Just last year, CNN covered the story of a young man who struggled with alcoholism while in school. He had difficulty coping with his parent’s divorce at a young age and found himself drinking a lot in order to relate to others. Eventually, his parents sent him to a recovery program where he met a teacher who helped him discover his talent for painting. Even though he struggled with relapse and with a traumatic injury after an accident, he pursued his love for painting at an art school. He stated, “It relieves a lot of stress for me knowing that I’m good at something. Someone told me you gain self-esteem by doing esteemable acts. That stuck in my head.”
Addiction recovery is a vulnerable time where self-esteem is refined, especially as many people in recovery feel lost and hopeless. Addiction is often considered a disease of the soul because it takes people away from their true purpose in life and all of those meaningful connections that help them thrive. While not talked about as often, art can be an incredibly transformative process to build that sense of self back up. Consider trying the following projects to do just that:
- Collage. Design 2 collages, using whatever materials you can find around the house. On one, create a collage that represents the destruction that addiction brings to your life – on another collage, design your ideal future that’s filled with happiness, purpose, service and hope that sobriety can give you.
- Mindful scribbles. Without having any set of idea of what you’re going to draw, start drawing. It could be something definitive or it could merely be scribbles. See where the lines take you and stay glued to the present moment as you’re doing it.
- Poetry. Write a poem about what you had for lunch, how you slept last night, what forgiveness means to you or something similar. When you’re done, draw out your poem as part of the background.
In 2014, researchers published a study in the Journal of Addictions Nursing which found that both art therapy and 12-Step programs (such as AA) can provide individuals with the unique elements they need to heal throughout their journey to recovery. Consider incorporating more of these projects into your daily routine – you might be surprised what you find.
Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.
Call us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.