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Why Art Therapy for Addiction Recovery Works

Can art therapy for addiction recovery work?

Sometimes, there aren’t words for the experiences that come with drug addiction. The heartaches, headaches, and horrors can’t be worked through by talking them out. Instead, expressing yourself through art activates a different part of the brain that speaks a different language. The unconscious mind speaks mostly through images, symbols, dreams, and metaphor. Since art is made up of images, art therapy can be a safe way to access experiences that you just don’t have words for. Sure, talking out your experiences can also be therapeutic; yet at times, it might be necessary to reach for those deeply embedded images through art and other forms of creativity.

Art Therapy for Addiction Recovery

Art therapy is a form of treatment that uses painting inner images as a means to express feelings and thoughts. Another reason why art therapy can be so useful is that it can get at images that have been long stored in a person’s mind and heart. For instance, let’s say there was substance addiction in the home where you were raised. Children often attempt to explain the fear and instability at home by taking the blame for it themselves, but this is only due to the fact they’re not fully developed psychologically. There is often a high level of vulnerability, danger, and potential emotional and psychological unrest in families with drug addiction. In an attempt to feel safe, children will take the blame and develop unhealthy beliefs about themselves.

One’s self image as well as fearful images from childhood can be safely explored and worked through with art therapy. Art therapy works with the images in your mind. What it does is explore those inner images and replace them. Through the use painting, collage, or clay, a person can recreate those inner images so that they support their life.

Why It Works

Art is also a therapeutic way of safely feeling the full range of emotions. It’s common with drug addiction to use drugs and alcohol as a means to push feelings away and ignore them. Yet, art therapy gives a person the opportunity to safely explore feelings, especially those that seem difficult to face. With the company of a trained therapist, you can explore challenging emotions and paint them out.

Rather, than talking which is deeply associated with social norms, expressing oneself creatively can allow the expression of what a person might otherwise not be able to say.  In fact, art therapy has been so effective that there are psychologists and therapists who specialize in this therapeutic modality.

Typically, treatment for depression includes psychotropic medication as well as individual or group therapy. However, a recent report published in the International Journal of Academic Research indicates that art therapy is finding its place in the treatment of depression. It is seen as an effective method for reducing symptoms. And frequently, depression goes hand in hand with substance addiction.

If you’re interested in including art therapy as a part of your recovery from addiction, look for a registered art therapist in your community. Keep in mind that many drug addiction treatment centers have art therapists on staff to help facilitate healing and recovery.