It’s good to have a hobby in addiction recovery. Hobbies keep boredom under control, challenge you to learn new things, and give you a sense of accomplishment. Trying to learn something new or complete a project gives you a sense of purpose and direction. Immersing yourself in a hobby is also an excellent way to distract yourself from cravings. There are many possible hobbies you can pick up in recovery--chess, tennis, fishing, painting, dancing, cooking, or anything else you enjoy that’s challenging enough to keep you engaged for a while. Music has many features that make it an excellent hobby for recovery.
Music requires concentration.
People starting out in recovery often complain that their concentration is weak. They try to focus but they just space out. There are two main reasons for this. First, brains scans have shown that addiction can weaken your prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain responsible for attention, working memory, and self-control. Second, people starting out in recovery typically have low dopamine levels after a long time of using substances that flood the brain with excess dopamine. This low dopamine can cause depression, apathy, and lack of motivation. It can also make concentration difficult since dopamine is involved with goal-oriented behavior. There’s no quick way to fix low dopamine or an underactive prefrontal cortex, but doing activities that require concentration can help. Music is just such an activity. It challenges your working memory, your attention, your coordination, and your situational awareness in an enjoyable way.
Drumming and singing have been shown to reduce depression.
Depression and anxiety are common among people who struggle with substance use and people starting recovery. Studies have found that both drumming and singing can improve your mood over the course of several weeks. Researchers at the University of East Anglia studied participants in a program called Sing Your Heart Out, or SYHO, over the course of six months. SYHO is a community group that hosts singing workshops open to anyone. Many participants have a history of mental illness, including depression and anxiety. The researchers found that participating in the group significantly increased their sense of wellbeing. Although the key to SYHO’s success appears to be social connection, singing, when done properly, also forces you to keep a good posture and breathe deeply, both of which also improve mood.
Other studies have found that drumming can also improve your mood. One study by the Royal College of Music followed 76 participants for 10 weeks and found that weekly drumming reduced symptoms of anxiety by 20 percent and reduced symptoms of depression by 38 percent--both significant improvements. Two other advantages of drumming are that drummers are always in high demand and most people can grasp the basics pretty quickly.
Music can be social.
In the studies of both singing and drumming, researchers found that the effects were more powerful when participating in a group. Music is an excellent way to connect with other people. You have to practice listening, anticipation, and cooperation. Instead of just chatting, you get to share a creative experience.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction or mental illness, we can help. Recovery Ways is a premier drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility located in Salt Lake City, Utah. We have the resources to effectively treat a dual diagnosis. Our mission is to provide the most cost-effective, accessible substance abuse treatment to as many people as possible. Request information online or call us today at 1-888-986-7848.