Michelle Peterson, who has been in recovery for several years, has approached us at Zest Infusion to help spread the word about how art therapy can help people suffering from addiction in their recovery process.
Michelle has started her own website RecoveryPride.org to help eliminate the stigma placed on those who struggle with addiction. Her site emphasizes that the journey to sobriety should not be one of shame but of pride and offers stories, victories, and other information to give hope and help to those in recovery.
See her blog article below telling you a bit more about art therapy and addiction recovery.
Battling addiction can often come with painful thoughts and feelings that can be difficult to express to another person. But with art and music therapy, patients find an outlet for their emotions, a way to occupy their minds and a way to connect with each other. Whichever path you take, or possibly both, you’ll find the recovery getting just a bit easier with art and music.
If you are struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, you’re not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2016, there were 63,600 overdose deaths in the United States. In West Virginia alone, there were 52 deaths per 100,000 people. The rate of drug overdose deaths in the U.S. involving synthetic opioids other than methadone (drugs such as fentanyl, fentanyl analogs, and tramadol) doubled between 2015 and 2016, from 3.1 to 6.2 per 100,000. The problem is not getting better. But, you can.
If you’ve decided to get help, you’re taking a huge step toward a better life. It’s not easy, and there will be difficult times. But one way to ease the pain and struggle is by participating in art or music therapy as a supplement to your recovery plan.
Whether it’s watercolor, acrylic or oils, painting is a wonderful way for those suffering with addiction to cope. Not only is painting a quiet, soothing activity, it allows an artist to bring out whatever emotions they’re dealing with onto the paper or canvas and leave it there. Because drugs and alcohol can dull a person’s emotions, painting can bring you back to yourself, little by little.
Many treatment centers have options for art and music therapy, and for good reason. The expressive therapy sessions allow participants to express their underlying issues — the issues that likely led to their substance abuse, such as childhood trauma — without using words. Art can help you draw, paint or sculpt the way you are feeling, even if you can’t find the words.
Some art therapy sessions might ask participants to talk about their art and understand how it relates to their thoughts and feelings. Or, the therapist might show a work of art and ask participants to discuss it. Art therapy sessions, like all therapy sessions, help the participants become more introspective and learn about themselves. They can learn healthy coping skills through the discussions in the sessions.
Music therapy is also an effective way to help patients overcome addiction. In groups or individually, patients learn an instrument or participate in percussion sessions, where they might be encouraged to discuss their addiction issues or write music expressing their pain. Music therapy also helps participants learn to work together, to be social, increase concentration and become part of a community.
Music therapy can also help repair your brain. Learning how to play music can make connections in the brain that weren’t there before, as well as improve concentration, logic and focus. Music is also a powerful mood elevator, which can help you feel better.
One of the main reasons music therapy has been important to addiction recovery is that it’s fun. Participants are more likely to continue coming back if they enjoy the therapy, so it helps keep them on the path to recovery.
If you’d like to get involved with music and art therapy, talk to your addiction counselor about it. Your counselor can recommend art and music therapists who will help you on your journey. If you can’t find or afford the therapy, start on your own. Take an art class or learn to play an instrument. Begin writing lyrics that express how you feel.
Whatever path you take, stay on the sober one. Overcoming addiction is a long and difficult road that will only lead to better things. Your life will slowly improve, and you’ll become a more expressive and creative person. Art and music therapy will help you communicate better and give you a productive place to focus your energies.
Feature image by pixaby
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