Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Music Addiction and Bipolar Therapy

Waking up at 5:15am / 5:45 is a normality for me and this is a time I have to reflect, prepare for the day, listen to music, make CD's and playlists from songs I have bought to listen to in my truck or in my office. 

I usually start my iTunes within 15 minutes of waking up. Music is a large part of my addiction and bipolar therapy / recovery. I have always been a tremendous music fan of all types of genre's. I grew up listening to country in my dad's car and it evolved into more country, rap, rock and everything in between. 

Some of the best music I associate freeing my mind are from artists such as: Eminem, Beastie Boys, Gary Allan, Linkin Park, Brandon Jenkins, Jamey Johnson, Eric Church, Tim McGraw, Keith Urban, Kid Rock, GB Leighton, Robert Earl Keen, Wade Bowen, Jason Boland, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Corey Smith, Bob Seger, Thomas Rhett, Aaron Watson, Pat Green, Brad Paisley and more. 

All of these artists have produced music that sets my mind free when I listen to it. I will make a new CD and take the long way to work to listen to a couple songs that I had just downloaded. I have always have the music turned up and haven't cared what people think about the different types of music I listen too when I'm going places. 

Making music playlists is a passion of mine and confidently speaking, I'm good at it. I will go back and listen to playlists, cd's and I can identify what type of mood I was in or what my thoughts were when putting it together. Other people with me or around me can usually tell and will mention things to be about it, which I like, but I do it for myself.

When I listen to songs such as Changes, Lose Yourself, Déja Vu by Eminem or a Place for My Head by Linkin Park, it places my mind in a state of energy, motivation, optimism, relaxation, etc. Music expresses part of who I am as I live in active recovery. It may show where I've been, where I'm at and where I am going in my recovery and my successful life with bipolar disorder. 

When I'm having a rapid cycle with my bipolar disorder, music tends to slow my brain down. There are times I will listen to music for hours in my office, classroom, phone in my back pocket as I'm doing things around the house, at my parents house by the pool, etc. I identify myself, my thoughts and emotions with music and this is a strategy / passion that cannot be taken away from me. 

I find that music also allows me to be more productive when I'm working on paperwork / planning for teaching students with disabilities and writing my blog or books about addiction, self-help, mental illnesses and mental health. 

Except from Article on Music Therapy and Addiction (
"The growing recognition that chemical dependency is a serious and pervasive problem in society accentuates the need for trained professionals who are able to work effectively with this population. There remains, however, no distinct agreement upon state-of-the-art treatment strategies, (James, 1988b). Addiction, whether to alcohol, drugs, or some other substance, is a multifaceted syndrome, and treatment must be based on a comprehensive assessment to determine what genetic, psychological, and/or environmental factors are supporting the individual's behavior.

In the treatment of addictions, music has been established as an adjunctive, highly adaptable modality that is valuable in the holistic approach recommended for addictions work (James, 1988a; Treder- Wolff, 1990a). Music therapists with the appropriate knowledge and training in addictions treatment can provide a vital service to this, population and be a valuable addition to the treatment community.

Because many researchers emphasize the need to treat the "whole person" as opposed to "their addiction" (see James, 1988a), music therapy is particularly suited to interdisciplinary treatment teams. Considering the diversity of both primary and secondary addiction-related problems, music therapy may meet a wide variety of individual goals. The clients need to explore their feelings and emotions, lack of self-esteem, and inability to appropriately use leisure time, and a loss of group identity, for instance, are all prominent concerns that can be addressed by music therapy.

Patterns of addiction and defense mechanisms can be ameliorated by the creative experience involved in music therapy. Music therapists can use the socializing influence of music, imprinting of social messages reflected in the music, as well as the deeply personal associations to the individual, to educate clients about the substance abuse and promote relation to a group. Music therapy utilizes the power of music to facilitate recognition of a common identity among clients, and recognition of common beliefs and problems, thereby opening pathways for communication necessary for both group interaction and personal change. Skills in relation building, self-expression, creative thinking, communication rather than isolation, and awareness out of denial are important by-products of the music therapy process, and are the cornerstones of health and recovery.

In the treatment of substance abuse, music therapy can:

Improve the perception and differentiation of feelings

The feelings and emotions of individuals with an addiction are often a mystery to those very people. In the addicted lifestyle, a variety of psychological defense mechanisms develop, including rationalizing, minimizing, manipulating, projecting, lying, and denying (James, 1988a). Music therapy has proven to be highly effective in breaking through these defenses and in aiding the individual in learning to recognize and acknowledge his or her emotions. The dynamic, open-ended nature of creativity, inherent in music therapy, is a threat to the rigid, self-perpetuating addictive system. Treder-Wolff (1990b) discusses how this creative experience can be used effectively to work through emotional conflicts and inner blocks that are obstacles to growth and change. Music therapy activities involving emotional exploration, such as music listening and discussion, lyric analysis and songwriting are particularly effective toward this end. Purdon-Ostertag (1986), in working with drug-dependent individuals who were particularly negative and complained of feelings of boredom or "nothing," found that improvisation on these themes revealed quite concrete feelings.' The music expressed anger, sadness, a sense of longing, disappointment and frustration. In the discussion and sharing that followed the improvisation the clients were able to acknowledge the existence of these feelings, differentiate between them, and explore them further.

Promote self-expression and self-awareness

Expressing the feelings and emotions that the addicted individual is learning to recognize and acknowledge is an important step in gaining self-awareness and taking responsibility for one's addiction and recovery process. Songwriting or improvisation, for instance, may evoke expression of strong emotions in a safe, non-threatening environment. Song choices may also allow individuals to safely express themselves through projection into the song subject's experiences. Lyric analysis, of original or existing songs, can focus on significant words that the chemically dependent person has written or chosen and encourage expression of the feelings underlying those words. As Freed (1987) suggests, through the process of lyric analysis, individuals learn new coping strategies and receive validation for their feelings. Adelman & Castricone (1986) contend that self-expression often precedes self-awareness. During group sessions, they heard many "Ah-ha's" as group members grasped the significance of what they had expressed.

Raising awareness of societal and cultural myths about alcohol and other drug use also contributes to greater self-awareness. Much of this, can be achieved through, for instance, the use of commercial songs for beer, tobacco and other products that communicate the 
belief that to use these products is, to enhance socialization, performance, appearance and so on. Singing these commercials and creating new lyrics for them, consistent with the true nature of addiction, allows, clients to explore their feelings about being unable to control their use of harmful substances in a society that stigmatizes addicts while at the same time promoting substance use along certain socially acceptable lines (Treder-Wolff, 1990b)". 

Addiction and Mental Disorders such as Bipolar can be positively effected by listening to music and or playing an instrument. For instance, when Eminem goes in his studio to record a record and/or a song his mind is free to express himself with words and lyrics that make a difference in my life and in the lives of millions around the world. Other song writers and artists such as Jamey Johnson, have the same effect on people around the world. They are interested in what people want to hear, but do not base their songs and lyrics on mainstream agenda's. Theses two examples are men that write, rap and sing to help their life and change the lives of others, knowing it or not. 

Music Therapy doesn't need to be defined as a certain program or have boundaries that limit you to certain actions or genres. I do not go to a certain place to listen to professionals tell me about the therapy of music. I'm the 35 year old, middle class teacher, baseball coach sitting in his office or blasting tunes out of my F250 as I go down the road. 

When I was a teenager, I wondered when I was going to turn it down and stop listening to certain types of music and now I know the answer, which is never. Music is a key piece in my addiction recovery and living a successful life with bipolar (dual diagnosis). 

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