Addiction recovery is a highly unique experience. Not everyone will respond to a specific form of treatment with the same level of enthusiasm or engagement. Everyone has their own distinctive experiences and they have their own ways of dealing with those situations. This is no different in addiction treatment as every person in recovery will need something special to help them be successful. While treatment for addiction encompasses various forms of therapy, lifestyle changes, and recreation, the way these all come together to help a person in recovery is unique.

One of the biggest hurdles to overcome in recovery is coping with trauma and feelings that may be hard to express. Verbalizing the thoughts or feelings that drive many into abusing drugs or alcohol can be painful and may seem impossible to explore. Rather than expressing these overwhelming feelings, many turn to drugs or alcohol to silence them. This exacerbates the problem and worsens a person’s situation.

Rather than using a traditional therapeutic approach to exploring these issues, creativity has become a healthy explorative alternative. Creativity provides a safe place to express oneself without limiting oneself to words. Putting thoughts and energy into music, dance, song, paintings, drawings, or photographs can provide a healthy release for those struggling to express themselves and their needs in treatment.

How Creativity in Recovery Helps the Process

While some may express that substance abuse makes them more creative, in reality, addiction suppresses creativity and self-expression. Using art therapy, music therapy, and other forms of creative expression in treatment can allow people to express how they feel without being limited to their words. Some feelings are hard to verbalize and creative outlets provide a safe way to get through difficult experiences.

  1. Expressing shame: Addiction can cause a person to feel guilt or shame. This can be because of the addiction itself, things the person has done under the influence, or because of things that have happened to them. Shame or guilt can trigger relapse because substances provide an escape from those feelings. Instead, using creativity to express these feelings can be incredibly impactful. Some of the most difficult topics to explore can be more easily broached through a creativity outlet.
  2. Creativity encourages healing: Some trauma is too difficult to talk about. For some people, it is easier to work through trauma using an artistic medium. A therapist can help guide them through the process of channeling their feelings into art so that they may one day be able to talk about it rather than using drugs and alcohol to mask it.
  3. Taking control of emotions: Studies show that creative outlets can reduce stress and minimize the effects of negative emotions. Creative expression allows a person to connect to their emotions and begin the healing process.
  4. Coping with loss: While talking about a loss has long been the standard approach to dealing with it, studies indicate that writing about trauma can be incredibly powerful as well. Writing about thoughts and feelings associated with a difficult experience can help a person release negative emotions, process how they feel, and start taking steps in a positive direction.
  5. Exploring new interests: In addition to helping a person cope with trauma, creativity allows a person to explore their interests and develop new hobbies. Creative outlets can help improve a person’s ability to recover from stress at work, which in turn, improves their performance at work.
  6. Encourages play: Creativity encourages a person to be playful. It can be easy to get wound up in stress. We often forget how to be carefree and just have fun. Creativity provides a safe place to let loose and enjoy oneself. Playful outlets such as dance, music, and sports can improve mood, help a person feel more in control, and reduce stress.
  7. Creative outlets allow you to escape: Many express feeling as though they get lost in the process. Creative expression can allow you to lose yourself in the moment, creating a sense of hyper-focus and fulfillment. This is a rewarding feeling as it allows a person to just be completely immersed in a task for the sake of doing it.

Successful addiction recovery requires individualized care designed to address the unique needs of the person. Because everyone responds to various forms of treatment differently, it is important to have an array of treatment options available. Some therapeutic approaches will be more effective than others. Offering a mixture of verbal, behavioral, experiential, and explorative therapies can help many articulate thoughts and feelings they would be unable to communicate otherwise. Creative outlets provide a means of communicating where words may not work. It provides an avenue for exploration and the ability for many to build a foundation for expression and healing.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, we are here to help. Give us a call at 888.855.6877 or send us a message below and one of our admissions counselors will do their best to get you the help you need.


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