Music Therapy to Regulate Arousal and Attention in Patients With Substance Use Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Feasibility Study


Journal of Music Therapy




Patients diagnosed with both substance use disorder (SUD) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often experience hypervigilance, increased fear, and difficulties regulating emotions. This dual diagnosis increases treatment complexity. Recently, a short-term music therapy intervention for arousal and attention regulation (the SMAART intervention) was designed based on neurobiological findings. Twelve patients with SUD and PTSD (50% females) in outpatient treatment participated in six weekly one-hour sessions of the SMAART intervention. Six patients completed the study. PTSD symptom severity was evaluated with the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptom Scale Interview for DSM–5 (PSSI-5) pre- and post-intervention, and sustained attention was evaluated with the Bourdon–Wiersma (BW) test. A significant difference in measurements for the PSSI-5 overall symptom severity was found pre- and post-intervention. Furthermore, participants showed significant improvement on subscales of hyperarousal, mood and cognition, and attention. The BW test completion time decreased significantly. Two participants dropped out before the end of the intervention due to craving. Concerning future research, it is recommended to define the role of the music more explicitly and to change the design to a randomized controlled trial. A risk for future larger studies is a high dropout rate (50%). Several limitations of the study are discussed.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); Trauma; Mental Health; Substance Use, Abuse and Addiction; Fear; Mood; Cognitive Abilities; Anxiety Scales; Mood Scales; Neurologic Assesment; Music Therapy; Neurologic Music Therapy; Outpatient Rehabilitation; Recreative Music Methods; Singing a Song; Rhythmic Sensory Simulation

Indexed Terms

Drug addiction; Drug use; Education--Special Education And Rehabilitation; Feasibility studies; Intervention; Post traumatic stress disorder; Substance use disorder

Study Type

Quasi-Experimental Study; Quantitative Methods

PubMed ID

Num Pages: 353-378 Place: Silver Spring, United Kingdom Publisher: Oxford University Press

Document Type