For those suffering from drug abuse or addition, there are many different paths to recovery. This is a circumstance that is never one size fits all, and paths that work for one individual may not be the best for another. One common path that can be very beneficial to a wide range of patients, is that of art therapy, which provides an outlet and means of expression for so many suffering from their many demons. Here is a short look at some of the many benefits of art therapy for those suffering from drug or alcohol addiction.

Art Therapy Defined 

According to the national American Art Therapy Association, this tool is a process where patients use different types of artistic outlets, including painting and sketching to further their journey of recovery. They utilize the creative process as moderated by a licensed art therapist to delve into issues of their own emotional conflicts, re-orientate to reality, have a boost in self-esteem, and reduce undue anxiety.

Benefits of Art Therapy

The types of art therapy will vary by facility, and the capacity of the organization providing it, but overall they provide the same stated goals of helping the client artist explore their struggles, share those with the staff and their support network, and assist in the overall recovery process. This is especially valuable for those patients who have faced a traumatic circumstance to share it when they have not been able to do so otherwise, as often symbolically expressing their circumstance is easier to transition towards.

If a patient is reluctant to speak about their difficulties, art is a great outlet in helping them access their internal struggles and bring it out of them in some concrete and visible way. The physical process of creating the art can also provide a cathartic release, and give the patient an incredibly meaningful piece of art to be proud of after it is created.

Win-Win Situation: While providing the outlet and the structure of art therapy is hugely beneficial to the patient, it is also very useful to the provider and the therapists in giving them more insight into the internal issues faced by the patient. Often recurring symbols in the art will provide them with a window into the soul of their patient, who may not have been always able to verbalize what they were going through before that point.

Clinically Proven: Art therapy also has real scientific backing behind it: this isn’t just some pretty and hopeful ideal, but a proven benefit to our patients. According to a study by the University of Georgia, art therapy has been proven to lessen shame, increase communication, reduce opposition to treatment and help patients break out of the denial of their struggles. Art therapy practitioners need to be certified with at least a master’s degree and are carefully vetted by the American Art Therapy Association.

If you would like to know more about art therapy or the other services provided for our patients here at Discovery Institute, contact us today for more information about how we can end the difficulties you or a loved one are facing with substance abuse. We can be reached at 800-714-2175 and can’t wait to provide you with support and help to more forward to recovery.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MDDr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.

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