Untitled Post Incorporating Art and Music Therapy into Your Recovery Practice

posted Nov 10, 2018, 3:59 PM by Lauren Hughes   [ updated Nov 10, 2018, 4:13 PM ]

Incorporating Art and Music Therapy into Your Recovery Practice

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Hobbies are a wonderful way for recovering addicts to find new purpose and productivity in their day-to-day existence. Addiction often leaves behind an empty hole in people's lives. Fortunately, creative activities can effectively fill that hole and prevent relapse. Finding productive ways to spend your leisure time will help you build confidence, make new friends, reduce stress and find happiness in your new, drug-free life. In particular, expressive art and music therapy are widely used in counseling settings alongside mental health treatment and addiction recovery. Here’s how you can incorporate these into your own recovery practice.

What is Art and Music Therapy?

Creative arts therapies are used by therapists to help patients express their feelings and discover healthy coping mechanisms through fulfilling leisure activities. It involves learning to understand those emotions that are difficult to communicate verbally, increasing your self-awareness so you can be better prepared to handle negative feelings.

These activities involve everything from singing to sculpture art. Simply listening to music, dancing, and storytelling are also aspects of art therapy that can be beneficial for recovering addicts. Therapists will often assess and identify the particular strengths and interests of their patients to determine which particular creative activities will be most beneficial to them. When you’re choosing for yourself, look out for an activity that reduces stress, makes you feel good about yourself, and helps you manage negative emotions.

How Creative Activities Facilitate Recovery

Art and music therapy has plenty of benefits for both the mind and the physical body. Music may be able to change the neurochemistry of your brain to positively affect the body’s feel-good system. Research suggests that music could cause our brain cells to release endorphins, suppressing pain and making us feel happier. Music therapy has even been proven to reduce anxiety and muscle tension, which is invaluable to people facing a rocky recovery. Also, composing and creating music with others in your recovery circle can help you understand each other on a deeper level, creating an environment that fosters greater acceptance and healing. 

At the same time, the positive visual stimuli involved in art therapy can change how people experience pain. For example, simply integrating art into the design of hospital facilities has the power to calm patients and improve treatment outcomes. Verywell Mind emphasizes that art is used to treat a variety of mental disorders from learning disabilities to chronic stress, making it perfect for addressing the many issues faced by adults in addiction recovery. Engaging in artistic forms of expression can help you resolve inner conflicts and learn to manage your behavior. Similar to playing music with others, painting, drawing, sculpting, or performing plays in a group is a great way to develop interpersonal skills.

How to Get Started

Implementing art therapy into your personal recovery practice will be a process that's unique to you. It's important that you pick a few activities that are relaxing rather than frustrating. If one form of expression, like making music or painting pictures, brings you more stress than enjoyment, try something else! For example, if you are anxious about creating art, try drawing simple patterns or getting an adult coloring book. These activities are highly meditative and are a great way to introduce yourself to artistic expression in a state of peacefulness.

There are numerous other options out there, including finger painting, journaling, poetry, dancing, scrapbooking, sewing, knitting and woodworking. Other, more specific artistic activities can pinpoint various psychological issues to help you deal with them. For example, if you suffer from anxiety, try drawing or a picture that symbolizes your anxiety and write down what you discovered about yourself afterward. This can help you develop strategies to recognize your anxiety and deal with it in healthy ways rather than turning to substances.

Engaging in art and music therapy is a great way to supplement your addiction recovery program. However, it is still important to integrate aspects of behavioral modification, cognitive therapies, and motivational counseling into your recovery practice. Get on track with a recovery plan that suits you and then talk to your therapist about how art and music therapy can be beneficial for boosting your success in recovery.

About Author:

Michelle Peterson’s mission is aligned with that of RecoveryPride, which is to celebrate sobriety and those who achieve it

Make 2018 the Year You Start Thriving in Recovery

posted Mar 6, 2018, 2:47 PM by Lauren Hughes   [ updated Mar 6, 2018, 2:51 PM ]

Written by Adam Cook

The start of a new year is the perfect time to take stock of where you’ve been and focus on the life you really want. If you’re in recovery for addiction, you have already been through the hard process of starting over without using substances. Now is the time to take that process a step further so that in 2018, instead of just surviving addiction and recovery, you move forward in life truly thriving.

Eliminate Triggers From Your Home

The first step in moving in this direction after you get out of rehab is to make sure your home is a haven that supports your new life, rather than somewhere you’re constantly bombarded with triggers. Rehabilitation experts suggest, “First, ask a friend, relative, or professional to assist you in removing everything that you associate with your previous lifestyle. This includes any remaining drugs or alcohol, as well as any paraphernalia. Then, give the space a good cleaning. Scent can be a powerful trigger, so wash all linens, window coverings, and clothes in a new laundry detergent with a different scent than you’re used to.”

Being confronted with triggers affects your brain and may make you feel fear, anger, and despair. These feelings may also lead you to think you aren’t successful in recovery and erode your belief in yourself. To avoid going down this road, once you’ve had someone help you clean your home and start fresh, stay aware of your feelings and try to identify anything else around you that seems to cause emotional upheaval. Being open to identifying triggers and figuring out what’s going on behind them is a powerful tool for moving towards a life where you’re not only successful but also thriving in recovery.

Create a Meaningful Life

Some people who are in recovery feel at first like they are simply getting by. That is understandable, as the challenges of day-to-day life are a real change from the immediate reward of getting high or drinking. In an NPR profile of three men’s lives after recovery, one of the men interviewed describes how it can feel like you’re starting from scratch, simply aiming for a life of contentment. To break that mold, it’s important to discover what you can do that gives life meaning.

For some people, holding down a steady job gives life meaning because you feel good making that contribution. Other people may feel like a job is just a job, but getting in shape or discovering a new passion makes life fulfilling. Many people who are in recovery find that boredom is a strong trigger, which is especially true among retirees. If you have just been getting by up to this point, finding a way to break boredom by jumping into a job or hobby can instantly fill that void.

Find Support for Long-Term Success

Your environment and past habits aren’t the only triggers to avoid when rebuilding your life. Social situations and friends from the time when you were using can also be triggers, and removing them from your life may leave you without the social support you need. Studies have shown that being in a good environment and having positive social interactions may actually be necessary for the changes to your brain that are needed to stay successful in recovery.

To find the right friends, take this fresh start as an opportunity to discover who you really are. Few people really take stock of their relationships and take an honest look at what kind of person they want to be, but you actually have the chance to do that. This opportunity can eventually lead to much more meaningful relationships that really add value to your life.

You’ve already taken the first step to recovery by quitting drugs or alcohol. Whatever has been holding you back from really enjoying life, now is the time to get your life back on track and make 2018 the year you start thriving. This process doesn’t happen overnight, but each step in the right direction is one step closer to fully living.

Photo credit: Pexels

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