How effective are music therapy and music-based interventions in the treatment of substance use disorders?

Music therapy (MT) and music-based interventions (MBIs) are increasingly used for the treatment of substance use disorders (SUD). A systematic search on published articles examining effects of music, MT and MBIs and found 34 quantitative and six qualitative studies. These articles reported beneficial effects of MT and MBI on emotional and motivational outcomes, participation, locus of control, and perceived helpfulness, but results were inconsistent across studies. Many randomised controlled studies focused on effects of single sessions, and no published longitudinal trials were found. The researchers stated that ‘The analysis of the qualitative studies revealed four themes: emotional expression, group interaction, development of skills, and improvement of quality of life. Considering these issues for quantitative research, there is a need to examine social and health variables in future studies. In conclusion, due to the heterogeneity of the studies, the efficacy of MT/MBI in SUD treatment still remains unclear’.
 
Hohmann, L, Bradt, J, Stegemann, T & Koelsch, S 2017, ‘Effects of music therapy and music-based interventions in the treatment of substance use disorders: a systematic review’, PLoS One, vol. 12, no. 11, pp. e0187363, open access https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0187363.