Complementary therapy for addiction: "drumming out drugs"

Am J Public Health. 2003 Apr;93(4):647-51. doi: 10.2105/ajph.93.4.647.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Humans
  • Missouri
  • Music Therapy / methods*
  • Pennsylvania
  • Program Development
  • Relaxation Therapy*
  • Shamanism
  • Social Facilitation
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy*
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin