National Recovery Month: Using The Arts to Overcome Addiction
Some of the most provocative art has been created by the most brilliantly deranged minds we’ve known; think Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Georgia O’Keefe and Edvard Munch. These artists are critically important because like monumental writers, they give us a glimpse into the essence of the human condition through their work, surviving generations and remaining relevant. Addiction is one of the many facets of the human experience shrouded in obscurity. Art, of any type, stemming from anguish helps to elucidate those things we’d rather keep secreted to the entire world. Art is the great equalizer of the human experience, because we can make known the inscrutable.
But how will this babbling help you overcoming using? My babbling won’t, but dabbling in the arts will!
Using artistic medians of self expression facilitates self discovery and is an excellent follow-up to therapy. Knowing yourself and understanding why you’re suffering from addiction are two of the most important things to your long term recovery, and most times we need help in honing in on the things we can only feel. Emotion left untamed consumes, and often forces us to forget our purpose, because we are enraptured in the essence of emotion. Art helps us to channel those emotions constructively to convey those feelings outward, giving them release- liberating yourself of intense emotions will help prevent relapse, and serves as a powerful reliever.
Sometimes you just have to do something- it may not be enough to talk about it. So pick up a brush, a pen, ballet shoes- anything. You don’t have to be taught how to be an artist to become one. You don’t even have to become an artist, you can simply enjoy the experience for what it is: unadulterated self expression. Art is for everyone, and not just the university students or frequent museum enthusiasts. (Of course, exposing yourself to school or rooms full of venerable art can’t hurt!
Maybe drawing and painting aren’t your thing- maybe you’re a writer, or a poet, or simply a chronicler of the things around you. Write a plan, try your hand at writing a screenplay for a short movie, you can find all of the formatting information online. What do you have to say, what’s your unique perspective that you wish people understood about your experiences?
Maybe you’re drawn to photography; you don’t need a fancy camera to start out- if you have a camera phone that’s enough to start a collection of your unique perspective of addiction, or the recovery process. Whatever medium you choose, art is important to document the human continuum. Art is created around what we deem to be important- if you’re frustrated about being misunderstood and can’t get through with words, let your work speak for itself. And don’t become discouraged if what you create does not resonate with the untapped chasm inside of you.
Art is a journey everyone needs to go on- and sometimes “art” is pragmatic. Don’t limit yourself to the “fine arts.” Everything can be art. Embrace it.
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About the Author
Alexandrea Holder is a South Florida native working toward double Master’s degrees in Psychology and English. She finds the psychological aspects of addiction and mental illness fascinating, as both are prevalent in her family’s history. When not researching and spreading addiction awareness, Alexandrea enjoys sparring, artistic pursuits, and admiring puppies online.