Date of Award

Spring 5-21-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Dr. Ara Parker


This capstone thesis investigates the benefits of Community Music Therapy (CoMT) in creating social connections and reducing stigma for people suffering from substance use disorders. For the purpose of this paper, substance use disorders (SUD), substance use, and addiction are framed as part of an umbrella construct, and they are used interchangeably. Stigma towards drug users is a social phenomenon all over the world. According to Mora-Ríos, Ortega-Ortega, and Medina-Mora (2017) social rejection is more experienced in drug users than any other diagnosable condition. This literature review is theoretically grounded in the notion that substance use disorder stems from biological processes, as suggested by McBride and Peterson (2002). This paper describes the approach of Community Music Therapy (CoMT) as a beneficial form of treatment for SUD. Knight (2018) states that CoMT aims to focus on music-making processes as a form of social inclusion as well as how to overcome boundaries that divide or exclude participants. There are six key discussion topics in this literature review: (1) diagnostic and biological factors of substance use disorders; (2) the prevalence of stigma towards people seeking addiction treatment and barriers to recovery; (3) trauma as it relates to substance use; (4) key concepts of the CoMT approach in building community and reducing stigma; (5) a neurological rationale for utilizing music therapy to address social connectivity; and (6) advocacy for people suffering from substance use disorders. Considerations for this work, which are explored through this critical review of the literature, are found to be applicable and adaptable to the field of music therapy.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.




The author owns the copyright to this work.