Creativity, Treatment, and Recovery

People sometimes forget that there are many treatments, paths, and ways to recover successfully. We often discuss the traditional methods associated with treatment; individual and group therapy, relapse prevention, and traditional counseling focused on a client’s long-term goals during treatment and afterward in recovery. However, there are many other ways to recover from addiction and learn how to deal with cravings, triggers, and lapses. Those ways include creative outlets that anyone can utilize for any given struggle. Individuals often use music or the arts to cope with the stresses of daily life. Some dance, others write, or people utilize fitness and just being active to cope with those stresses. 

These methods can be great tools for individuals to incorporate into their recovery process. Of course, patients should first go through a treatment plan and consult their doctors or other medical professionals, as a creative outlet does not substantiate an alternative to traditional treatments like therapy. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, substance use disorder (SUD), or any other mental illness, finding a healthy and creative outlet for that negative energy may be just the thing missing from your recovery. 

Creativity and Mental Illness

People often use several creative outlets, some just creative ideas, and others creative by nature. Whether you are a painter, sculpture, writer, photographer, or musician, channeling all the negative feelings you may be experiencing during the lower parts of your recovery can be effective in helping you psychologically and become beautiful products of your creativity. Some programs and treatment centers may even integrate creative activities into their curriculum. 

The American Journal of Public Health examines the connection between the arts, healing, and public health. This article examines people’s different creative outlets, including music engagement, visual arts, movement-based creative expression, and expressive writing. Their results indicated that there are “clear indications that artistic engagement has significantly positive effects on health.” Continue reading the article above to learn more about the general connection between creativity, the arts, and health. It can be extremely difficult to pinpoint these benefits from a psychological perspective. 

An article from the Indian Journal of Psychiatry discusses creativity and mental health. This article defines creativity as the “ability to make new combinations” and can “prove to be the key to success or failure in human beings’ quest for knowledge.” At the end of the day, the benefits of creative outlets may not be present in statistical numbers and data. It may be based solely on the way you feel. 

Recovery in Southern California 

Wherever you might be, looking for local events or organizations in your area can be a great way to tap into your creative side. There are many art and cultural scenes throughout Southern California for people to find. It can be important to enter into a community outside of a sober support system, and this might be a great way to find that community. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Joining local Facebook or social media groups that notify you of events in your area
  • Taking part in an open mic opportunity at your local coffee shops or restaurants
  • Going to your local art galleries to gain inspiration from other artists

Specifically, in San Diego, there is a creative arts scene, where people can participate in dance, theater, art, and several other festivals, essential to whatever it is that might feed your soul. During this time of COVID, though, you may find some difficulty finding things to do in your local area. Fortunately, there are virtual groups as well. Begin posting videos to a YouTube channel, or create an Instagram account solely for your art. The beauty of this expression is that the only person your art has to be for is you, and the only thing it has to be for is your recovery. 

Self-Expression Over Science 

Even if there were no scientific evidence regarding the connection between creativity and mental health, there are many reasons to consider getting in touch with your creative side. You don’t have to be an artist, musician, or writer. Creative self-expression is a cathartic process. Putting words or feelings onto paper or communicating your struggles through a paint stroke can help you heal while inspiring others as well. 

At Lakehouse, our curriculum focuses on individualized treatment plans. You will be encouraged to pursue any creative outlets that could help you in your treatment and recovery. It’s important for you to feel empowered in your treatment, and nothing is more empowering than creating something from your heart and soul. Learn how to turn your pain into a beautiful trauma, and there isn’t much you can’t do.

Traditional treatment methods can be essential components of maintaining recovery. However, there are many alternative ways to deal and cope with the daily struggles of being in recovery. Many of these alternative methods include creative outlets and various forms of self-expression. Music, visual art, dance, and even poetry are just a few of the creative outlets people can turn to in recovery. Even if you aren’t an artist or consider yourself creative, trying something new can create new neuropathways throughout the brain that can benefit your healing process. Even those who don’t feel creative may become pleasantly surprised by the art they create from the pain and trauma. The Lakehouse Recovery Center urges our clients to feel empowered in their recovery. You should have the freedom to try new things and experiment with these creative outlets to see which might aid in your recovery. To learn more, reach out to the Lakehouse at (877) 762-3707 today.