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Can Listening to Certain Music Make You Relapse?

I’ve asked friends this question over the last few weeks. Their response has been overwhelmingly NO! Still, it’s a question worth asking and one that’s been on my mind a lot lately.

music in early sobriety

See, the first rehab I ever went to, way back at eighteen years old, advised me not to listen to certain music until I had a year sober. They said I shouldn’t listen to music I liked when I was using, music that glorifies drugs or alcohol, or music made by active addicts and alcoholics.

While I sort of agree with the first point, not listening to music I got high to, I don’t know about those other two ideas.

For example, I LOVE Pink Floyd. Does being in early-recovery mean I can’t listen to “Comfortably Numb?” I also love The Beatles. Does being in early-sobriety mean I can’t listen to Sgt. Pepper’s?

Maybe I’m just overthinking things. I’ve been known to do that (hello – alcoholic here!). I’m not so sure though. Let’s explore this idea of music in early-recovery being a trigger a bit more in-depth.

Were My Therapists onto Something?

I don’t believe in triggers. I’ve said it before and, most likely, I’ll say it many more times. That’s just my opinion though. Everyone has different opinions and everyone is entitled to their own! That little nugget of wisdom was learned the hard way!

So, when my therapist in rehab told me their opinions, that certain music is triggering, I initially disregarded it. They were telling me that I had to go an entire year without listening to my two favorite genres – classic rock and hip hop (weird mix, I know).

I didn’t want to hear that! I was going through ten million different things. I needed the comfort blanket that music provided me. At least, that’s what I thought at the time.

Looking back on their advice, it wasn’t half bad. Plus, they were coming from a place of compassion and care. At the time, though, I just thought they were evil old men who were out of touch with today’s culture.

Whether you believe in triggers or not, there’s something to be said for avoiding triggering events in the early days of sobriety. As we grow in our sobriety, as we effect a spiritual awakening and connection, we’re free to do whatever we want (as long as it fits within spiritual principles, of course).

Times are hard during those early days though. I don’t know if listening to Led Zeppelin would have caused me to relapse. I don’t know if listening to 50 Cent would have caused me to relapse. I don’t know if listening to the same music I nodded out to would have caused me to relapse.

But guess what? I stayed away from all that music while I was in rehab, and in the months after, and relapsed anyway.

The Case for Listening to Whatever You Want

I kind of laid this out above, but I’ll repeat it because us alcoholics and addicts are hardheaded. After we become connected to a power greater than ourselves, the obsession to drug and drink is removed. We can go anywhere, do anything, and listen to any music without being tempted to relapse.

That’s the amazing thing about spiritual sobriety – we become free! That’s certainly been the case in my own recovery and in those closest to me.

Once we do the work and become connected to a God of our own understanding, we can listen to whatever type of music we want. Triggers don’t exist once we’re at this point. Our mind and spirit have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state.

Of course, there’s a very important caveat to that statement. We have to do the work! We have to be actively practicing God-consciousness. If we’re not, well, then we still have an alcoholic mind and an alcoholic mind always leads to relapse.

If we’re suffering from untreated alcoholism/addiction and listen to “harmful” music, music from our using days or that glorifies drugs and booze, then we probably will relapse over it. It’ll bring up a lot of emotions, feelings, and cravings we don’t want to deal it. At that point, it’s in our nature to drink.

The Final Verdict

So, is music in early-recovery triggering? The answer is both yes and no. That’s my experience and opinion anyway.

What about you? What’s your experience been like with music during the early days of sobriety? Let us know on social media!

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