Can Art be used in the addiction recovery process?

Can Art be Used in the Addiction Recovery Process

Art can be a very useful tool to help addicts move away from their compulsive substance abuse habits. It is but one of the many kinds of therapies that recovery centers offer patients. The therapies can be individual, group, focused on specific skills, or with an objective to prevent a relapse. Art therapy can be provided in combination with other therapies so that the addict in rehab can derive maximum benefit. This can lead to quicker and sustained healing of mind and body. Art allows a person to express himself. Addicts with psychological problems often have their feeling bottled up. An opportunity to paint, write, act, sculpt, and, play music allows them to vent their pent up feelings. It can be a cathartic experience, which can simplify the process of forgiving and seeking forgiveness.


Art can serve as a tool that helps speed up the recovery process. It offers an alternative means of communication where the subject’s creativity is put to good use.


The different avenues of expression provided by art keep the subject busy and away from temptations. Art can help an addict rediscover a latent passion. This is of great value when addicts are discharged from an inpatient treatment facility and are back in familiar surroundings. Away from the protective environment of a treatment center, addicts need activities that can keep them busy, and help them fight or ignore cravings. Art can even progress to becoming a source of income. At the very least art can help addicts with a dysfunctional past connect with people, and pick up threads anew.


Art therapy sessions conducted for groups encourage recovering addicts to express their feelings, anxieties, fears, and hopes through poems, stories, drawings, and even music. Sitting with people who’ve had similar experiences helps them to come out of their shell. Comparing experiences offers one a better understanding of where they are coming from, and what they can expect from the future to hold for them. Nonverbal communication, as represented by art, is an opportunity for a therapist to understand the issues that a subject is uncomfortable to talk about. Art provides insight into what’s going on in the mind of the subject. He can then be encouraged to talk about it, following which, ways and means of resolving the issues can be discussed.  


The following techniques are usually employed in art therapy.


Gestalt – The therapist encourages the subject to use art for expressing his state of mind. The art can be used as a starting point for delving deeper or the artist can be asked to explain his creation in his own words.


Active imagination – The artwork is used a starting point to make spontaneous associations. This process gently leads to introspection and communication on how the subject feels.


“Third-hand” approach – The therapist offers his inputs on the direction that the artwork could take. However, the final decision rests with the artist.


If you wish to learn more about how art therapy can help in addiction treatment, then The Villa Treatment Center can assist you with answers. Our trained and experienced counselors will guide you on the options available for addiction recovery. Call now.855-591-6116