Drug addiction is often referred to as The Family Disease. When a person becomes addicted, it affects not only their health and ability to perform everyday tasks, but everyone around them. Coworkers, friends, family. Addiction is not just the act of over-using dangerous substances. It develops when the chemical makeup of the brain becomes altered. But if your system has already been bombarded by chemicals, why add more to “fix” it?

Taking a holistic approach to rehab is one of the safest ways to seek recovery. As a result, creative outlets like art therapy are becoming an integral part of drug rehabilitation programs. However, the concept has been around since 1942 when Adrian Hill coined the phrase. In 1945, he published his first book, Art Versus Illness. An artist and psychologist, Hill was invited to teach art lessons to injured soldiers while they recovered, and then later to civilian patients. In so doing, he discovered that patients working on art projects were distracted from their current problems, thus reducing their stress so they could develop new outlooks on life and speed recovery.

It was Hill’s belief that when a patient was in physical distress, or at a mental low, the “animal ego” flairs into prominence, overriding rational thought and sensible emotional states.  However artistic actions render this “animal ego” dormant, which then allows the creative powers of the “spiritual essence” to come through in works of art. Observing patients, and their reactions to making art, allowed him to see that war took more than a physical toll on the body, it affected the mind as well, which led to him taking up the fight for psychological healing for patients, and hoping art therapy would become a part of the National Health Service.

But is art therapy a legitimate method of treating drug addiction?

If you’re the creative type, then the short answer is yes. All artists—writers, musicians, painters, sculptors, seamstresses, etc—need to create. If they don’t, they’ll combust . . . figuratively speaking, of course. It makes perfect sense for these types to connect to that artistic part of themselves for control of their mind and body.

Artists get lost in the process of creating and are often surprised by the truths revealed in the final product.  This is the magic of art therapy for drug addiction, it gets the mind off of the craving and directed toward more productive and enriching activities.

There are countless ways to battle addiction and fight off relapse if you’re on the path of recovery.  For assistance and resources, feel free to contact Treatment Now’s help line.

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