Substance Abuse Art Therapy Activities | Banyan Chicago

Substance Abuse Art Therapy Activities

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Substance Abuse Art Therapy Activities

While substance abuse disorders themselves are a physical dependence on drugs or alcohol, these problems often stem from underlying mental health problems and can bleed into several areas of a person’s life. For a person to find lasting recovery from a substance use disorder, their treatment plan should take all of these factors into account. Art therapy is one effective tool used in some treatment programs that can promote comprehensive healing for those in recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction. Keep reading for a list of substance abuse art therapy activities that can help you or a loved one who’s in addiction recovery.

Art Therapy and Drug Addiction

Sometimes words fail us, and it can be hard to articulate emotions or fears. Art therapy is a form of therapy that uses the creative process to help people explore their emotions. The goal of art therapy is to make people more aware of their feelings and give them an alternative way of working through them to promote better mental health.

Because mental illness and addiction are often connected, recovery art therapy ideas for substance abuse specifically focus on helping patients address their underlying emotions that may be contributing to their addiction and, in some cases, making their substance abuse worse. Using a variety of art therapy group ideas for addiction, patients, under the supervision and guidance of a trained art therapist, can use creative outlets and mediums to connect with their deepest emotions.

Especially when patients are hesitant to open up verbally with their therapist, art therapy helps them to express themselves in a nonverbal way. Art therapy activities for recovering addicts have been shown to help break down a patient’s walls, promote emotional healing, and even improve a patient’s communication skills.1 To see the best results art therapy should be used as one small part of an inpatient or outpatient program.

Substance Abuse Art Therapy Activities

Art therapy is about more than just painting a pretty picture. Trained therapists will use different substance abuse art therapy techniques during their group or individual sessions to boost the healing process and see the best results for their patients.

Below are some common forms of art therapy for addiction that therapists use to treat their patients:

  • Gestalt method: This method focuses on processing the present moment, without the burdens of past feelings or experiences. Using Gestalt principles, patients can draw out their feelings. Gestalt art therapy is highly effective in uncovering past trauma and initiating the healing process.2
  • The third hand: This technique of substance abuse art therapy activities involves the therapist working in conjunction with the patient. The therapist works with the patient to create the finished product, gaining a better understanding of the patient along the way. This art therapy method is crucial when therapy first begins and the bond between therapist and patient is not yet there.3
  • Association through art: Everyone derives a degree of emotion from most art. This approach to therapy helps patients pinpoint emotions through interpreting or creating art.

Patients receiving art therapy for their addiction may also engage in group therapy with other patients to encourage peer support and help them interact with others in similar situations. By adding art to the mix, patients can bond over their activities and connect.

Art Therapy Ideas for Substance Abuse Groups

Along with the different techniques used to induce healing, various substance abuse art therapy activities utilize different mediums. At our Chicago rehab center, we encourage patients to engage in these various creative outlets throughout their recovery journey.

So, art therapy activity ideas that you can incorporate into your addiction recovery include:

  • Journaling: Journaling has been proven to help reduce stress, manage anxiety, and lower depression.4
  • Listening to classical music: Classical music makes people more emotionally available and helps relieve anxiety.5
  • Drawing, painting, or molding something out of clay: These three art mediums have also been proven to help people deal with a traumatic event in their life.6
  • Dancing: Some studies have found that “dancing your feelings” can help people who struggle with mental illness.7
  • Singing: Singing in a group can help people maintain or improve their mental health, especially for people with mental health problems like anxiety and depression.8
  • Playing an instrument: Playing an instrument can not only have cognitive benefits but also decrease stress, a large trigger for people with a mental health or substance abuse problem. Group music lessons have the added benefit of promoting socializing.9
  • Create a collage: Visual art such as making collages can help people focus on positive life experiences, enhance self-worth, strengthen identity, and promote emotional expression.6
  • Write a letter: Many recovering addicts struggle with how they hurt people when they were addicted. If they cannot find the words to apologize aloud, writing a letter can help them express the feelings that they may not be ready to say face to face with their loved ones. It may also help them learn more about their true feelings.

If you are not working with an art therapist, you can still use these art therapy activities for substance abuse on your own. Do not be afraid to get creative as well. There is no wrong way to do art. The important thing is that the form of art you choose leaves you feeling better.

Finding Addiction Treatment

At Banyan Treatment Centers Chicago, we believe that art can be an effective means of helping some people heal and recover. We offer various programs and drug therapy for addiction, including a variety of substance abuse art therapy activities to give our patients a comprehensive approach to recovery. This holistic approach to treatment gives each patient their greatest chance of finding lasting success in their sobriety journey.

To begin your drug or alcohol addiction treatment at Banyan Chicago or to learn more about how we may be able to help your loved one, call us today at 888-280-4763.

Related Reading: Common Group Therapy Discussion Questions Benefits of Gestalt Therapy

  1. - Outcome Studies on the Efficacy of Art Therapy: A Review of Findings
  2. Psychology Today - Cool Art Therapy Intervention #5: Show Me How You Feel Today
  3. Psych Central - 5 Quick Facts about Art Therapy
  4. University of Rochester Medical Center - Journaling for Mental Health
  5. Reader’s Digest - 10 Wondrous Things That Happen to Your Body When You Listen to Classical Music
  6. NCBI - The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A Review of Current Literature
  7. BBC News - Dance therapy for mental patients
  8. Science Daily - How singing your heart out could make you happier
  9. NCBI - A Prescription for Music Lessons
Alyssa who is the National Director of Digital Marketing, joined the Banyan team in 2016, bringing her five-plus years of experience. She has produced a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. Through strategic marketing campaign concepts, Alyssa has established Banyan as an industry leader and a national household name.

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