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When substances are used excessively for pleasure in society, or an individual uses a substance for reasons that challenge normal behaviour, they are in danger as being labelled a Deviant: junkies, addicts, alcoholics, abusers. There is debate about the causes of such behaviour that can be condensed to the question ‘are we born a deviant, or is it influence from our peers, and from other situational factors around us that make us a deviant? `. American sociologist Robert K Merton proposes that deviancy is caused by society and peers and not the body chemistry. (Robert K Merton) However, this is a question that has long caused argument and differentiation among medical and behavioural psychologists, the former believing that we are born that way, and the latter that we are shaped by life experiences.
In order to explore this question I feel it is important to be subjective, as well as objective, and will therefore for this paragraph alone draw on my own personal experiences. Personally I agree with Merton’s theory, due to my own self-analysis and actions that I have observed in myself, from underage drinking aged 15 in the pub, and leading on to smoking from peer pressure, which I have continued to do to this day. Playing sport, Rugby, did at the time change my attitude to smoking and drinking as I peered with different people. Changing friends in the 1990s influenced a change in my person leading to the rave scene and recreational drugs use, through own choice and experiments. As an individual I understood the risks and was conscious of my limitations. Using drinking as an example, I understood that when I was drinking, it was part of a social pattern within a social network, if I exceeded that limitation and drank in excess away from the social network, I would have a possible addiction.
Many substances that are used for pleasure can have an effect on our perspective of time. When we lose a sense of timing we can lose our sense of coherence. Episodes that take us away from coherence of life can threaten isolation (Reith 1999); this is when addiction becomes debilitating. When we lose the timing in life and lose the sense of timing of others around us as human beings, we need something to bring us back to the normal senses and bring us back into the community of other individuals whom we live our lives with. A medium based on performance which can assist with this is the live performance of music. Music therapists provide a solution were we can go into an environment and work with other individuals whom have also extreme deviances. Working on the timing of music can improve our coherent self, leading to a balance in our sense of timing. When focusing on music, an individual can clear their mind of all other problems, therefore allowing themselves a means of escape.
Why use music therapy? Music offers a non-symbolic contact with reality, it can be classed a holistic. Performing music with other people is a way of achieving a connection at a fundamental level; we become entrained with other individuals when performing by attachment and emotional expression. However on the reverse side, a Music therapist could potentially face the problem that the songs and music they are using with their clients may resemble memories. An example of this could be drug memories if that particular piece of music was part of the setting when using the drugs. If this happens it could trigger a craving.
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So can music therapy be a good alternative for the cure of addiction? In a comprehensive study of various books, online journals, videos, documentaries, and case studies there is a significant amount of supporting evidence to be found. This essay will aim to explore the various evidence found and reach a comprehensive conclusion as to the strengths and weaknesses of music used as a therapy for drug addicts, and whether it can effectively help to bring an individual out of an addition. The following chapter will focus on what Music Therapy is and how it can assist in the cure of Drug (drug being alcohol, smoking and illegal substances) addiction, outline the effects of the addiction and explain how music therapy can act as a holistic therapy to the addiction.
What is Music Therapy?
Music Therapy can be classed as clinical approach to cure symptoms of addiction. Experiments have had proved results on an individual`s relaxation, the relaxing of the mind, reduction of pain and symptoms with addiction withdrawal and the normalisation and reduction of respiration rate and breathing. Research has found that music therapy has also been successful with the treatment of cancer, brain injuries, and acute pain. Doctors have started to prescribe the use of music therapy by playing their patients different styles of music while undergoing surgery (vid1 linkography). This has proven effects of a supportive measure when altering key hormone levels in patients to speed up recovery, reduce blood pressure, and heart rate. With coordinated preparation of music therapy, clients can experience;
- Stress and Anxiety reduction.
- Positive, balancing moods and emotional states.
- Positive feelings towards themselves, self-confidence and feeling of high self-esteem.
- Intimacy enhancement of feelings and emotions towards family members and friends.
- Learning music skills gives the client the patience and abilities to cope with possible situations that may occur in other aspects of their lives.
Music therapy has had proven results with the development and learning skills with children, adults and the elderly whom have mental health needs and learning disabilities. Music therapy is recommended for age related diseases aged related diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Music therapists work from private practices, rehabilitative facilities, hospitals, nursing homes and hospices.
Music therapists consult with clients and they assess their condition, physical health, social functioning, and cognitive skills. The Music therapist will construct music sessions for individuals or groups of clients. A wide range of treatment is available from lyric discussion, song writing to live performances and receptive music listening.
Experiments by Music therapists have found evidence that their clients have shown remarkable changes in their behaviour of recovering from drug addiction.
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