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How Art Can Help in Addiction Recovery

Addiction is a deeply personal experience. During your recovery, you may find it difficult to communicate your story or verbalize how you feel. Unfortunately, many addiction programs focus on talking about what you’ve been through. When the words don’t come easily, art therapy for substance abuse can help bridge the gap between you and others, giving you a nonverbal way to find healing.

What Is Art Therapy for Addiction?

The act of creating something is almost magical. Without words, you have the freedom to express complex ideas and feelings. Art therapy for substance abuse is a treatment that harnesses the power of art to help recovering addicts express thoughts and emotions they may not be able to say with words. A trained therapist who specializes in this therapeutic modality is always there to facilitate the artistic experience.

Art is often a nonverbal process. Through art therapy, those in recovery can explore, understand and resolve issues they may feel uncomfortable talking about in traditional talk sessions. They can safely feel and process the full range of emotions surrounding their addiction experience. Participants don’t need to have artistic talent — they need to open themselves up to the experience and engage to benefit from this practice.

Art therapy is a versatile treatment that is applicable in almost any therapeutic context, from individual sessions to group counseling. This form of treatment is ideal for those coming out of longstanding addiction for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • Many recovering addicts have an underlying mental health condition, which makes verbalizing their feelings difficult.
  • Addicts often undergo some type of trauma, like sexual or physical abuse.
  • Drug and alcohol abuse can cause brain cell damage, resulting in language loss or poor communication skills.

Art Therapy Techniques

The end goal of art therapy is to find an alternative form of communication that allows those in recovery to convey their experiences. Some of the techniques and practices used in art therapy include:

  • Painting
  • Drawing
  • Sculpting
  • Creating music
  • Writing poetry
  • Journaling
  • Acting

The Impact of Art Rehabilitation Therapy for Addiction

When a rehabilitation program utilizes art therapy, there are many benefits you may experience, as your creative process:

  • Allows for healthy emotional release
  • Serves as a method of self-expression
  • Provides stress management
  • Helps you adjust during your recovery process
  • Decreases any denial of addiction you may be experiencing
  • Increases your motivation to change
  • Provides a safe outlet for painful emotions
  • Lessens the shame of addiction
  • Serves as a break from intensive talk therapy modalities
  • Allows the subconscious to express itself creatively
  • Gives an alternative way to describe and communicate feelings
  • Serves as something tangible to discuss with the therapist and your peers in a group setting

Art therapy can be an effective component of a comprehensive treatment program, such as the individualized care found at Gateway. We believe in tailoring our treatment to the unique needs of each patient who comes to us for help. If you would like to learn more about our holistic approach to addiction recovery, we invite you to contact us today.

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