Understanding the Benefits of Art Therapy in Addiction Treatment

Introduction to Art Therapy in Addiction Treatment

Art therapy isn’t just for children, it can be beneficial to adults too. It can be part of the healing process and help people stay sober from substance abuse as well as facing mental disorders. It’s most beneficial when used along with traditional therapy addiction treatment techniques. Patients who would benefit from art therapy usually have trouble expressing their feelings and have repressed and pent-up feelings. Art therapy can help patients express their emotions if they aren’t much of a talker and be open to a stranger about how they are feeling right away. Using artwork to express how they are feeling deep down can open up repressed and unconscious emotions they didn’t even realize they were feeling. Art can express what some might fear to say out loud in front of someone other than themself.

What is Art Therapy?

Art therapy is completely focused on the creative process as a healing technique. It’s not just one factor, it’s all-encompassing when pertaining to just expressing yourself through art. It can help with improving self-esteem, managing addiction, improving anxiety and depression symptoms, and coping with recovery. Art therapy can open up new background about patients’ pasts, situations, and relationships that the therapist and medical professionals didn’t know about before. In art therapy, there are no rules or assignments on what they should create during art therapy. It can take time to not want something perfect, but eventually, the patient will feel it’s a form of catharsis to create art. 

Art Therapy Techniques in Addiction

One of the goals of art therapy is to take advantage of the creative process and help people express themselves in a safe place and gain personal insight that wasn’t conscious to them until doing art therapy. Some of the common art therapy techniques used for someone with substance abuse are: 

  • Coloring
  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Scrapbooking
  • Sculpting
  • Digital art
  • Collages
  • Photography
  • Sculpting
  • Finger painting
  • Working with clay

Whatever platform patients use for art therapy, they can still get all the benefits of it and find the common themes and conflicts in their artwork. This might be affecting their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. 

The Benefits of Art Therapy for Addiction

When trying to figure out of art therapy is best for a patient going through addiction treatment, it’s important to look at all the benefits it provides. Some of the benefits of art therapy regarding addiction are: 

  • Allowing a healthy emotional release
  • A good method of self-expression
  • Stress management 
  • Gives you help with adjusting during the recovery process
  • There’s a decrease in any denial  of addiction you’re experiencing
  • There’s an increase in your motivation to make changes to your lifestyle
  • It gives a safe outlet for painful emotions to be released
  • The shame of addiction is decreased
  • It gives a break to people who are also going through intensive talk therapy
  • An alternative way to describe and be able to communicate feelings freely
  • There’s more tangible evidence to discuss with a therapist and people in group therapy

Emotional Benefits of Art Therapy

There are tons of emotional benefits of art therapy. It can help patients with the mental health disorders they are suffering from in addition to the addiction they are battling alongside. Some of the emotional benefits of art therapy are: 

  • Reduces stress and anxiety: It helps you with getting rid of your worries and giving your mind a mental break from thinking.
  • Helps with treating depression: It reduces the symptoms that are correlated with depression. 
  • Provide a positive distraction: Helps to distract your mind from something other than not using drugs or alcohol anymore and having a positive experience using art. 
  • Improving self-esteem: It can help build confidence and increase self-confidence, allowing you to show off your creative side. 
  • Providing a creative release: It gives you new ways to express yourself. 

Psychological and Cognitive Benefits

art therapy in addiction treatment

When looking at art therapy, there are also specific benefits that pertain to psychological and cognitive. These can show up as the following benefits: 

  • Improving your self-management
  • Stimulating the mental function: It frees the patient’s mind making it easier to get into their unconscious. 
  • Addressing past traumas: Sometimes people with addiction issues have blocked traumas to better cope, but expressing emotions through art can bring up traumas that happened previously and face them head-on. 
  • Improvement in problem-solving skills: It gives people a different option that’s healthier for solving their problems without depending on drugs or alcohol. 

Art Therapy and Substance Abuse

One of the top treatments for substance abuse offered at WhiteSands Treatment is art therapy. The facility offers all different mediums for their patients to express their emotions through artwork. Some of the techniques to help their patients figure out what to create in art form are the following: 

  • The crisis directive: Draw about what sparked them to seek treatment and begin the recovery process. 
  • Recovery bridge drawing: The patient is told to draw a bridge that will show where they’ve been with their substance abuse, where they are now, and where they hope to reach with their recovery. This type of prompt helps with encouraging and giving them a perspective of having a positive outlook and goals to look forward to during recovery. 
  • Cost-benefits collage: Patients need to think about the costs and benefits of continuing to be addicted to drugs or alcohol comparing it to the costs and benefits of getting sober. 
  • The “year from now” directive: The patient is asked to reflect on how life would be a positive change after reaching sobriety. 

Art Therapy for Addiction Recovery

People going through addiction treatment might have a harder time opening up about their experience and how they got into drugs or alcohol originally. Art therapy helps people who don’t know how to express themselves through words and talking about it express it freely with art and different mediums. This therapy alternative treatment program can help with the recovery process by aiding in the counseling sessions the patient already attends. WhiteSands Treatment understands how important it is for patients to have both a medical and holistic approach to recovery, so they have experts guiding patients through art therapy to help them along the way to recovery. Learn about art therapy treatment at WhiteSands Treatment by calling them at 877-640-7820. 


How Does Art Therapy Benefit Individuals Struggling with Addiction?

People struggling with addiction can benefit from art therapy by being able to gain self-expression. Art is also a form of expression that’s free from judgment. 

Can Art Therapy Aid in Long-Term Addiction Recovery?

Art therapy helps with addiction recovery and provides another avenue of getting treatment. Art therapy is more of a temporary treatment and can be used throughout patients’ stay at a rehab center. 

Who Can Benefit from Art Therapy in Addiction Treatment?

Patients who have difficulty expressing themselves verbally can benefit from art therapy. Art therapy helps people express themselves through art and process their emotions and past history of how their addiction first started and what triggered it. 

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.