For Relief From Addiction, Tap Into Your Creative Side

Hello everyone,

Here is an article by a guest blogger.

I hope you enjoy.

It’ll make you feel better in so many ways, and that’s why therapists are adding a bit of creativity to their addiction recovery programs: to help patients achieve a greater sense of well-being that goes beyond abstinence. Whether it’s a strum of the strings or a brush to the canvas, the arts heal your damaged psyche and enrich your life physically, mentally and spiritually. Here’s how.

Health

This is the basis for good health. Difficult situations in life, such as being laid off, getting dumped or struggling with an addiction, can lead to stress, which has physical effects such as high blood pressure. That, in turn, causes even more stress. Creativity ends this vicious circle, as it brings peace of mind and helps you become energetically engaged with your body, according to A Lust for Life, a website devoted to well-being.

Tranquility

When you play an instrument, you focus your ears and eyes on what your hands are doing to produce a specific sound. This is a form of mindfulness, or being in the moment, in which nothing outside of you and your music matters, and that includes those worries and anxieties that you’ve been dragging around all day that are compounded by the pressures of readapting to a sober life. You can gain the same benefit from the visual arts.

Release

Artistic expression allows you to let go of the troubles that have been weighing on your mind. Painting is especially therapeutic for some people in addiction recovery. The Treehouse points out, “Whether it’s watercolor, acrylic, or oils, painting is a wonderful way for those suffering with addiction to cope. Not only is painting a quiet, soothing activity, it allows an artist to bring out whatever emotions they’re dealing with onto the paper or canvas and leave it there. Because drugs and alcohol can dull a person’s emotions, painting can bring you back to yourself, little by little.”

Self-Esteem

Start with plucking a string while you tap your foot to the beat. Now, add another string to the mix. Then, place your fingers on the fingerboard, and add new notes to the composition. The next session, you’ll build even more complexity, and as your skills grow, you’ll learn to play songs in their entirety. Do you see how that works? Little by little, you become better and better. That’s how you accomplish things, and accomplishment is how you build your self-esteem.

Structure

Imagine yourself in front of the canvas for the first time, making your first tentative brush strokes. Seeking the same release of negative energy, you come back to the same place at the same time the next day to add to your budding work of art, but this time, with a steadier hand. You’re gaining skill, but also creating a routine, one that’s invigorating to your mind and spirit. This adds structure to your life, which you need to overcome the negative habits you developed in your previous life.

Positivity

“Express yourself in some way you enjoy on a regular basis, just once a day, and benefit from a more positive state of mind,” says a doctor writing in Psychology Today, citing research in which over 600 people were surveyed on their artistic endeavors and the positive and negative emotional responses they felt. The study also revealed that creativity increased happiness in their relationships as well as positivity in the workplace.

Playfulness

There was a time when you were full of hope, before the weight of the world came crashing down on your shoulders. That child is still there inside you, waiting to reconnect. Art offers a way to reach them. Children are masters at creativity, naturally diving into lumps of clay and pots of fingerpaint to bring their imaginations to reality, and here you are doing the same thing, adding a dash of playfulness to your life. “Nothing is more important than creative play through imagination. Never stop playing, and never stop imagining!” says writer Carmela Dutra.

Painting, sculpting, music – any of these creative arts can be added to your recovery efforts, whether in-patient or outpatient, 12-step or holistic. Talk your therapist for some suggestions, or begin your personal vision quest with a trip to the music or art supply store. Either way, it starts with you.

Image via Pixabay.

I hope you enjoyed this article.

You can post any questions or thoughts in the comments section below.

Thanks everyone.

Ian Morrison, Marketing Manager, Institute of Counselling.

https://www.instituteofcounselling.org.uk/ 

Alcohol, Drugs and Suffering Part 1.

Institute of counselling

Hello Everyone,

I would like to introduce you to the first of two parts of Terry Callahan’s article ALCOHOL, DRUGS AND SUFFERING. published in the Institute of Counselling’s journal ‘The Living Document’. The article is from the Autumn 2010 edition.

ALCOHOL, DRUGS AND SUFFERING

The following article introduces readers to some popular concepts in Narrative Therapy.

Introduction

As a counsellor new to the field of alcohol and other drugs, I have been struck by the appearance of pain and suffering in the stories of almost all those who consult me. Often the appearance of pain and suffering coincided with that of alcohol and/or other drugs in the life of the person. In fact, in many instances the person’s story of their relationship with alcohol/drugs is almost inextricable from their story of pain and suffering.

This paper is a brief report on a project in which I attempted to witness to the stories of suffering and alcohol use by Mary (not her real name), who has been in conversation with me for nearly eight months.

I found myself constantly running into brick walls as I tried to think my way through this work. I am now familiar with at least one of those brick walls, and it is what I call the Theory Wall.

I quickly discovered that Alcohol and Other Drugs counselling is a minefield of competing theories, especially when it comes to the relationship between drug use and pain.

This paper is a brief report on a project in which I attempted to witness to the stories of suffering and alcohol use by Mary (not her real name), who has been in conversation with me for nearly eight months.

I found myself constantly running into brick walls as I tried to think my way through this work. I am now familiar with at least one of those brick walls, and it is what I call the Theory Wall.

I quickly discovered that Alcohol and Other Drugs counselling is a minefield of competing theories, especially when it comes to the relationship between drug use and pain.

I started hearing phrases like ‘self-medication’ in reference to persons who used drugs to manage a psychiatric condition. I also started to notice in newspaper stories and other articles, constant references to drug ‘addicts’ or ‘alcoholics’ who abused these substances to ‘avoid pain’, and that this pain was often tied to early experiences of abuse and so on. The implication seemed to be that getting in touch with this pain and experiencing it fully or cathartically would be healing and help overcome the person’s need for alcohol/drugs. In other words, the addict/ alcoholic was really ‘running away’ from things.

It is unremarkable that these theories should have influenced me. Eventually you hear what you expect to hear. The temptation of Theory for me is also tied up with wanting to have control of a conversation, wanting to know in advance where the conversation is likely to go.

I did not want to stay stuck in front of or behind the Theory Wall. But the temptation is strong because it is theoretical and ‘scientific’ discourse that is most legitimated and legitimating in our culture.

That was the problem. I had not realised how deeply ingrained this scientific attitude is in me.

But coming to name it and tell something of the story of it frees me to properly situate this work as fitting within a different framework of understanding – a narrative approach.

Story or narrative holds complexity, celebrates it, nurtures it in strange twists and turns, metaphors and images, that radiate in every possible direction. Story is a strong/ fragile ever-changing plotting of abundant life. Indeed, narrative is constitutive of identity and action. The stories we make up make us up.

The Interplay of Suffering/ Pain and Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking in Liminal Space

I was faced with an initial dilemma in these therapeutic conversations. Should we externalise Pain or Alcohol? In the end, we externalised both, foregrounded one and then the other.

I understand externalising from a number of different viewpoints:

  •    It locates the problem outside the person.

  •    Externalising is also congruent with a social-constructionist view of the world. That is, all aspects of the person are situated historically, politically, socially and culturally. Externalising opens the space for the person to rethink their relationship to the problem and its supporting ideas and practices.

  • Externalising also situates the Problem in such a way that others can reflect on their respective relationships to the problem, rather than seeing ‘the person-as-the-problem’.

As Mary and I entered into these conversations, it soon became clear that Mary held complex and often very nuanced positions with respect to the effects of alcohol or suffering in her life.

Part two of Terry Callahan’s article ALCOHOL, DRUGS AND SUFFERING will be posted in the next few days.

Please Like and Share this article.

If you have any questions or comments about the first part of this article or on the fast growing area of drugs and alcohol counselling, in general, then post them in the comments section below. I can also respond to any questions you might have.

Thanks everyone.

Best Wishes

Ian.

www.instituteofcounselling.org.uk

Drugs and alcohol counselling course

Online Graduate Centre

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