Drumming out the drugs: How drumming can strengthen your addiction recovery
Drumming is becoming increasingly more popular as a therapy for addiction recovery. This holistic practice has undergone much research to study its effects on the mind, body and soul.
Due to its benefits, more and more drug and alcohol rehabilitation programmes are including drumming as part of their treatment.
So, what are the therapeutic benefits of drumming? And, how can it help with addiction recovery?
Drumming is seen as a complementary therapy. Therefore, it can assist in drug and alcohol detox, deliver spiritual healing and can be used to help to rehabilitate prisoners.
In this article we look at the evidenced effects of drumming in treating drug and alcohol addiction, and how it can assist in building a stronger and healthier recovery.
Let's look at the evidence...
Studies conducted on the psychophysiological effects of drumming have found that regularly taking part in a drumming circle can strengthen your addiction recovery. It can even serve as a valuable tool in helping to prevent addiction relapse.
The application of drumming as a therapy induces a deep meditative state and an altered state of consciousness, both of which help to calm an overactive mind.
Additionally, drumming within a group has been found to have even more benefits than drumming on your own. For instance, the continuous and synchronised beating of a drums promotes unity amongst fellow drummers.
Drumming also provides a common focus for a group and serves as an alternative way of safely exploring and expressing oneself.
But surely, there has to be more to drumming than just promoting unity?
Well, there is more, and this is why it is considered to be a valid and effective treatment for addiction.
The benefits of drumming in addiction recovery
Synchronised drumming enables a hypnotic-like state that is soothing to the mind, body and soul. This is due to the theta-wave production and brain wave synchronisation that drumming therapy initiates.
Drumming circles are potentially the most beneficial for those undergoing a substance detoxification, whilst the brain struggles to find equilibrium.
However, studies on the effects of drumming in treating drug addiction have found it to be an effective complementary therapy at any stage of the recovery process.
Drumming therapy offers the following proven benefits:
- Sense of connection with other drummers
- Calming to an overactive brain
- Promotes relaxation
- Releases feel-good chemicals in the brain
- Is a non-confrontational form of therapy
- Treats the whole person
- Alleviates feelings of isolation
- Fosters mindfulness
- Releases emotional trauma
- Alleviates self-obsessive thoughts
- Distracts from outside problems
- Assists in finding and connecting to a higher power
- Unites the drummer with their inner child, enabling connection and self-parenting
- Helps to release anger
- Provides an alternative medium to other more traditional talking therapies
- Promotes greater awareness of the preconsciousness mind
Additionally, drumming has been found to be particularly effective in treating hard to reach patients, especially where other methods of treatment have failed.
Drumming has the ability to engage people who are otherwise perhaps resistant or unable to talk about their problems. It also serves as a form of focused meditation that is both relaxing and enjoyable.
Drumming as therapy for addiction
Time and time again, it has been shown that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to treating addiction.
Various forms of complementary and expressive therapies utilise different mediums. Thus, allowing different people to connect with their emotions and express them in different ways.
Art therapy, music therapy, drama therapy, and equine therapy have all become staple components of many addiction treatment programmes.
According to an article in the Journal of Addictions Nursing, drumming can help to increase engagement levels and help to alleviate feelings of anxiety, depression and anger.
The therapeutic effects of drumming circles for addiction recovery
Drumming with others who are in a similar predicament to yourself has shown many promising benefits.
For instance, one study looked into the effects of group drumming on anxiety, depression, social resilience and inflammatory immune responses among Mental Health Service users.
It found that those who regularly participated, not only showed promising improvements to their overall wellbeing, but that these improvements were more importantly - lasting.
The unity, mindfulness, and relaxation that drumming circles promote is healthful for anyone to enjoy, not just those of us in addiction recovery.
The following short clip shows the therapeutic effects of drumming amongst fellow cancer sufferers:
The benefits of drumming therapy - video
Drumming for a stronger addiction recovery
Drumming with others naturally raises your vibration and energy levels as your body and brain respond to the beat of the drums.
Socially, joining a drumming group or circle can be a great way of getting to know like-minded others. Drumming circles are particularly helpful if you suffer from social anxiety as they provide a common focus, without any added pressure.
If you are interested in learning about drumming, we recommend you find a local group and learn the basics from an instructor.
Once you have learned the basics you can then practice at home and use drumming as a form of present moment, focused meditation. Focused meditation is very helpful for those of us who want to meditate but typically suffer from a wandering mind!
Whilst drumming, the focus is on the beat, as you feel it vibrate throughout your body and notice the sensations that go along with it.
Drumming can also assist with spiritual connection and development. Something that appeals to many who are trying to grow and develop spiritually.
Drumming for everyone
Probably one of the best things about drumming groups is that they are accessible for anyone to join. You don't need to have a musical bone in your body to start drumming.
Drumming can bring relief from worries, calmness to your spirit and leave you feeling more ‘up beat’ (excuse the pun).
The benefits of drumming lie in its simplicity. Simple and effective therapeutic drumming beats are easy to learn and to master with the assistance of a drumming teacher or therapist.
If you are looking for a holistic practice that can help to soothe your mind and promote quality of life in addiction recovery, drumming may well be worth a try!
- Phenomenological experience in response to monotonous drumming and hypnotisability. Maurer RL Sr, Kumar VK, Woodside L, Pekala RJ. Am J Clin Hypn. 1997 Oct; 40(2):130-45.
- Complementary therapy for addiction “Drumming out drugs” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1447805/
- The Use of Art and Music Therapy in Substance Abuse Treatment Programs https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4268880/
- Effects of Group Drumming Interventions on Anxiety, Depression, Social Resilience, and Inflammatory Immune Response among Mental Health Service Users https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0151136