Complementary Therapy for Addiction: "Drumming Out Drugs"


American Journal of Public Health




OBJECTIVES: This article examines drumming activities as complementary addiction treatments and discusses their reported effects. METHODS: I observed drumming circles for substance abuse (as a participant), interviewed counselors and Internet mailing list participants, initiated a pilot program, and reviewed literature on the effects of drumming. RESULTS: Research reviews indicate that drumming enhances recovery through inducing relaxation and enhancing theta-wave production and brain-wave synchronization. Drumming produces pleasurable experiences, enhanced awareness of preconscious dynamics, release of emotional trauma, and reintegration of self. Drumming alleviates self-centeredness, isolation, and alienation, creating a sense of connectedness with self and others. Drumming provides a secular approach to accessing a higher power and applying spiritual perspectives. CONCLUSIONS: Drumming circles have applications as complementary addiction therapy, particularly for repeated relapse and when other counseling modalities have failed.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Emotional Functioning; Interviews; Mental Health; Mental Relaxation; Mood Scales; Music Medicine; Playing an Instrument; Recreative Music Methods; Relapse Prevention; Relaxation; Relaxation Levels; Self-Concept; Substance Use, Abuse and Addiction; Wellness and Well-Being

Indexed Terms

Acoustic Stimulation; Missouri; Pennsylvania; Program Development; Relaxation Therapy; Shamanism; Social Facilitation; Substance-Related Disorders; Virginia; Wisconsin

Study Type

Case Study; Qualitative Methods

PubMed ID


Document Type