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How Creativity Helps With Recovery

Have you ever heard the myth that substances stimulate creativity? Well, scientists have finally debunked that one once and for all. Addiction dulls your emotional, physical, and spiritual spark. It messes with our ability to experience joy and makes it harder for us to produce artistically. 

That doesn’t mean that once you’ve struggled with addiction your creativity is done for. In fact, the opposite is true: recovery is a brilliant time to explore or reconnect with your inner creative spark. Through recovery you’re learning and unlearning a plethora of different skills and abilities; you’re crafting a whole new life and mindset for yourself. It can be an enormously creative time, and creative practices can help with recovery in turn.

How Can Creativity Help With My Recovery?

Being creative has many benefits throughout recovery. This can be a challenging time, and having an outlet for your emotions and frustrations is an excellent way to cope and process your feelings in a healthy way.

Helping You to Process Trauma and Loss

Many people who struggle with addiction have gone through a traumatic experience or experienced some kind of loss in their lives. Substance abuse can then begin as a way to cope with those difficult feelings. Working through that trauma and loss is often an important part of early recovery for many of us.

Creative practices are an excellent way to support this process. While talking therapies are useful, sometimes it’s not possible to express such difficult matters in words. Making art can help you to express long-suppressed emotions and get them out into the world. 

Emotion Regulation

Engaging in substance abuse or gambling is also a maladaptive method of emotion control. Recovery is also about learning healthier ways of regulating your emotions. This is something you can work on through therapy such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), but it’s also something that creative endeavors can support.

Creating art, such as painting, drawing, dancing, or writing doesn’t just help you get your emotions out there – it also helps you to regulate them. By being creative you are sitting with and engaging with your emotions, rather than trying to shut them down or run away from them. This can in turn help you to make peace with them and gain some control over your feelings. It doesn’t have to be advanced or complicated – even the act of listening to music can reduce stress and help you to process your emotions.

Finding Joy

Addiction blunts our ability to experience intense joy outside of substances or problematic behaviors. During recovery, you build on your ability to experience that joy again. 

Creative practices are a joyful act as old as the human species. Creating simply to create is a deeply human trait and can release all kinds of happy chemicals in the brain. Finding an artistic practice that brings you joy, however slight, can be a helpful step on the road towards finding joy again after addiction.

How Can I Explore My Creativity in Recovery?

There are many ways to explore your creativity in recovery. For example, you can:

  • Try journaling. Journaling is a great way to explore creativity if you like to write but you aren’t sure what form to put it into. You can slip between genres, such as prose, poetry, or simply lists of what you’ve done. Try adding a few cartoon drawings or sketches of the world around you to stretch yourself. 
  • Take a class. If you’re ready to get creative with other people, look around for art classes in your local community. There are usually plenty that are targeted towards non-professionals, and looking might get you excited. You never know, pottery might be your next great passion!
  • Get into cooking. We all need to eat to survive, so why don’t you try turning feeding yourself into a creative practice? Pick out a recipe book at your local library and get started!


You don’t have to be the next Mozart to reap the benefits of creative practice – and in recovery, a little creativity can go a long way. Whether you write, draw, sing, dance, or anything in between, engaging with your creativity can bring some joy back into your life and help you to process your emotions.

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  • Empowered Recovery Center
    3651 Canton Road,
    Marietta, GA 30066

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