As National Recovery Month rolls on, our first order of business is, of course, music. Part of maintaining successful recovery is enriching our everyday lives with the things we love; this is not only critical to our overall wellbeing, it also allows us to build the lives we want and put more and more miles between us and the toxic emotions that can trigger relapse. As Recovery Unplugged has said time and again, there is no more powerful (and easily accessible) healing force than music.
Whether it’s the unmistakable squeal of David Gilmour’s Strat; NWA’s blistering and uncomfortable yet raw and masterful flow; the haunting and beckoning sound of Johnny Cash’s voice or anything else, music is for everyone, and is an essential component of personal fulfillment. It’s there when we’re celebrating, there when we’re mourning, there when we’re strong and there when we’re vulnerable. There are multiple things we can do to incorporate music in addiction recovery:
Expand Your Literal and Figurative Record Collection
For avid collectors, there’s a certain therapeutic “thrill of the hunt” that comes with the record-shopping experience; for others, it’s a chance to gain exposure to new sounds. Try stepping out of your comfort zone and shopping in sections you haven’t previously explored. You never know how you’ll respond to an obscure German industrial track or Flamenco instrumental; or maybe you do, in which case it might be better to stick closer to your tastes. The Internet is also your friend and often your best ally in discovering new music. Spend some more time on apps like Pandora and Spotify looking for new artists. You may find joy in the simple pursuit of new sounds.
Start Going to More Shows
With music comes community, and nothing drives this point home like a live performance. You don’t always have to spend a week’s salary to see amazing live music. Some of the most honest and unforgettable performances are happening every day in smaller clubs and even basements, VFWs and American Legion halls. Oftentimes, the smallest audiences create the most solidarity (the first Sex Pistols show had 32 people in the audience). In addition to providing exposure to some amazing new music, these shows are opportunities to connect with new people who appreciate the same elements of culture and art.
Pick Up An Instrument
If you haven’t already, maybe it’s time to take your musical passions to the next level by either writing some of your own songs or being able to play your favorites whenever you’d like. Even the most rudimentary knowledge of an instrument, whether it’s guitar, bass, drums, piano, horns or anything else, can increase confidence, help us develop more friendships through collaborative writing and performance and provide an outlet for our more intense emotions.
If you’re looking for more passive methods of musical engagement, try just setting aside an hour or so a day to listen. Go for a walk or a drive, or just sit in a room and allow yourself an uninterrupted few minutes with your iTunes library. There are multiple ways to incorporate music in addiction recovery; and they all start with opening your ears and your mind.