Creative Sobriety

Using Art Therapy to Treat Addiction

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May 2014

Art Therapy to Treat Addiction

artists and addiction

The use of art therapy in treating addiction has become a common practice in the rehabs and addiction treatment centers of North America. Art therapy, in the form of painting, drawing or making collages, has been found to hold a number of benefits for addicts. The artistic process is so beneficial that many rehabs and addiction treatment centers list it as part of their program and treatment plan. People are equipped with a creative part of the brain and making use of it to ease the symptoms and tendencies of addiction has proven to be highly successful.

The artistic process connects addicts to under-resourced parts of the brain and ways of thinking that have long been forgotten about. Using the creative part of the brain opens up channels in the neural network that have retired, and makes it possible to change thought patterns simply through the act of creating. This is very useful to addicts who’s primary goal is to change their thought and behavioral patterns.

The arts also seem to have a calming “zen” type effect on people. Any process that people can do recreationally that does not require much of the problem solving faculty is good for people. Delving into a creative process that allows for practicing skills but also having total creative freedom is very good for the human mind. The sense of control it gives the artist is therapeutic, and the freedom to execute a creative vision is invigorating and restorative.

Merely being able to express emotions through the creative process is reason enough for recovering addicts to participate in art creation. A person can express anything they are feeling through art. The use of color, light and shadow can convey mood. The subject of the art piece can be used to direct emotion toward. The artist can use the art as a discovery process, moving forward into it without planning it out. Or, they can execute an artistic vision they are having, purging their emotions in a healthy, productive way onto their chosen canvas.

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Art Therapy

art therapyThe therapeutic elements of art creation are many. Art is good for the mind and the soul on many levels. Art comes in many varieties, but its objective is always the same: to create something that will provide entertainment, enlightenment and information to an audience. This experience may be intellectual or sensory. The therapeutic element of creating art comes from the creative process and through the presentation of the finished product. Creativity is innate in humans, and regardless of your personality, chances are you are creatively talented in one way or another.

The visual arts are a common method of expressing one’s artistic abilities. This may include drawing, painting, collaging or any number of digital art designs. This method is popular because the materials are easy to find, but also because the concept is simple while the art itself can be as complex as a person desires.

Performance art is another widespread artistic release. Performance art may include singing, dancing, playing a musical instrument, acting in a play or musical or a number of other performative modes of expression. Live performance art is for those who are brave enough to express their craft with people watching.

The literary arts are for those who are gifted with words. This usually involves some form of creative writing, but can arguably extend to essay, article and other forms of writing as well. Putting work into creating a piece of writing that you are proud of can be enormously rewarding and can help you gain self-awareness.

The culinary arts are a favorite among foodies. Putting thought, skill and artistic flare into cooking can result in true masterpieces, or simply a delicious, savory meal. Many people swear by cooking as their most valuable stress release during the week.

Of course, these are not the only art forms available to people in their spare time. Art is very diverse and an artistic process can be found in many areas of life.

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