Drug addiction and alcoholism take an emotional toll on their sufferers. Recovering from a substance abuse problem requires an addict to confront and to open up about his emotions and feelings he experienced while he was addicted. However, many recovering addicts, and especially teens and adolescents who are recovering from substance abuse problems, have difficulties in articulating their emotions in conversations with therapists and recovery groups. Recovering addicts and alcoholics who are unable to talk about their feelings often find that writing and other creative endeavors are a more effective method for dealing with the emotions that accompany addiction.
Recovering addicts and alcoholics who have not done a lot of writing can easily get started with a daily journal. Like most creative writing, journaling has no rules and journal entries do not need to be profound or in-depth. A person can simply write few sentences at the end of each day to describe how his day went, or to record a specific event that stood out during the course of that day. Over time and with regular entries, a person’s journal will become more detailed and he will include more information about his feelings and reactions to events, often without even realizing that his entries are becoming more involved. He can then look back over those entries to better understand the external forces and his emotional responses to those forces that led him into drug or alcohol use.
Writing and journaling are only one of the many creative activities that can help a recovering addict to better connect with his inner feelings and emotions. Some addicts might have greater talents in painting or drawing, and their creative output can become a non-verbal visual expression of their innermost thoughts. Other recovering addicts might pursue gardening, clothing design, cooking or baking, music performances, or creative physical movement. With each of these endeavors, the creative thought processes that go into the activity become an expression of a recovering addict’s emotions that the addict is not able to easily verbalize in individual or group therapy sessions.
These activities have an added benefit in that they engage a recovering addict in the present moment of creation, which helps him to avoid the boredom and distractions that might tempt him back to substance abuse. Drugs and alcohol take precedence over an addict’s thoughts and activities and continue to exert a sense of dominance when an addict is in recovery. Writing and other creative activities will alleviate a recovering addict’s boredom and push aside the lingering pressure that drugs and alcohol exert on his thought processes.
Like all tools and techniques that addiction recovery counselors might use, writing and creative activities, by themselves, will not accomplish the recovery and long-term sobriety that a former substance abuser is striving for. They are one of several tools that a recovering addict can use to help him on that journey. Further, no two addicts respond to recovery tools and techniques in the same way. A creative outlet that works well for one recovering addict may be of no benefit for another. Counselors and addiction recovery specialists can best help their clients by developing a recovery program that is specific to their specific addiction problems and their personalities.
Sustain Recovery Services in southern California helps adolescents and young adults to discover their own best creative outlets to help them defeat their drug addiction and alcohol problems. Please see our website or call us at 949-407-9052 for more information about our services or to arrange a confidential consultation with one of our counselors.