Overcoming an addiction is an intensely personal battle that everyone will fight in their own way. There are a huge number of challenges and obstacles to overcome, but with the right guidance, especially in the early stages, the chances of success are much higher. One unusual, but very effective form of treatment is known as art therapy for addiction, and it taps into the creative urges and talents some people have to deal with their issues in a unique, often imaginative way. If you’d like to know more, just contact our trained admissions counselors at 866-349-1770 for details.
What Is Art Therapy?
One of the big challenges in treating a drug or alcohol addiction is the initial cleansing or “purge” of physical addiction. Some substances can create a physical dependence within the body that makes the addict have a very real, physiological craving for a substance that actively punishes them when they don’t get it. Purging this physical addiction is an important first step, though it means dealing with withdrawal, which can be a demanding time with symptoms such as nausea, fever and even hallucinations depending on the substance.
Once that purge is over, however, there’s still an emotional or psychological component that needs to be dealt with, and this is even more important than the physical aspect. This is where one possible avenue, art therapy treatment, comes in. Art therapy is a holistic treatment that has been in practice in the USA since the 1940s and is practiced by professionals who are licensed and certified to conduct this particular form of treatment. This requires both an understanding of art techniques, as well as good psychological grounding in human behavior, therapy, and transformative therapies. Art therapy for addiction is exactly what it sounds like. Rather than use traditional discussion techniques like psychoanalysis, or counseling, treatment occurs through the creation and discussion of art.
How Art Therapy for Addiction Works
With art therapy treatment, the key goal is to have people in recovery feel comfortable about expressing and discussing their experiences and emotions. For some people, speaking about themselves and describing their experiences, whether to a group or a counselor, may still be too personal and uncomfortable. Art therapy for substance abuse “bypasses” this discomfort by moving the topic somewhere else, to the subject of a work of art.
Art therapy works in two ways. First, it introduces a comfortable, calming system of rules and regulations that give a person in recovery some non-threatening structure. Learning to paint, discovering the rules of drawing, getting a new appreciation for perspective, light, shadow or contrasts are all ways to bring back a sense of order and structure. The actual creation of art takes that imposition of structure and gives people in therapy a chance to express themselves.
Putting Problems In Their Place
By taking an emotion or experience and illustrating it, this gives a recovering addict a safe space in which to think about and focus on the elements of addiction that affected and mattered to him or her most. Then, by taking the time to present those aspects as a work of art, the manner of expression and the subject itself can be discussed with the art therapist, or with a group, if the comfort level is high enough. This puts the experiences at a distance, making it easier to discuss “the work” rather than the person.
Art therapy treatment can also focus on other works, not just that of people within the facility but classical and contemporary works of art that address similar topics. It’s always easier to discuss something that happened to someone else, giving people an opportunity to say things they might not want to admit about themselves when it’s the context of another work or person.
Dealing With Emotional Issues
This type of access to emotions is critical to recovery. If a person cannot discuss what they felt, how they felt and why they felt the way they did, it’s difficult to overcome the emotional issues that led to addiction in the first place. For example, if low self-esteem is one of the issues leading someone to drug or alcohol abuse, then confronting that low self-esteem, discussing it, and eventually coming to terms with it and leaving it behind are critical to long-term recovery. Art therapy for addiction can be one of the tools that brings these issues out, and puts them in a place where the addict in recovery can look at it, talk about it and ultimately take the steps required to move on.
While art therapy for substance abuse is not necessarily for everyone, for some, it may be the perfect vehicle to express and deal with the issues that led to addiction.
Art Therapy Is a Holistic Treatment
Learn about the holistic treatments that we can provide to help treat addiction and the emotion issues that come withit.
Contact Beachside right away to begin your recovery.