Accepting your alcohol or drug addiction is a fundamental part of the recovery process.
It is part of the first step in the 12-step method of Alcoholics Anonymous and integral to many other treatment approaches.
Healing involves realizing that your addiction is neither your fault nor your choice. Addiction is out of your control and not something to be ashamed of, and by letting go of guilt and shame, you can develop self-worth, self-care, and self-love.
Shame is a complex emotion and can be hard to identify, especially early in treatment. However, if it is not adequately addressed, it can disrupt the entire treatment process. It can reappear as anger, confusion, denial, and silence as you try to work through issues surrounding your addiction.
Creative art therapy helps identify and reduce feelings of shame in several ways. These include:
Developing a Language for Your Inner Self
Art can be a language for your thoughts and feelings. You can often express yourself through art when you are not able to with words. You may not be able to communicate a feeling of shame verbally, but you might convey it through your artwork.
Expressing Feelings Safely
When you first start addiction treatment, feelings that you have avoided or denied for many years may come to the surface. These are often feelings of extreme shame, anguish, or rage.
Substance users typically deal with aggressive and violent emotions through compulsive behaviors like drug abuse. Creative art-making provides an alternative channel of release. It can transform raw and unprocessed feelings into pieces of artwork or creative processes which you can discuss and work through with a therapist.
Exploring Freedom and Choice
Addiction takes away your ability to choose and imposes actions and behaviors on you which are out of your control.
Art-making gives you a choice. You have control over how to use your materials and what the outcome will be. It provides a sense of mastery and creative freedom that is opposite to the experience of addiction.
Exploring freedom and control through art can emphasize the compulsive nature of addiction. It can help you understand that addiction is not something you have chosen or should be ashamed of. This understanding is fundamental to developing a sense of self-worth.