Ways To Overcome Addiction Through Art and Self-Expression

There is no one-size-fits-all program used to overcome addiction, which is presumably why so many patients choose alternative treatment methods during rehab. For the artistic ones, there are several sorts of therapies for creative-minded patients that can help them move past their addiction. For instance, people who have a special relationship with the arts and music have a few ways that creative-based therapies can help with the recovery process.

The Importance of Creativity in Addiction Recovery

Traditionally, to overcome addiction often requires conventional therapy, mental health treatment, and medications. Creative-minded patients may choose to overcome addiction by practicing holistic healing methods into their rehab.

A ritual, connected, and balanced living environment is a crucial element to a successful recovery. Long term substance abuse wears the body down physically and impacts the mind and the spirit, suppressing creativity, and happiness. But those who start reexploring their creative interests can boost the part of the brain that was once stunted by substance addiction, making it active again.

During this process, rehab patients can start to examine their emotions more profoundly, providing them with more perspective of their addiction while creating time to heal.

In addition to treating unresolved emotions, creativity therapy also helps recovery patients to:

  • Heal from prior traumas
  • Increase work performance
  • Optimize focus
  • Inspire playfulness
  • Work through humiliation
  • Decrease stress

Creative Outlets in Addiction Recovery

The significant part about creativity is that there are no limitations. Creative projects are usually inexpensive and accessible in many forms, meaning anyone can use this healing method. Generally, most creative outlets require broad thinking and the ability to focus on your senses.

Some projects to get the creative juices flowing include:

  • Cooking
  • Painting
  • Storytelling
  • Collage
  • Journaling
  • Drawing
  • Ceramics
  • Music
  • Dancing

Art Therapy for Addiction Recovery

Art therapy has been used in drug rehab since the 50s. Since then, it has become a reliable tool by helping patients to display self-expression, emotional release, stress management, and adjust to rehab.

Art therapy is a portion of an addiction treatment plan that uses individual and group therapy, family counseling, 12-step groups, and other services. Art therapy couples well with traditional treatment services by allowing patients to break away from the intense therapy they endure daily. It is an excellent component when utilized with 12 step programs.

Patients can use their artistic energy to discover feelings of guilt or shame they were unaware of upon arriving at rehab. Many treatment specialists will incorporate liquid tools in their therapy sessions, like paint, which allows patients to feel the excitement of being out of control, helping them understand their need for rehab.

Art therapy helps patients tap into creative activity and enables them to communicate nonverbally. For some, verbal communication is not the most effective way to uncork emotions during rehab. Art therapy is a powerful complement to traditional treatment therapy because it provides patients creative ways to describe and communicate their feelings. Once their feelings have been shared, art therapy provides a visible, physical issue to discuss with the counselor and the group’s peers. 

Throughout the rehab process, patients can look back at the portraits they created and reflect on how much their original feelings changed. The more advanced patients can practice art therapy during the conversion process too. Once they illustrate their feelings of guilt or shame, they usually become more prone to express their happiness of finally becoming sober.

Benefits of Art Therapy for Addiction Recovery

Art therapy is an experiential therapy method, a recovery approach that addresses spiritual and emotional requirements through physical or creative activity. A background in art or possessing artistic skills is not required to participate in art therapy. Patients are only required to be open-minded to the adventure and actively benefit from these sessions. Many patients discover that art therapy is an enjoyable and relaxing way to discuss some of the more complex rehab phases. The creative activity provides a way for patients to process their stressful anxieties and emotions that can emerge during therapy. After treatment, projects like drawing or painting can be practiced throughout a person’s life to reduce stress, express feelings, and explore creativity.

Art therapy can help people to overcome addiction in various ways, which include:

  • Resolving emotional conflicts
  • Increasing self-esteem
  • Supporting self-awareness
  • Decreasing anxiety
  • Increasing social skills

A primary goal of art therapy is to help patients return to a healthy, sober lifestyle on a social, emotional, or cognitive level. It is especially useful in treating patients who’ve encountered personal trauma, like sexual assault, childhood abuse, violence, or a catastrophe. Experiences and memories that are too strong to face directly can be examined through visual media, allowing tension and fear to release in a secure environment. Creativity gives patients in rehab a feeling of control they might be lacking in life. In this sense, art therapy can be a coping strategy for the challenges of recovery.

Art therapy sessions can work as a kind of group therapy that helps create bonds amongst members on a social level. As patients help each other with guided projects, they develop new coping methods, share their therapy experience, and exercise their collaborative skills. Art therapy can also become an introduction to the joys of creative activity.

Art therapy can be done in many settings, like community mental health centers, medical centers, schools, and residential treatment facilities. This multifaceted treatment approach can be applied in the most therapeutic settings like individual or group therapy sessions and marriage or family counseling.

Benefits of Music Therapy for Addiction Recovery

Music therapy is another excellent method of creative-based treatment. Listening to music helps to release dopamine in the brain, resulting in a state of pleasant feelings.

This is the same rush that using drugs and alcohol creates, making music therapy a valuable tool that can balance the body’s natural dopamine levels. However, this is not the only excellent benefit that music therapy provides. 

Some other benefits of music therapy include:

  • Decreased stress and physical pain 
  • Reduced depression and anxiety
  • Eased restlessness and boredom
  • Inspired self-expression
  • Decreased feelings of loneliness
  • Heightened immune system
  • Enhanced focus
  • Elevated mood and positivity
  • Corrected sleep

Although enjoying music offers all of the above benefits and more, music therapy stretches way beyond only listening. Creating music can combine the advantages of creativity with music therapy, which turns into a tool of healthy self-expression and emotional examination.

Benefits of Self-Expression for Addiction Therapy

Exercising creativity and self-expression during treatment can significantly enhance a patient’s odds of a successful rehab experience. Those who learn how to manage their thoughts, feelings, and emotions will discover how essential it is during the recovery process. Every day, people have tens of thousands of thoughts that run through their minds, but most of those feelings are complicated to verbalize. This makes it very difficult for many people to open up about their emotions. Some people don’t understand their thoughts or feelings, which could have caused them to turn to substance use in the first place.

It has been said that once people identify and recognize their thoughts or feelings, the emotion tied to them decreases, allowing the brain to think more rationally about it, and then prepares the mind to handle it in the best way. Learning how to recognize and communicate these feelings is a vital part of any successful addiction treatment. Any suppressed thoughts and feelings can build up and cause negative emotions, which can trigger hazardous behaviors or even relapse.

For many people, it is challenging for them to open up entirely about their thoughts and feelings. This is why there are different forms of art and creative therapy methods that can boost a patient’s recovery success. Art and creative therapy have been proven to help most bottled up patients release their emotions, which helps them constructively confront them. 

Practicing Creation After Addiction Recovery

People who had previously suffered from substance addiction would recall back to when their dependence was dictating many aspects of their daily lives. A majority of their time would be spent directly — or indirectly — feeding their addiction. Once they had received a medical detox, completed rehab, and were ready to remain sober, they found they had a lot of extra time that needed to be fulfilled. 

For many people, having time to do nothing seems excellent. But for those who are recovering from addiction, the quiet periods can generate negative thoughts and temptations to behave destructively again. A great way to fill downtime is by tapping into the creative mindset. Fueling the creative passions helps to prevent the possibility of returning to old habits.

Use the time in rehab and after to focus on creativity and find a place to display some personal artwork. Find a space in the home to retreat and practice hobbies or creative work. By spending time channeling energy into creative interests or hobbies rather than addiction, forward progress will continually be made throughout the recovery journey.

Get Help With Overcoming Addiction

If you or a loved one could benefit from an art and creativity treatment approach, Unity Behavioral Health can help. Contact us today and allow our team of treatment specialists to answer all questions so you can receive the help needed.

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