Addiction, Connection, and Music Therapy

For a long time, I and many others have seen drugs as the cause of addiction. If you take enough of a highly addictive drug, you will become addicted. This is what I was taught in school growing up. But there is a new theory emerging, explained in the above video, that says addiction is not caused by drugs, but by isolation.

The theory is that humans will seek connection and without connection, we will seek other things that feel like connection (things that release the same chemicals in our brains that are released when we have human connection). Human connection substitutes include: drugs, technology (phone, tv, computer), food… addictions of any kind. But unlike human connection, the more people use substitutes, the more isolated they become, increasing their need for human connection.

How Music Helps
When you play or listen to music that you enjoy, your brain releases dopamine and oxytocin. Dopamine and oxytocin are “feel good” hormones that also occur when you are holding a baby, cuddling, or doing something exciting and new. Our brain releases the same hormones with music as it does with human connection. You can imagine then, that singing, listening to, and creating music with other people fulfills our human need for connection in a big way.

This fall, Note-Able Music Therapy Services will be partnering with the Life Change Center to provide music therapy groups for people recovering from opioid addiction. People in music therapy groups will have the opportunity to express themselves verbally and nonverbally and to be witnessed by peers. The process of being seen and heard in a supportive environment is critical to establishing community and social connection, which, according to the above video, may be the most important elements of overcoming addiction.

Please share your thoughts on addiction, and the video above, in the comments below.

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