Al was an angry recovering substance abuser
in a drug rehabilitation center. When music therapist Tony
Scarpa approached him about participating in a drum circle,
Al said, “Are you crazy? I don’t need to know
how to play the drum. I need to know how to stop my drugs!”
Al finally agreed to try drumming, “but just once.”
His reaction afterwards surprised everyone – himself
most of all. “Man, that was fantastic. The greatest thing
I’ve ever done.” Al went all over the facility
hugging people, saying things like, “You are my brother.”
According to Scarpa, it was like the drum opened the doorway
to Al’s love.
Every 15 minutes someone dies from an alcohol-related
incident. Over three million teenagers are alcoholics and
twelve million Americans use illegal drugs. The statistics
for addiction-related deaths are staggering. One of the
bright lights in the recovery of substance abusers is the
use of drum circles as a therapeutic tool.
Christine Stevens, Director of Music Therapy and Wellness
for Remo, Inc., (www.remo.com) points out that the key components
of drumming in a health-oriented drum circle match the goals
of recovery, specifically, building relationships, increasing
awareness of one’s spirituality, and helping users
to express their emotions.
According to Stevens, “Individuals in recovery are
so numb they don’t even know how they feel. The drum
is like an acoustical mirror. They get a taste of what they
are feeling inside by hearing what they are playing on the
drum. The drum seems to be able to repair the numbing that
occurs through their addiction.”
Bob Davis, a Certified Addictions Counselor agrees. “Substance
abusers become isolated from themselves and their community.
Their primary relationship becomes their drug of choice.
Drum circles break through the isolation and build relationships
with people.” According to Davis, “Addicts become
spiritually dead. Spirituality is about feeling something
deeply, and drumming helps users to feel in a nonthreatening
way. They can express their emotions without having to find
the correct words.”
On the forefront of the battle against substance abuse,
there is a powerful new weapon– a counselor-led drum