Living life to the beat of music

Inhale. A powerful beat starts to overtake my senses. Exhale. A melodic rhythm starts to control the beating of my heart. Inhale. The captivating voice starts to pulse through my veins. Exhale. My whole body is in tune with the music. Inhale. The song becomes the euphoria to my addiction to music. Exhale. Some say that to them music is a form of drug; an addiction. They consider it a vital part of their lives, a necessity to get through the day. I concur. Not a day goes by without music playing somewhere around me, stroking my day like a canvas with the colors of every beat and tune.

Although music is not recognized as an addiction by the American Psychiatric Association, for anyone who lives and breathes it each and every day like I do, music cannot be anything else but that: an addiction.

“Music is used to regulate mood and arousal in everyday life and to promote physical and psychological health and well-being in clinical settings,” states a study done by Daniel J. Levitin and his colleagues of the Department of Psychology at McGill University.

Even though various studies show that music has some form of impact on us, none of them have yet concluded it to be an addiction. But many do not consider the effect music has on them on a daily basis. Music depicts a person's moods, feelings and thoughts. Music affiliates itself to our memories, and even tends to trigger them back after being labeled as long forgotten.

Anytime I hear one of my favorite songs, I immediately get a flashback of the moment I first heard that song, or a memory that makes the song unforgettable to me. Certain songs even stimulate my mood, either lifting it up, or tainting it with something unpleasant because the song brings along a bad memory. When I hear Adele's "Rolling In The Deep," my mood turns foul because I remember ending a relationship while that damn song played on the radio.

As I see it, music is an addiction because we have made it such a prominent part of our society. Music sells to a point where we cannot control ourselves from buying so many music-related necessities. People spend massive amounts of money on MP3 players, iPods, CDs, stereos and anything else we need in order to listen to music. Music is a trend that will never dissipate simply because it is addicting.

Justine Miranda, music major at Santa Monica College, says people listen to the type of music that best suits their mood, which in a way makes them addicted to particular songs.

"If I'm in a hyper mood, then I'll listen to something fun and upbeat," says Miranda. "But there are also moments when I'm down, I'll go ahead and listen to something upbeat to lift my mood. Music does that. It simply affects our moods and makes us addicted to the effect."

According to the study done by Levitin and his colleagues, people with varied pasts, preferences and personalities will encounter particular pieces of music differently from others.

In other words, how I live my life is how I hear my music.

I listen to particular songs that entice certain feelings in me because I like the reaction I have to those songs, therefore they are making me addicted to them. Every time I listen to Pink Floyd, such as, "Hey You," or "Shine On You Crazy Diamond," I immediately react to the songs with such profound pleasure that it becomes addicting to listen to them. Songs like that become much-needed hits to my addiction to music.

There are moments when I want to rewind back in time with certain songs. When I listen to The Doors' "LA Woman," I am right away transported three summers back, driving with my friends on the Pacific Coast Highway, singing along loud and proud with Jim Morrison.

I find it amusing when I see SMC students strolling around campus with their headphones on, tuning out everything around them. Some are even having conversations with their friends while one ear bud is in their ear, as if they cannot fully disconnect from music. They even ignore their friends’ blabbering for a few minutes just because that favorite song starts to play on their iPods. I am aware of these side effects as a music addict because I have a habit of letting them take control of me when the need to listen to music becomes eminent.

"I know I can't go a day without listening to music," says Miranda. "Whether it's in the car or in the office, I turn on the radio. When I'm on the bus or in the gym, I listen to my iPod. It's part of my life. It's an addiction alright."

But not only can music be dubbed as an addiction, it can also be used as a cure to ending addictions.

A recent BBC News report tells the story of a group of 80 people in Ireland battling drug and alcohol addictions with the healing power of music.

"The patients sang songs they had written as well as traditional pieces," states the article. "One song is called, 'I Don't Deed No Dope, To Help Me Cope,' which the singers regard as a statement of intent on their journey to recovery." They recorded their own album, spreading the message to end addiction.

Dr. Julie Sutton, a registered music psychotherapist at the Belfast Health Trust, told the BBC that “music is like a kind of magic vitamin for the brain.”

She also claims that music is "a drug, if you like, for their brain that is not going to be destructive. It doesn't matter how much music you listen to music is going to have a much more benign effect.”

Simply put, detrimental addictions can perhaps be healed by replacing them with an addiction to music.

It does not matter whether people consider music an addiction or not, because as far as I am concerned, if I need it every single day in my life, then I know I am addicted. Music is an addiction that can possibly be used to cure addictions. It is a powerful form of art that we all know of, and to many like me, it is something we desperately need.