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Addiction, also known as substance use disorder (SUD), is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic, relapsing brain disorder. According to the American Psychiatric Association, substance use disorder is a “complex condition in which there is uncontrolled use of substance despite harmful consequence.” Addiction is not developed instantaneously, nor does one’s recovery occur immediately. Everyone is different and will require a customized recovery plan that is developed to incorporate the best possible treatment methods that are specifically geared to address each person’s nuanced needs.

Art Therapy Basics

The American Art Therapy Association defines art therapy as “an integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship.” British artist, Adrian Hill, coined the term ‘art therapy’ in 1942 after discovering the healthful benefits of drawing and painting while recovering from tuberculosis. Art therapy is currently recognized as an effective psychotherapeutic approach that is regularly used by mental health clinicians to treat a variety of mental health ailments, including substance use disorder, spanning across all ages. Art therapy sessions can be conducted in an individual or group setting. Art therapy can be used on its own or in conjunction with other therapeutic treatment modalities. This mental health intervention is facilitated by art therapists who are trained mental health providers that are educated in human development, clinical practice, psychological theories, and fine art. 

Art Therapy Benefits

Two pioneers of art therapy, Margaret Naumburg and Edith Kramer used this therapeutic modality to help clients access their inner thoughts, feelings, and experiences through creative expression. Art therapy can be a valuable addition to a comprehensive addiction treatment plan. There are many benefits of art therapy, some of which include the following, provided by the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association:

  • Improves self-esteem and increases resilience.
  • Studies of adults who experienced trauma found that art therapy led to decreased levels of depression and significantly reduced trauma symptoms.
  • Promotes self-reliance, personal independence, and self-sufficiency.
  • Enables individuals to verbally and nonverbally communicate emotions that may otherwise be abandoned. 
  • The process encourages the development of healthy coping strategies.
  • Decreases denial
  • Can be a cathartic release. 
  • Minimizes shame and illuminates positive perspectives on one’s life.

Art therapy can serve as a language for those who need another way to identify, express, process, and work though challenges, difficult to navigate thoughts, and heavily charged feelings. Findings from a 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, indicate that less than an hour of creative activity can reduce stress and have a positive effect on one’s mental health, regardless of one’s artistic experience or talent. Art therapy is a therapeutic technique that is rooted in the notion that creativity and creative expression can foster healing and promote mental well-being. 

For Information and Support 

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-258-6792. You are also welcomed to contact anytime us via email at admissions@hhtxc.com.