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Music-assisted systematic desensitization for the reduction of craving in response to drug-conditioned cues: A pilot study

Stamou, Vasileios and Chatzoudi, Theano and Stamou, Lelouda and Romo, Lucia and Graziani, Pierluigi (2016) Music-assisted systematic desensitization for the reduction of craving in response to drug-conditioned cues: A pilot study. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 51. pp. 36-45. ISSN 0197-4556

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Abstract

Recent research addressing the use of music to support the needs of people receiving treatment for drug addiction has led to the development and implementation of music-assisted therapeutic interventions. We hypothesized that two different music modalities combined with systematic desensitization can counter-condition drug-related cues and significantly reduce the associated craving responses. We further examined the effect of the two treatments on cognitive and psychopathological components of addiction. Twenty-four individuals experiencing drug addiction were randomly assigned to one of the three study groups, namely systematic desensitization (SD) combined with listening to New Age meditation music improvised live on Tibetan bowls (IMT), systematic desensitization combined with listening to relaxing New Age music recorded in individual MP3 devices (NIMT), or a control group that received no additional therapeutic intervention (CTR). Participants in the two treatment groups received six sessions in addition to their standard treatment during a period of three weeks. Evaluation took place at baseline, post-treatment and one month after the end of treatment. Results showed that IMT and NIMT combined with SD significantly reduced craving in response to external drug-conditioned cues, while IMT appeared to be slightly more effective than NIMT in altering permissive thoughts on drug and alcohol use, depression symptoms and everyday life craving reactivity. Further investigation as to the role of music-assisted systematic desensitization as a therapeutic intervention for drug addiction treatment is warranted.

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