John McAndrew, a music therapist, and Sheri Dawson, keynote speaker and director of behavioral health for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, play together June 28 at the NAADAC conference at Bellevue University’s Lozier Center campus.

Music and recovery was the main focus of the Nebraska Association of Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Co-Addiction conference at Bellevue University’s Lozier Center campus in northwest Omaha.

The presentation, “Music and Romancing the Brain,” featured music therapist John McAndrew and NAADAC Director Cynthia Moreno Tuohy singing and playing instruments to a group of health care professionals, addiction counselors and educators. Some of those participants even joined in to make music of their own.

Tom Barr, president of NAADAC, said it was important to have a such a conference in Nebraska.

“NAADAC has been absent in Nebraska for a few years, so just last year a number of professionals throughout the state got together and decided to reform a Nebraska affiliate,” Barr said.

Moreno Tuohy said she’s always liked helping with addiction and getting people treatment and recovering, while also helping clinicians find different ways to help their clients.

“A lot of clinicians understand recovery, and I think it helps them to have practical ways to work with clients to help them change their brain patterns,” Moreno Tuohy said.

“There’s so much new research about the brain, we want them to understand that up-to-date information so they can use it and help people recover for life.”

McAndrew, who works at Cumberland Heights in Nashville, Tenn., said his presentations showcase the power of music through therapy and recovery.

“Music is a powerful tool to affect their thinking and feelings as we use stories in songs,” McAndrew said.

Barr said music has been a positive influence for decades for all people.

“Throughout the years, there’s been a number of approaches that have been used to address addiction and mental health issues, some more successful than others,” he said. “In my opinion, (music) has been underutilized and so this is an attempt to help Nebraska practitioners become more familiar with the effect it has on the brain.”

McAndrew said he enjoyed visiting Nebraska and knows there’s an importance of teaching about NAADAC in the state.

“These are the people that are on the ground really fighting this epidemic of alcohol and opioids,” he said. “I really enjoy performing for them and the music adds a little something different.”

For more information on NAADAC, visit naadac.org, and for more information on McAndrew, visit inthishour.org.

Email: cheyenne.alexis@bellevueleader.com Phone: 402-505-3617

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.