Substance abuse and drug recovery programs have started incorporating Music Therapy as another form of a rehabilitation method in Metro Vancouver.
The treatment looks to use different forms of music such as drumming, singing, playing the guitar, and rapping to help those recovering from addiction and substance abuse.
“Music for many of them is a way to express themselves. Emotionally, physically and intellectually,”
says Music Therapist, Kevin Kirkland at the Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction.
Kirkland has created a program called, Rap and Recovery. This program looks to give those dealing with mental health issues and addiction a place to express some of their hardships through their own rap lyrics.
He says that while many of them are hesitant to talk about their struggles, writing their feelings and experiences into rap lyrics gave them the confidence to talk about those struggles.
“Music becomes their language. It becomes something they can depend on to express themselves, zone out harmful environments, or even build their self-esteem,” says Kirkland.
Vancouver’s Capilano University was one of the first schools to introduce Music Therapy programs in Canada.
Capilano University Bachelor of Music Therapy Coordinator Stephen Williams says the Music Therapy programs has become a helpful tool to understand how people handle addiction.
“Part of understanding addiction is not wanting to be vulnerable and not wanting to feel,” says Williams, “…Some take the drugs or substances to not feel, to not be overwhelmed, or to not feel stressed. So, music is their antidote. It encourages people to feel.”
These Music Therapy programs have grown in the last several years, as Vancouver continues to see a rise in addiction and substance abuse cases. But Kirkland says Music Therapy was not created to substitute medication and counselling, but rather to enhance the member’s mental health, social skills and healing process caused by addiction.
Music Therapist at Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction
Stephen Williams, MTA
Coordinator of Music Therapy program at Capilano University