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Music Therapy Against Addiction

The Benefit to Music Therapy in Rehabilitation Centers

By Elizabeth Ambrose

“What can we do?” Professionals working in drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers have been asking this question for decades as the ongoing epidemic of substance abuse continues in our country. According to the National Substance Abuse and Addiction Statistics organization (NCDAS), accidental drug overdose is the leading cause of death for persons under the age of 45. Over 70,000 drug overdose deaths occur in the US each year. Within Allegheny county alone, collected data has suggested a recent 44% increase in overdose deaths when compared to the previous year (Data on Opioid Use and Overdose).

People who suffer from substance addiction can attend a rehabilitation center to seek out treatment. There are many treatment centers within the Pittsburgh area that offer various services to promote successful recovery with their clients. A unique service that can be provided is music therapy.

Music therapy focuses on healing areas such as a person’s physical needs, social needs, and mental health needs. Music therapists have a strong presence in the treatment of substance abuse. Since the 20th century there have been numerous studies published on the benefits of music therapy in rehabilitation clinics. Music therapists in these settings can utilize experiences with clients such as:

  • Song lyric analysis

  • Therapeutic song listening

  • Music and art creation

  • Music and meditation

  • Improvised music making

  • Songwriting

  • Drumming circles

Music therapy can also help clients relearn habits and practices that promote success in their recovery. Sessions also have been shown to decrease cravings and desire to use for clients in rehabilitation centers. Clients find the use of music extremely therapeutic, but it also speaks to them differently.

Music is a powerful tool that impacts each individual differently and has the potential to create the spaces where we can work towards healing. Music therapy offers a unique approach to treatment in recovery and helping clients be successful in their rehabilitation journey. If you are interested in learning more about music therapy’s role in drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs please contact us at, or visit some of our resources below.


Bruscia, Kenneth E. Case Examples of Music Therapy for Substance Use Disorders. Barcelona Pub., 2012.

“Data on Opioid Use and Overdose.” Data on Opioid Use and Overdose | Health Department | Allegheny County,

Silverman , Michael J. “Effects of a Single Lyric Analysis Intervention on Withdrawal and Craving With Inpatients on a Detoxification Unit: A Cluster-Randomized Effectiveness Study.”

SUBSTANCE USE & MISUSE, vol. 51, no. 2, 2016, pp. 247–247.,

“Substance Abuse and Addiction Statistics [2022].” NCDAS, 18 June 2022,

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