Art has the ability to inspire people and make them see things from a different perspective. Whether it’s painting a portrait, writing a story or playing a piece of music, art stimulates the brain and encourages positive actions in people’s lives.
For those recovering from substance abuse, a creative form of self-expression can be an important step in sobriety. Through artistic expression, people are able to communicate thoughts, ideas or fears in a way that verbal communication is sometimes incapable of.
They could even discover something about themselves they didn’t know.
The benefits of art therapy are numerous, and here are nine ways it can help on the path to sobriety:
1. Improve Self-Management.
Loss of control is a common side effect of addiction. People may prioritize getting high over personal and professional responsibilities and struggle to balance their addiction with life activities. Art therapy helps to learn skills to focus, build discipline and live a healthy life.
2. Alleviate Symptoms of Depression.
Research has demonstrated a link between addiction and depression. Art therapy can help foster positivity in people’s lives and provide something to look forward to every day. It is proven to help combat the chemical imbalances in the brain that may lead to depression.
3. Improve Communication Skills.
Individuals who struggle with expressing their thoughts and emotions may turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to escape. Art therapy fosters self-expression and can help develop communication skills and the ability to reach out to others.
4. Address Past Traumas.
Many people who suffer from addiction are attempting to block out painful memories of traumatic experiences. Through art, individuals can slowly begin to express their feelings about the event and take steps to move forward.
5. Reduce Stress.
De-stressing is one of the top reasons people abuse drugs or alcohol. Heavy daily demands can take a toll on mind and body. Art therapy helps to convert negative energy into positive habits that promote lasting health—free of harmful substances.
6. Improve Problem-Solving Skills.
By opening the mind, art therapy encourages people to seek smart solutions to problems rather than rely on drugs or alcohol. This is especially helpful in young adults who may struggle with fitting in or keeping up with the rapid changes in their lives.
7. Build Self-Esteem.
Studies show that individuals who have more confidence and social skills are more likely to develop healthy habits. Art therapy helps build the self-awareness and self-esteem necessary to tackle various social situations and life challenges.
8. Mitigate Symptoms.
Art therapy can help improve symptoms related to physical and mental disorders. Among other benefits, it can help reduce pain, stress and irritability levels during recovery.
9. Provide a Positive Distraction.
Distractions from an addiction can be very liberating and refreshing. Art therapy can help people to focus on the positive while keeping their minds off of cravings and negative thoughts.