Colorful Approaches to Recovering Addiction
“But I'm not a saint yet. I'm an alcoholic. I'm a drug addict. I'm homosexual. I'm a genius.”― Truman Capote, Music for Chameleons
Art provides a powerful avenue of expression and understanding for those who suffer from addiction, whether it's as creator or voyeur. Today, I'm happy to welcome guest contributor, Lisa Hutchinson, to share information around this topic. Along with her words, I've included pics of my own therapeutic creative expression.
The use of art and art therapy is a major tool when treating and overcoming addiction. It is obviously not the only solution, and is not going to cure addiction overnight, but art has been noted as a huge help in many stages of an individual’s recovery with many types of addiction. Researchers have noticed this strong link between creative expression through art and self-healing, as various art therapies allow thoughts and feelings to be transformed into an artistic piece. Art is therefore been known to be included in many personalized treatment plans in many different forms that are completely unique and personal to that specific individual.
Addiction and Therapy:
Addiction comes in many different forms such as drink, drugs and tobacco, and people may be drawn to these for a number of reasons. Addiction is one of the main public health issues of our time, and accounts for one of five deaths in the United States. Many different theories and concepts have been introduced as part of recovery processes, and art therapy is one of them; using art to help the individual along their journey to full recovery. Whether an individual is experiencing self-recovery or has just received rehabilitation treatment, using art is still a popular factor in post rehab programs. This is mainly to avoid and prevent the chances of relapse, as getting people to keep creative throughout their recovery process will keep them focused on something other than their addiction. Therefore, making them less likely to fall back into their habits because they will have more of a chance of keeping on top of their emotions, through different forms of art therapy.
Journals always have, and always will be a crucial part in recovery processes with all types of disorders, illnesses and addictions. Making note of daily feelings has been seen as a self-soothing mechanism, helping individuals see their thoughts in front of them so they can then be confronted. The fact that a journal can be taken with you anywhere and at any time makes it even more successful, as it allows people to express strong feelings as soon as they are experienced, and keeps the individual engaged with their thoughts at all times. Journals are usually thought of as simply writing within a form of diary, however they can be made up of absolutely anything, from writing about your day and writing poems or stories to doodles, drawings or paintings. Journals also offer the chance to view a progression and development as the individual experiences their own journey, which they can see before them.
It has recently been concluded that addiction can be classed as a disease of the brain, having the ability to affect both the brain and your behavior. Most people consider addiction as a moral failing or a character weakness that should be worthy of punishment. Addicts are not usually given the opportunity to tell their own story or express how their addiction has affected them, which is where addiction art comes in as a way to send a message to those who do not understand the processes of addiction and recovery. Addicts may use art in order to express and convey their experience, while helping the public understand addiction as preventable and treatable. Art therefore has the ability to teach, inspire and aid people’s perception of different forms of dependence and habits.
These pieces present the unique and individual stories through different artistic forms. Some may be rather stark representations about their life and experience, however some pieces may be more dark and disturbing contemplation of life, death and meaning. Some may even reflect the allure of different substances, and the feeling of addiction, the difference between wanting and needing and even representations of withdrawal.
Art therapy and addiction therapy both take into account one very importance factor; the inner critic. The inner critic is also known as an internal critical voice that some people may experience, which judges or demeans a person and their choices. In various psychological studies, a person’s inner critic is arguably a possible cause of someone slipping into addiction in the first place. This is due to the fact that the inner critic has the ability to produce feelings of shame, depression and low self-esteem. Taking an artistic approach to recovery and treatment, allows the inner critic to be challenged. As it may restrict your creativity, engaging with art is the first step to facing it. It will allow you to view your life in a different light, other than viewing it as a series of mistakes and negativity. Most importantly, it will allow you to face any low self-image or respect as once it is presented in front of you; it can therefore be questioned and opposed. Overall, art will allow your inner critics image of yourself to be depicted on paper, after that it can be changed and altered.