Art, the unexpected help with addiction ⋆ Marstyle

An addiction is always terrible, whether it’s an eating, drinking or gaming addiction. One is more intense than the other, but they always have a major impact on the addict’s daily life. Withdrawal is therefore a first step towards recovery. With some addictions this will have physical consequences, with others mainly mental. Any help to make this process run more smoothly is therefore welcome. Many people do not know that art can help with recovery. Yet this is certainly the case. How do you use art forms to ease the recovery from an addiction? Read on quick.

Get professional help or get out of the situation yourself?

The first step to recovery from an addiction may not be rehab, but acknowledgment. When someone recognizes that he or she has a problem, the road to recovery can be started. It differs per addiction what that looks like. But when it comes to drugs, a drug detox is the most important thing in the first place. It is advisable to do this under professional supervision because drug withdrawal can cause quite a few side effects. Both physically and mentally.

When the children were young, we had a family member who was addicted to games. That was intense because as an ‘in-law’ in my own house I was actually supposed not to say anything about it, but of course I was furious. I became extra angry because I was not allowed to discuss the problem while I believe in openness. The person ruined his own life and in addition there were great concerns about him in the family. In the end he was literally dragged out of the situation (heavily polluted house, itself heavily polluted and the unhealthy lifestyle was clearly visible in his overweight puffy appearance: his appearance had changed almost beyond recognition) and we took him in.
I wasn’t allowed to know exactly what the situation was (could have been drug addiction too, I didn’t know), but I opened my house, ran laundry, exposed my young children to this (could he be a danger or not?) and a part of my privacy. Unfortunately, the person in question refused professional help, but this intervention did help in the end and now – thirty years later – as far as I know, things are going well and he has a family of his own.

Fill the void with… something positive!

There are many problems that can underlie addictive behavior. We will not go through all of these here, because they are very personal. What does come back generically in recovery is the creation of an emptiness. After all, the addiction took a long time. Filling this space with other activities that give a sense of accomplishment is a smart move, it also reduces the chance of relapse.

It is advisable to choose a form of meaning that is actually positive. In our case this was: daytime activities with very young children (think they were 1 and 2 years old). Now of course not everyone has toddlers at home, but what can work therapeutically is creativity. Express yourself in a form of art. From drawing, painting, music to literature. It differs per person, but they are all forms of art that can give a sense of fulfillment but also processing. It can regulate and express emotions.

Tip: After our divorce, creative therapy was also a very good tool for one of my daughters, which she talks about in the book Scheid! a guide for children whose parents are separating.

Getting rid of any addiction is a tough process. Especially when it comes to intense things like drugs or alcohol. Getting a helping hand with this, for example through an art form such as music, painting or writing, can soften the process and also speed it up. It fills the void, but it is also a way to accommodate and express traumas and other suppressed feelings. This importance is increasingly recognized in regular programs and therapists gratefully make use of this. A professional therapist is then added to the treatment plan. If you yourself are struggling with addiction or know someone who suffers from it, do not hesitate to bring this preference to the attention of your practitioner. Creative therapy is beneficial on several fronts and also a lot of fun to do. That piece of positivity can give someone the right move in a dark period!

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Do you have experience with creative therapy?


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