Music Exploration helps patients discover real-life applications of the fundamental principles of creative expression in recovery as part of the treatment program at Serenity Recovery. Recovery from addiction is much more than just getting clean and sober. It is staying substance-free and finding the tools that will help. It is a lifestyle transformation that requires learning how to handle stressful situations and negative emotions without resorting to drugs or alcohol.
One of the biggest obstacles in the process overcoming an addiction that the patients at Serenity Recovery find is the reemergence of emotions that they used to hide from, getting drunk or high to numb or “escape” them. These emotions, such as pain, anger, guilt, or loneliness, can result from lots of different things – past traumas, perceived transgression of others, or remorse for their mistakes, for example. Understanding now that substance abuse is not escaped from these negative emotions, but rather a prison all to itself, they still need to find a way to handle those emotions positively and constructively like with a treatment program that provides creative expression in recovery.
The treatment program that we offer has many different supplemental groups that seek to help our patients find the ways of dealing with daily life that will work best for them. In addressing their reemerging emotions, it is necessary for our patients to be able to express themselves in a way that they are comfortable with, and there are plenty of avenues to explore. Some patients might be more comfortable with Visual Art; others might prefer writing poems or short stories about their experiences with addiction to deal with their emotions. One of our more popular groups that focus on creative expression in recovery is Music Exploration.
Music is an almost universal language that virtually all people can understand. Music is more than just a song, more than just words sung or spoken or sounds from instruments. It is harmony using certain melodies, tempos, and tones. It is something that resonates with just about everyone. Even when a song’s lyrics are in a different language than our own, we can usually understand what the feelings are behind the music and the message that the song is trying to tell us. Music connects us with each other on a deeper, often spiritual, level.
That personal connection through musical self-expression is exactly what our Music Exploration facilitator Justin Black tries to help the patients that participate in his group to harness. “People, a lot of times, look for a place to fit in,” he explains. “I make the music class a place where everybody can be safe in a judgment-free zone. Everyone likes music, and that’s a place where we can all be together.” This also helps our patients to begin building that strong support network that is so vital in the recovery process.
The Music Exploration group at Serenity is not what people typically imagine when they think about traditional music therapy. It’s not about sitting in a circle, pounding on drums or holding hands singing a tune. There is some of that, to be sure, but our Music group is more about the creative outflow that music allows us to have. It is more about the feelings and emotions that music can give us, and how we can convey those emotions to others. For some, it does involve playing instruments or singing passionately. Some may not be comfortable with performing but instead find the songwriting process to be an excellent form of creative outflow.
Still, others might find their artistic abilities lie in dance, or in designing and performing interpretive light shows that are set to music. “When I was younger, I used to do drugs and go to raves, and that’s where I started spinning lights,” says Serenity patient Jake A. about his participation in the Music Exploration group. “I realized that you don’t need drugs to enjoy music. It’s helped me make a different connection to music, helped me break that boundary and realize that I can do things sober, and enjoy them with much more fulfillment than with any drug.”
Finding methods of self-expression is just one of the ways that the Serenity Recovery treatment program helps our patients to develop effective coping skills for handling the stress of daily life positively. These skills are instrumental to remaining clean and sober when they return to the outside world and are crucial to the success of our effective rehabilitation strategy. Music Exploration, along with the other supplemental groups, builds on the firm foundation of creative expression in recovery provided by the core program options. They help form the framework where the patient can create a new life, one that is healthy, confident, and full of promise for a brighter future.