California Highlands

Music In Recovery: Listening with Brand New Ears

Music Throughout the Ages

The creation and deriving of pleasure from music are practices that humans have engaged in since the beginning of time. Across the millennia, the evolution of music can be seen occurring in tandem with that of man. Over the last century, much with its human counterpart, musical evolution has come leaps and bounds with the advent of technology. Now it is available at the tips of our fingers. Music possesses mysterious power over the human psyche: the power to inspire, the power to move, and even the power to heal! Music impacts us in many facets of life, including sobriety.  Using the power of music in recovery has helped millions of addicts across the globe, including myself.

A Life-Long Love

Before I ever picked up my first drink or drug, I had a close relationship with music. My mother was a musician in high school. Her love for all things music was a trait I luckily inherited. I remember being barely three years old as she educated me on classic bands like The Beatles, Lynyrd Skynard, Jimi Hendrix and all of the other heavy hitters from her era.

From the time I could talk I would sing in the car with my mother and even went to my first concert to see Ringo Starr from The Beatles at five years old. I took voice lessons and guitar lessons and always participated in my school choir. There was something about music that always moved me. I feel my most inspired while listening to music, and it always seems I can find a song that precisely mirrors whatever I have going on in my life.

Into Addiction

While my addiction began to take flight in my teenage years, it still didn’t impact my love for music. Of course, I would still go to concerts, but I would never go sober. I went to many different music festivals and events across a span of about three or four years, none of which I was sober for. Live music became synonymous with using. I could not attend concerts without drinking or doing drugs.

When I first went off to rehab in Florida, I remember my first few nights in treatment were brutal. I felt lost and abandoned. The staff had taken everything from me, my cell phone, my ID, my money. They even took my iPod because it had the ability to connect to the Internet. I sat in the hollow emptiness of my room with nothing but the deafening silence of my reality encroaching.

Music Heals

One Behavioral Health Technician at the treatment center was extraordinarily kind to us. I explained how badly I needed my iPod so I could listen to my music. It was the only way I would get through the day. I felt my mind and spirit breaking, and I knew the only thing that could make it better was even just a few notes of my favorite songs.

Despite it being completely against the rules, he allowed me access to my iPod away from the community with the Internet turned off.

As soon as the headphones hit my ears, and the sweet music I had craved flooded my body, I felt rejuvenated. The war being waged inside my head was drowned out by guitar riffs and lyrics that let me know I wasn’t alone.

I would sit there every day for about an hour, iPod in hand, and journal. While I wasn’t able to stay clean from this particular stint in rehab, the experience demonstrated to me the power of music in recovery.

Round Two

After my subsequent relapse, I returned to rehab about eight months later. It was a different facility this time, but they were far more liberal with client privileges. Even though that very iPod had been stolen from me while I was in a halfway home, we were allowed access to our own personal cell phones for several hours a day, giving me time with my music anyway.

This particular stretch in rehab was characterized by dealing with the violent end to a tumultuous relationship I had been a part of. The emotional turmoil coupled with the withdrawal process was overwhelming. The only brief moments of a reprieve were granted by meditation with my music in tow. The implementation of music in recovery for me was absolutely vital.

Recovery, Finally

Although it had taken me a year of getting sober and ultimately relapsing shortly after, I finally found long-term sobriety. It was only after getting into recovery that I began to rediscover many of my old past times I reveled in prior to active addiction. This included live music and concerts.

Music in recovery has a completely different meaning and effect on me. I had spent so many years wasting away in active addiction. While I still did get to go to many different music events, I can’t actually recall most of them. I was unable to pick up on the subtle nuisances of the guitarist during a set, or how well the musician actually performed. I only know I was there.

As such an avid listener of music, this harsh reality made me sad. So many wasted nights and experiences I’ll never be able to get back. So I promised myself to respect music in recovery. I attend as many shows as I possibly can, truly appreciating and partaking in the experience. Music to sober ears is completely different. It was like hearing the music again for the first time.

Music Therapy

I am not the only addict who responds to the healing capabilities of music in recovery. Music therapy has been wildly successful and popular in addiction treatment. Music can reach people in ways that no other force on Earth can.

It penetrates the depth of the soul and can reinvigorate a burning passion within someone in moments. What could take therapists weeks, months, or even years to unlock, music can do in seconds. Using music in recovery has helped millions of addicts around the world.

My New Drug of Choice: Music in Recovery

Throughout my life, in sobriety and in addiction, music has always been an ever-present force. It is my best friend, my confidant, my biggest advocate even when I am falling apart. I couldn’t imagine my life without it.

Listening to music in recovery has gotten me through some of my hardest times, the times where I did not believe I had the fortitude to withstand whatever was going on in my life. Music is the shoulder I cry on and the friend who celebrates all my victories with me, in sobriety and in life.

Music is and always will be my drug of choice. Nothing makes me feel the way certain songs at particular moments do. I am never more inspired and more myself without it. Perhaps one of the greatest gifts recovery has bestowed upon me is my ability to more fully appreciate music again.

Music in recovery is one of the best emotional outlets available and has staved off relapse in my life on more than one occasion. I am forever grateful to everything music has done for me in both recovery and life.

If you or someone you know is currently struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, don’t delay seeking help. Contact us at California Highlands and speak to one of our knowledgeable representatives that can help you locate a treatment facility today! 888-969-8755