A critical scoping review about the impact of music in the lives of young adults who use drugs.

Notice bibliographique

Cournoyer-Lemaire, É., Loignon, C. et Bertrand, K. (2020). A critical scoping review about the impact of music in the lives of young adults who use drugs. Drugs and Alcohol Review, 40(1), 135-154.


Music is among the most frequently used medium to promote young adults’ well‐being. To that aim, the efficiency of music is explained by its capacity to modulate emotions through its effect on the brain’s reward pathways. Hence, music could help individuals suffering from dysregulations in these pathways, whose experience of positive emotions is often inhibited. Such dysregulations are particularly present in individuals with problematic psychoactive substance (PAS) use, who are overrepresented in the context of homelessness. While few of them initiate treatment, they successfully rely on their own resources to promote their well‐being, including music, though its impact in this context remains under‐studied.

This scoping review describes the impact of music on the well‐being, PAS use and addictive trajectory of young housed and homeless individuals with problematic PAS use. Eleven French and English databases were screened for peer‐reviewed articles using concepts and keywords related to music, PAS and well‐being. From the 3697 results, 39 were reviewed. Results were organised according to the observed impact of music and analysed critically.

Key Findings
Literature shows that PAS users value the impact of music in meeting emotional, psychological and social needs, especially when they experience homelessness. Yet, research has been highly limited to the harmful consequences of music, limiting our knowledge of its potential benefits.

Implications and Conclusion
To deepen our understanding about the impact of music, future research should endorse a broader perspective and consider the personal and contextual experiences accompanying the involvement in music, factors that were traditionally overlooked.


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Karine Bertrand

Appartenance aux volets