Over the past few decades, as addiction treatment has gotten more and more advanced and intuitive, there has been a concerted effort to integrate creative therapies into rehab programs. The reason for this is simple: it works. Traditional practices like cognitive-behavioral therapy and biofeedback are incredibly helpful in the treatment and recovery processes; but they are aided all the more by new more innovative modalities like art therapy, music therapy and creative writing. Creative therapies help to provide us with a well-rounded recovery experience, discover new talents and unlock dormant passions that can help us during the more difficult days of our post-treatment recovery.
The creative process and recovery often go hand in hand, as certain creatively focused therapies help empower us to better express ourselves and achieve a special level of catharsis. There’s a great deal of satisfaction in working on a creative project that belongs to us and no one else. When we write that song or that poem or when we finish that painting, we’re celebrating the manifestation of our passion and the fact that we were able to channel our emotions into the creation of this wonderful new thing that is entirely our own. For many, there is no greater feeling that leveraging the creative process to put something truly unique out into the world.
Creativity has very real clinical value and can often make the difference in those critical moments when we’re feeling so vulnerable that we think we might just start using again. When our family or friends disappoint us, when we disappoint ourselves, when we’re experiencing professional or financial problems, we can replace drugs or alcohol with the raw and rewarding passion of creative expression. We shouldn’t let the idea of “good versus bad” even enter into the equation, as the more self-conscious of us tend to do. The art that we produce is a composite of our experiences and our emotions. How we choose to articulate it has nothing to do with quality or comparisons.
Recovery is comprised of a series of make or break moments. By immersing ourselves in our creative processes and getting lost in something valuable for a few hours at a time, we more firmly declare our independence from drug and alcohol addiction. By using our experiences in our art, we can find a way to relive them in a safe and trauma-free way.