Art in Recovery
Creativity can play an important role in addiction recovery. Having a creative experience has been shown to be healing in many ways. Here are a few examples:
--A pathway through shame. Addicts carry a great deal of guilt and shame that can be difficult to put into words. Creative approaches can help them process these feelings so they don’t trigger a relapse.
--A chance for vicarious healing. People who have experienced trauma and are not yet ready to talk about it may be able to describe their pain through art, writing or role play, or they may see their own pain in someone else’s creative expression.
---Regulates emotions. Engaging in a creative activity can open a new channel for people to connect with their emotions. For example, studies show that listening to music can foster a healing environment and reduce stress.
---Assists in coping with loss. Talk therapy has long been a standard approach for helping people through loss and life transitions. Studies have shown that writing about one’s experience is another form of traumatic disclosure that can be cathartic. --
Supports mastery in other areas. People who participate in creative pursuits not only fuel their creativity, but they may also become more proficient in other aspects of their lives.
---Increases playfulness. People are often so wounded by life that they forget what it is like to be childlike and carefree. Creativity can help connect people to a more fun, lighthearted part of themselves. Creative activities that promote play such as dance, rock climbing or chess also have been shown to help people feel more in control of their environment.
---Creates opportunities for “flow.” Many artists describe getting lost in the creative process. Studies show creativity changes the brain and allows people an uninterrupted or purer focus. Creativity research calls it “flow.”