

Music Therapy & Substance Abuse

Although music therapy is not advised to be used as the primary or sole form of substance abuse treatment, there is increasing evidence in support of music therapy as a complement to one’s core substance abuse treatments, such as psychotherapy and relapse prevention groups. For instance, one study that employed the use of drums specifically and involved encouraging a group of patients to engage with the drums found that it encouraged creativity, helped individuals to develop or hone their senses of rhythm, and fostered a sense of community among the group members.

However, music in recovery can be utilized in a number of other ways, both in group settings or individually. There’s been a lot of evidence to suggest that playing certain types of music — classical music, New Age instrumental, smooth jazz, and so on — often offers a pronounced calming effect, which can be extremely helpful to individuals who are in need of strategies for preventing relapse. Alternatively, music can be used as a form of expression such as liberating unexpressed emotions or using music to simply convey how one is feeling; this can be achieved in different ways, including playing music in recovery with actual instruments or creating digital playlists that capture one’s intended feeling.

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The Physiological Effects of Music

Individuals respond to music in more ways than just foot-tapping. In terms of physiological response to music, it’s been found that slow music relaxes listeners, causing them to breathe much slower and a significant decrease in heart rate. However, the brain responds to music with a release of endorphins, which is seen as being the reason why music elevates one’s mood and tends to have the effect of alleviating pain due to injury or health conditions.

It’s often recommended that individuals with high blood pressure listen to music in the mornings as the music will calm them and help to keep their blood pressure lower for the remainder of the day; in fact, a study found that listening to only 30 minutes of classical music each day substantially reduced the symptoms experienced by individuals who had been diagnosed with chronic high blood pressure. Listening to music regularly has also recently been associated with a decrease in frequency of headaches and migraines, an increase in the speed of healing, and even a decrease in the frequency of epileptic seizures in individuals who suffered from epilepsy.

Utilizing Music in the Recovery Process

In addition to being to utilize music in recovery, music can also be a major part of one’s continuing recovery and a great tool for sustaining sobriety. Many individuals who play instruments find the activity to be very therapeutic, a great outlet for expressing one’s emotions, blowing off steam related to stress, or even as a means of relaxation. However, this effect can also be achieved by playing music on a stereo, computer, or portable media device is an individual has no interest in learning an instrument. Since statistics show that many of the cravings individuals have — whether for alcohol, drugs, food, cigarettes, or otherwise – and which put individuals at risk of relapse only last between five and ten minutes, listening to a single song is an effective way to avoid allowing a craving to turn into a relapse.

Call the Palm Beach Institute for a Free Consultation Today

In addition to music in recovery, there are many tools available with which recovering addicts can strengthen or reinforce their sobriety. Everyone is different and has different needs. However, by personalizing one’s treatment program to address specific, individual needs, one can achieve long-lasting sobriety. If you or someone you love would benefit from learning more about music therapy or other types of addiction treatment, the Palm Beach Institute is here to help. Call us at 855-534-3574 for a free consultation and assessment with one of our caring, experienced recovery specialists. A new life of health and happiness is only one phone call away.

How Yoga Can Help Your Recovery

When an individual develops an addiction, virtually every aspect of his or her life is affected. Many people associate alcoholism and drug addiction with the health effects that one experiences when chemically dependent, including harm to many bodily organs and systems, increased susceptibility to infectious diseases, weakened immune system, and an overall decline in wellness. In addition to the physical effects, there are also a number of mental, social, and even spiritual effects that make addiction arguably the most dangerous disease there is. Being a chronic and progressive disease of the brain, addiction causes the altered structure and functioning of the brain, resulting in patterns of thought and behavior that can be irrational and even self-destructive. These irrational and harmful behaviors frequently harm or even destroy important relationships in an addict’s life while he or she pursues relationships that are predominantly with other substance abusers, which perpetuates further self-destructive behavior.

Additionally, the disease of addiction often affects individuals on a spiritual level. The founder of the original twelve-step group Alcoholics Anonymous once famously suggested that individuals became addicts because they were searching for spiritual fulfillment at the bottom of a bottle. While that may not be the most accurate explanation for why all individuals begin experimenting with substance abuse, the emphasis on spiritual recovery as part of the twelve-step method has recently been echoed in the more clinical addiction treatment programs, which more frequently incorporate twelve-step based methodology and even holistic or complementary treatments. In fact, some have suggested that programming that doesn’t address the spiritual needs of those in recovery is too limited in scope and, therefore, less effective. As such, more and more facilities are offering yoga and other holistic treatments as a means of addressing the varying needs of those with alcohol and drug addictions. The following will define yoga, highlighting some of its main benefits, and describe how it can be a helpful tool for one’s recovery from addiction.

The Art of Yoga: What Exactly Is It?

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The actual term “yoga” has been used for thousands of years to refer to a very specific form of bodily movement and various adaptations or derivatives. The ancient forms of yoga, or the “eight limbs of yoga”, as well as the more contemporary form—while certainly related and similar—do differ in some key ways. In particular, modern yoga tends to be more physical than ancient forms, which put more emphasis on the mental and spiritual aspects than the physical. The modern, physical version was actually adapted from one of the eight original forms of yoga; as such, the yoga described here will refer to this more physical, modern iteration of yoga.

Still seen as a marriage of body, mind, and spirit, yoga has been alternately described as an exercise, artform, and even a type of moving meditation. Most are familiar with what yoga looks like having likely seen it on television or classes at the gym consisting of individuals in various lunging poses with arms outstretched, or lying in one of various positions on the floor. The purpose of yoga is to improve balance, circulation, flexibility, and strength through a variety of stretches, movements, poses, and controlled breathing. Meditation is sometimes used either before or after yoga as a means of quieting the mind or relaxing the body, respectively.

The Physical & Mental Benefits of Practicing Yoga

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Yoga tends to be practiced slowly—although there are fast-paced forms of yoga in which the goal is to raise the body’s temperature and one’s heart rate—and usually entails very deliberate movements and assuming various poses, each of which has specific benefits such as to improve balance, flexibility, coordination, strength, and so on, both mentally and physically. In addition to the obvious physical and health benefits, part of what is so unique about yoga is that each individual’s “practice,” or the level of experience one has in practicing yoga, will evolve or progress at very different speeds and involves letting go of one’s ego, being humble while embracing the notion of equality and harmony. As such, a major benefit of practicing yoga is the mindset that it instills in practitioners. In a world where everyone is so concerned about what others think and judgment and consequence, practicing yoga is a way release the burdensome thoughts and worries that many individuals carry, focusing instead on one’s bodily movements, breathing, and practicing as part of a community of equals.

Why Incorporate Yoga Into Your Recovery?

There are many reasons why someone would want to include yoga into his or her treatment and recovery regimen. One of the most obvious benefits that yoga offers to recovery is as a means of low-intensity exercise. In this way, yoga is a very approachable and individualized form of physical activity with each person practicing and progressing in his or her own pace. Despite the high level of individualization, the benefits tend to be universal: those who practice yoga exhibit marked improvements in energy level, balance, circulation, strength, and flexibility. It’s an excellent form of low-impact exercise that is much different from running on a treadmill or lifting free weights. As such, despite the challenge posed by some of the more advanced poses, yoga tends to seem like an easier, slower-paced, and more accessible form of physical activity. Additionally, yoga helps individuals to cultivate a strong sense of awareness, fosters a sense of focus, allows individuals to better cope with daily stresses, and serves to almost detox the mind.

The mental benefits to one’s recovery could be considered even more valuable than the physical. To the extent of the mental and emotional benefits, yoga could be seen as similar to meditation in that it offers individuals an almost systematic way of achieving mental clarity and serenity. However, while meditation is all about focus and clearing the mind, individuals who are practicing yoga clear their minds so that they may focus their consciousness on their movements and form. While being low-impact and low intensity, yoga has been frequently described as both a great form of exercise as well as an effective way of ridding oneself of stress, which the body often stores in the form of tense muscles and joints. In essence, the practice of yoga is much like physically working the stress and tension out of the body. This makes yoga great for relapse prevention since individuals can practice yoga when they are feeling stressed or otherwise tempted to relapse.

Explore Your Recovery Options with the Palm Beach Institute

Just as there are numerous benefits to incorporating yoga into one’s recovery, addiction treatment has shown to give those suffering from chemical dependency a number of skills essential to achieving lasting sobriety. Additionally, since each individual will respond differently to each form of addiction treatment and therapy, the programming offered by alcohol and drug rehabs is highly customizable, ensuring that each patient receives treatments that address his or her specific recovery needs. If you or someone you love is suffering from alcoholism or addiction and would like to learn more about rehabilitative treatments, the Palm Beach Institute is here to help. Call us at 855-534-3574 or contact us online today to speak with a knowledgeable recovery specialist and receive a free consultation and assessment. We’ve helped countless individuals to return to lives of health, happiness, and sobriety; let us do the same for you or your loved one today.

5 Tips for Those in Recovery Who Also Suffer from Chronic Pain

People can become addicted to many different things. Despite alcohol and drugs likely being the most common, there is a range of behavioral addictions that can cause a variety of other problems; these behavioral addictions include gambling addiction, spending addiction, sex addiction, food and eating addiction, exercise addiction, body modification addiction, and so on. Although each “drug” of choice comes with its own level of risk, its own side effects and dangers, one thing remains the same across all addictions: Individuals are so compelled to fulfill their addictions that it puts their health, relationships, finances, and even their lives at risk.

While alcohol and drug addicts can get their start with substance abuse in many different ways, one of the easiest and most common methods for an individual to develop addiction is to lose control of the medication prescribed for pain management. It’s both easy and common for those who suffer from chronic pain to increase dosage of pain medication on their own volition. It’s not that they intend to become dependent, but rather the presence of chronic pain leads to rationalization of increasing dosage of pain medication under the assumption that more painkillers will mean more relief. Unfortunately, within weeks the individual’s tolerance has increased to such an extent that a month’s supply of pain medication might only last a week, creating more of a problem than if the medication had only been taken as prescribed and possibly even leading the physically dependent to resort to supplementing pain medication by purchasing street drugs like heroin.

There are many addicts who have completed an addiction treatment program after developing an addiction to pain medication prescribed for legitimate conditions that involve chronic noncancer pain (CNP). However, once the individual had achieved sobriety and has entered the maintenance phase of recovery, he or she will often realize that the chronic pain that was experienced prior to the development of addiction has returned, but this time the individual is unable to use narcotic or opiate pain medications in order to manage the pain. Does that mean that addicts in recovery must simply become accustomed to pain, even when it’s excruciating and debilitating?

The answer: No. There are pain management solutions for recovering addicts that do not involve opiate painkillers that jeopardize recovery. For those in recovery who also suffer from chronic noncancer pain, here are five tips for pain management that won’t put your sobriety at risk.

1: Acupuncture Can Be Effective in Treating Many Types of Pain

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Acupuncture—the ancient Chinese healing technique that involves inserting hair-thin needles into the skin at specific points around the body—is listed by the World Health Organization as a valid treatment for many different types of pain and even fibromyalgia. Especially for pain in the back or pain that’s arthritic in nature, acupuncture has offered relief to patients the world over for thousands of years. In 2007, a meta-analysis of many studies on the efficacy of acupuncture found that among the different conditions from which acupuncture offered relief to patients, it was found that treating back pain, especially lower back pain, is where acupuncture was the most effective.

2: Spinal Manipulation Shows Promise for Pain and Headaches

Chiropractor is putting pressure on patient shoulder

Although we’re still in need of more clinical trials to determine the extent to which spinal manipulation, also known as spinal manipulative therapy, is helpful, preliminary results indicate that this technique, in which chiropractors and trained clinicians apply controlled pressure or force to specific areas and joints in the spine, has offered patients relief from conditions involving back pain as well as from neck pain, headaches, and even migraines. In addition to offering pain relief, spinal manipulation is thought to offer mobility benefits and improved motion in the spine.

3: Therapeutic Massage as Pain Management Technique

Young Man Enjoying Massage At Spa

Most people have gotten massages when they want to indulge or pamper themselves, but there’s a growing body of evidence that massage can be very beneficial to individuals who suffer from one or more forms of chronic noncancer pain. In fact, a 2001 study published in Archives of Internal Medicine found that those individuals who received at least one massage each week over a ten-week period reportedly experienced more relief from pain than did individuals who received acupuncture treatments or tried any other alternative pain relief techniques.

4: Biofeedback for Identifying Ways to Decrease Pain

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The underlying mechanisms of biofeedback that have made it extremely effective in treating many types of chronic pain as well as incontinence, migraine headaches, and even high blood pressure are somewhat mysterious and not yet fully understood. It’s presently thought that simply becoming more aware of the inner processes at work in the body gives individuals more control over those processes. During biofeedback therapy—which typically take place in a physician’s office as it involves a lot of equipment—a number of electrodes are attached to the individual’s skin while sensors are attached to the fingers, which collectively monitor the body’s vitals including temperature, heart rate, perspiration, oxygen levels, blood pressure, muscle activity, and so on. This allows a physician to note what bodily processes are affected and how those processes change as a result of stress or other conditions. With this information, the individual can practice targeted exercises to improve those systems, including deep breathing, muscle relaxation, mindfulness exercises, and so on.

5: Hypnotherapy and Meditation to Reduce Secondary Effects of Pain

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When people experience pain, they often tense their muscles and constrict blood flow in the area, which cause agitate the pain and make it even worse. This is a common cause for migraines as an individual tenses the muscles surrounding the skull during a headache to the point of the headache becoming significantly worse and developing into a migraine. As such, exercises that involve relaxation have proven to be very successful in offering relief from some of the secondary effects associated with chronic pain. Hypnotherapy and meditation have proven to be particularly helpful in these areas as they both induce an altered state of the individual’s consciousness, increasing bodily awareness, decreasing the anxiety and tension associated with pain, and thereby significantly reducing the severity of chronic noncancer pain.

While chronic pain is a serious condition that requires adequate treatment, there are a number of complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) that are effective in treating chronic noncancer pain (CNP) in individuals with a history of addiction and substance abuse. All it takes is some research and being determined to find an effective treatment or combination of treatments for chronic pain in order to find long-term relief.

If you or someone you love suffers from addiction with or without chronic pain, the Palm Beach Institute is here to help. Our recovery specialists have helped countless addicts begin the journey of recovery by finding the right addiction treatment programs to meet their individual needs. You can begin the journey toward a life of sobriety and fulfillment, too. Call us today at 855-534-3574 or contact us online today.