In Art Therapy groups in rehab, patients discover a healthy and constructive way to handle negative emotions and stress without needing to use drugs or alcohol.
The substance abuse treatment program is much more than just a way for patients to get clean and sober. Though some may not quite grasp it, overcoming addiction is not just about dealing with the symptoms of drug or alcohol dependency. True recovery is realized when the underlying causes of a person’s addictive behaviors are uncovered and addressed, and when they are able to discover the tools and skills needed to remain clean and sober after graduation.
One of the root causes of addiction for many of the patients in a recovery center is the desire to numb themselves of negative emotions or the stresses of daily life. They have either forgotten how to express those emotions or handle those stresses in a healthy, constructive and positive manner or they never really learned how. As a result, they resorted to using drugs or alcohol to “escape”, and they found themselves locked in a much darker prison with much stronger chains.
Learning how to deal with negative emotions is vital to the success of rehab patients. It becomes even more important as those emotions begin to re-emerge after months or years of being suppressed by substance abuse. If they don’t learn effective methods of dealing with those feelings, chances are high that they will fall back into their old coping methods, and addiction will once more take control over their lives.
The recovery strategy is designed to help patients find those skills that will help them to remain substance-free when they graduate and return to their daily lives. They offer a wide variety of extracurricular groups and courses that build on the foundation provided by their core program selection. These supplementary groups focus on finding real-life practical applications of the concepts and principles discovered in the core program of the patient’s choosing.
One of the more popular supplementary programs is an Art Therapy group. This group concentrates on using visual art to express feelings and emotions and to manage stress in a healthy and constructive manner. The Art Therapy group is an effective program option for anybody regardless of how accomplished he or she may be as an artist. “They have a tendency to say ‘Oh, I’m not good at drawing’,” explains an Art Group facilitator. “I stress that this is not an Art Class. The purpose is to identify feelings, talk about coping skills, so it’s another way for them to express themselves.”
Aside from healthy self-expression of negative emotion, the Art Therapy group can also be a great way for rehab patients to learn how to repair relationships that may have been damaged through their substance abuse. As they work closely with each other, they begin to trust others again, and to trust themselves to work towards a common goal in a team atmosphere. “We’ve done a lot of teamwork building,” she says. “You’ll see the big mural on the wall, where they have to come together to complete it.” The ability to form and maintain healthy and functioning relationships also helps tremendously in forming the strong support network that will serve the patient in remaining clean and sober after graduation from a recovery center.
The Art program can be a way for some patients to rediscover an old passion that they once held. As addiction begins to take control over a person’s life, things that were once important to them are forgotten or left behind. Art, music, sports, writing, even friends and family all take a back seat to the desire to get high or drunk. Art Therapy can offer some patients a way to reconnect with something that was once incredibly important to their lives. “I kind of put art aside to do the things that I shouldn’t have been doing,” admits Vanessa M., a very talented artist that found her life being affected by her substance abuse. She was very excited to hear that the facility had an Art Therapy program option, and even bought a new drawing tablet before she came to the recovery center. In a way, it was symbolic of her desire to start over with a fresh, clean slate. “It’s actually really relieving. Anytime I get upset or have a craving, I tend to pick up a pencil and draw. I think it’s cool to finally find me, without a substance.”
The Art Therapy group, along with the other supplemental programs such as Music Exploration, Yoga and Meditation, and Beginners Martial Arts among others, give patients an opportunity to discover what will help them most in recovery from addiction. They are able to find the things that they can turn to in order to handle negative emotions and stress so that they don’t have to resort to drugs or alcohol. Patients are able to find the path to overcoming an addiction that will be most effective for them. They discover a sense of confidence in themselves and their sobriety, and a renewed hope for a healthier and brighter future.