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How Creativity Can Aid Addiction Recovery

Creative pursuits can help a lot when recovering from addiction. Many therapists and treatment centers now recognize the therapeutic potential of creativity and incorporate it in their approach to treatment. Many recovering addicts also discover accidentally that having a creative outlet helps them deal with the complex emotions surrounding addiction and recovery. There are several reasons why it’s a good idea to embrace creativity in recovery.

Creativity helps you express difficult emotions.

Emotions are often difficult to express in words. Expressing emotions in words is a bit like going to the grocery store to buy a pound of eggs; eggs don’t come that way so you have to convert your units. Consequently, trying to describe some complex emotion to a therapist or group may feel hopeless. Sometimes emotions may relate to some trauma that you can’t quite come to terms with.

In situations like this, some other mode of expression can be helpful. For example, painting may express what you feel more directly. You don’t have to be a master to be expressive. If you have ever seen drawings by a class of young children, say kindergarteners or first graders, you know it’s easy to see which children are happy and which aren’t. That never really changes. Your choice of colors, subject matter, and medium–among other factors–express a lot, even if you don’t intend to.

Creativity gives you a sense of control.

Whether your addiction stems from some kind of trauma, or whether you are facing new and challenging emotions as part of recovery, lacking a sense of control over your feelings and circumstances makes you feel worse. Creative expression is a way assert control over what you are going through.

Creativity allows you to externalize the nebulous thoughts and feelings and gives you something more concrete to hold on to. Writing, in particular, allows you to feel more in control of your circumstances. Describing a traumatic event and the emotions it caused has been shown to reduce the stress and anxiety associated with the event. Furthermore, describing the emotions in greater detail helps you better understand and manage your mental state.

Creativity keeps you busy.

One of the biggest challenges early in recovery is dealing with loneliness and boredom. A lot of people in recovery find their addiction had been eating up a huge chunk of their time, and without it they aren’t quite sure what to do. If you are engaged in some creative activity, you know exactly what to do with those extra hours. This isn’t keeping you busy the way your teachers used to do in school; this is doing something that means something to you. It might even be a way of connecting to others with similar interests.

Recovery is about much more than abstinence; it’s about becoming more whole, and creativity can be a big part of that. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox and decide on a treatment strategy. Call us today at 844-828-1050 or email us at to learn more.