How Can Art Help in Addiction Recovery? Gateway Rehab

The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals. Art therapy may be effective because of the relationship among substance use disorder and mood and emotion regulation. Containment occurs in a specific branch of art therapy called mandala art therapy, which encourages a client to confine their drawings to a circle.

If approved, the drug could help more people with schizophrenia relieve their worst symptoms, since many people stop taking the existing medications because of their side effects. Just as a painting or a piece of music can say something in ways that almost defy description, art therapy provides individuals facing physical, emotional, and cognitive challenges with new pathways toward understanding and self-expression. The number of studies on art therapy treatment and SUDs remain relatively small, however, so scholars need more evidence to determine the therapy’s effectiveness. Substance use disorders (SUDs), also called drug and alcohol addiction, is the continued use of drugs or alcohol despite the substances’ harmful effects to the person. Another pioneer in the field of art therapy was Margaret Naumberg, the founder of the Walden School in New York.

Mental Health Resources

The strategies range from including probation officers in treatment efforts to advocating for programs that reward positive behavior. Oftentimes there is trauma, compulsion, and pain involved in substance use disorders. Such types of addictions, called co-occurring disorders, require patients to heal art therapy for addiction the underlying trauma and provide awareness. If a patient suffers from alcoholism and depression, the therapist can be present to notice any patterns and inform the participant of observations. The benefits of art therapy include restoring someone’s identity by strengthening one’s self-esteem.

MentalHelp has partnered with several thought leaders in the mental health and wellness space, so we can help you make informed decisions on your wellness journey. MentalHelp may receive marketing compensation from these companies should you choose to use their services. An added benefit is that feelings of stress and anxiety are lessened as someone is partaking in an enjoyable activity. Moreover, if someone struggles with a poor attention span, they can connect with each moment as they create artwork.

Levels of Care

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the field will expand by 8% in the decade that began in 2019. Some choose to categorize art therapists with other types of therapists, while others require licensing standards for art therapists. As with other forms of therapy, a new client can expect to spend some time getting to know their therapist at the first session. This session also allows the therapist to get to know their client and assess their therapeutic needs. Scholars believe that art therapy may be effective because the act of creating art strengthens neurological connections in the brain.

But there is a definite connection between a person’s difficulty in regulating emotion and mood and experiencing SUDs. Another aspect that may strengthen the effectiveness of art therapy is a phenomenon called containment. Containment allows clients to use visual representations to contain difficult thoughts and experiences that might arise during therapy. Naumberg believed that art therapy could promote healing by helping people uncover repressed thoughts and emotions while providing a framework to discuss them. Beginning with her 1947 book, Studies of the “Free” Expression of Behavior Problem Children as a Means of Diagnosis and Therapy, she wrote several books on the topic. Data were collected using face-to-face interviews with the administrator and/or clinical director of each treatment program.

Aging Populations and the Rise of Addiction

Interviews were conducted by a team of trained interviewers with at least a bachelor’s level of education. The final randomly selected sample resulted in 307 treatment programs, a response rate of 68% among eligible organizations. The goal is to give the patient an outlet to express themselves in a new way—a simpler way. Art therapy can also improve cognitive function1 and enhance brain connectivity. Art therapy can have a beneficial, transformative, even revelatory effect on patients seeking help for behavioral health concerns.

how is art therapy used in substance abuse

However, with increasing use of CAM in a diverse range of medical settings, and recent federal legislation likely to reduce barriers in accessing CAM (“ PPACA, ” 2010), the inclusion of CAM in addiction treatment may grow in importance. Our study addressed three specific components of art and music therapy in addiction treatment. We assessed the prevalence of their use, the relationship between treatment centers’ patient characteristics and the use of art and music therapy, and the associations between other treatment modalities and art and music therapy. Data for this study were collected between June 2009 and January 2012 from a national sample of SUD treatment organizations. Centers for the study were randomly sampled from the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator, a directory supported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Treatment programs had at least 25% of their patients admitted with alcohol as a primary substance abuse problem.

It has many benefits, including providing an outlet for self-expression and helping with personal discovery. Such activity allows them to feel safe and comfortable, especially when they find it difficult to discuss these issues in regular talking therapy sessions. It’s beneficial for those with underlying mental health conditions who may struggle with verbalizing their emotions. Art therapy is a treatment for addiction where those recovering use creative art-making to express feelings and thoughts that are hard to put into words. This therapy allows them to explore and address issues related to their addiction.