“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.”
Every person engages in recovery in their own way and those who have addiction can experience alexithymia, a condition in which they have difficulty identifying and describing feelings. Creativity allows people who can’t articulate their thoughts or emotions an avenue to express themselves more easily.
Substance use can interfere with our ability to feel joy naturally if we tend to turn to a substance to lift our mood or spirits. When changing behaviours around substances, it takes time to rebuild the ability to naturally release feelings of happiness, joy, and a sense of purpose through other, more common activities. Addiction has been shown to limit creativity, but intentionally incorporating creative activities can play an important role in recovering from substance use.
Creativity has no boundaries, and you are the one who determines whether something you create is a masterpiece. Encompassing your creativity allows you to explore the unique deep feelings, sensations, thoughts, and emotions we all have. Engaging in a creative activity can help us strengthen our emotional muscles; a type of resilience that acts as an inner glue that holds us together when we start to unravel. The aim is to open up a channel to a deeper part of ourselves that we have become disconnected from. Creative expression canenhance recovery and invite joy into our lives.
Here are a few examples of what creativity can do for us:
Incorporating more creative activities not only helps with substance use recovery but also with other aspects of life, including work, focus, and overall expression. Remember, we do not all need to be artists to be creative. Sometimes all it takes is you, a pen and a blank page.
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Jennifer is a counsellor at ALAViDA. She has a Master’s Degree in Counselling with a specialization in couples and family counselling. She has worked in the addiction field in both Canada and the United States with a focus on opiate and alcohol treatment.