Expressive Arts Therapy: 15 Creative Activities and Techniques

Recovery can spark feelings of gratitude for those who helped you get where you are. Making your own thank-you cards by painting, drawing or embellishing a stack of blank cards will make a lasting impact on you and recipient. Join 550,000+ helping professionals art therapy for addiction who get free, science-based tools sent directly to their inbox. Expressive arts therapy is an intervention that can help heal the body and mind, with ancient roots in ritual, music, song, art, poetry, dance, and drama across all cultures.

art therapy projects for addiction

Recovery, Mindfulness, and Distraction

  • Others around you may have had similar experiences, but no one will have yours.
  • They can safely feel and process the full range of emotions surrounding their addiction experience.
  • Within an art therapy session, the individual or group focuses on completing a piece of artwork based on a project suggested by the art therapist.
  • This form of therapy has the potential to positively impact the creator’s well-being by alleviating and improving mental, emotional and physical challenges.
  • To encourage exploration of the mind states, the facilitator can assign a more specific role to each state of mind.
  • By focusing on the act of creating without judgment, people should experience reduced stress and learn more about their habits and thought patterns.

Patients make a visual representation of their lives by drawing a timeline that begins on the year of their birth and ends with the current year. They are then guided to think about the most significant events of their lives, both good and bad. This can include major job changes, meeting an important friend, graduation from college, or the death of a family member.

  • Creating thank you cards is a great way to show appreciation and support positive feelings and an optimistic mind.
  • Art therapists Karin von Daler and Lori Schwanbeck (2014) were instrumental in this expansion when they developed Creative Mindfulness, an approach to therapy integrating various expressive arts therapies with DBT.
  • Zentangles are drawn patterns inside tiles that help provide peaceful feelings that help the viewer refocus their mind and become present at the moment.

Art Therapy for Addiction Recovery

art therapy projects for addiction

If you’ve always dreamt of being an actor or actress, you can write your own script and create characters that represent your struggles. By spending a few minutes to focus on an art project, people will gain a sense of accomplishment and perhaps some insight into their thoughts and feelings. Each of these art projects is a great part of a journey toward recovery and can be completed in a residential treatment center. If you or a loved one are suffering with substance abuse or addiction and want further help, Contact Steps Recovery Centers. If you’re creating a self-care box, have the participants add items that represent to them the idea of support and self-help. Give them a moment to reflect on what activities, people, or things help them feel good.

art therapy projects for addiction

My Own Experience Integrating Drama Therapy and DBT

Combined with talk therapy, art therapy can help people process emotions while improving self-confidence and self-awareness. As with other forms of therapy, a new client can expect to spend some time getting to know their therapist at the first session. This session also allows the therapist to get to know their client and assess their therapeutic needs. Containment occurs in a specific branch of art therapy called mandala art therapy, which encourages a client to confine their drawings to a circle. Scholars believe that art therapy may be effective because the act of creating art strengthens neurological connections in the brain.

  • Participants don’t need to have artistic talent — they need to open themselves up to the experience and engage to benefit from this practice.
  • Art therapy can offer a release of emotions and provide a tangible object you can discuss with a therapist and others.
  • While these coloring books can be a great way to pass the time and may even help lower stress, they can’t replace real art therapy with a Registered Art Therapist.
  • She then asked us to create small visual images on paper for each of the important things we kept in there.
  • This approach focuses on storytelling through art, allowing people to create visual narratives of their lives, experiences with substance abuse, and recovery journeys.

In addition to helping clients explore recognized and subconscious feelings and issues, art therapy is also used to help build clients’ self-esteem and mental health. The creative process can be used to assist clients in feeling empowered and capable. In addition, art therapy may play a role in alleviating depression, reducing stress, and lowering feelings of anxiety. This exercise can help clients identify their attraction to their particular drug of abuse and express their fears of letting go of drugs and alcohol.

Art Therapy Activity Benefits & How To Do It At Home – Refinery29

Art Therapy Activity Benefits & How To Do It At Home.

Posted: Wed, 02 Jan 2019 08:00:00 GMT [source]

Art Therapy: Create To Recover

About the Clients Referenced in this Post

Controlled Drinking vs Abstinence Addiction Recovery

Though programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and other well-known programs meant to aid in the recovery from alcohol use disorders and alcohol misuse require or encourage full abstinence, these are not the only solutions known to help people quit or control drinking. In Britain and other European and Commonwealth countries, controlled-drinking therapy is widely available (Rosenberg et al., 1992). The following six questions explore the value, prevalence, and clinical impact of controlled drinking vs. abstinence outcomes in alcoholism treatment; they are intended to argue the case for controlled drinking as a reasonable and realistic goal. Regarding the app “Appstinence” that was used by participants in our study, future research should examine whether this app is actually able to assist AUD patients with ending a return to alcohol use or even with preventing a return to alcohol use in risk situations. These hypotheses need to be tested in an appropriate study design by implementing a quantitative approach and using an adequate sample size.

  1. Yet, there is a lack of research on what happens to abstinence motivation after the return to substance use.
  2. The following six questions explore the value, prevalence, and clinical impact of controlled drinking vs. abstinence outcomes in alcoholism treatment; they are intended to argue the case for controlled drinking as a reasonable and realistic goal.
  3. While the pandemic seems to have triggered substantial increases in alcohol consumption, and in alcohol abuse, this is true on a macro level.
  4. When your goal is only one drink instead of no drinks at all, the temptation to stray can become less powerful and you can more often enjoy positive reinforcement from your successes.
  5. Yet, this prior work did not address the question of whether those who achieve low risk drinking during treatment can maintain functional improvements for multiple years following treatment, which is important given concerns that low risk drinking may be a less stable outcome (Ilgen et al., 2008).

2 Quality of life and recovery from AUD

Here we provide a brief review of existing models of nonabstinence psychosocial treatment, with the goal of summarizing the state of the literature and identifying notable gaps and directions for future research. Previous reviews have described nonabstinence pharmacological approaches (e.g., Connery, 2015; Palpacuer et al., 2018), which are outside the scope of the current review. We first describe treatment models with an explicit harm reduction or nonabstinence focus.

Low Risk Drinking Outcomes and Longer Term Functioning

Therefore, for those clients who find complete abstinence to be overwhelming, we will come up with specific rules around their drinking. “It is essentially a practical approach; success is not measured by the achievement of an “ideal” drinking level or situation (i.e., abstention or low-risk levels), but by whether the introduction of the prevention measure reduces the chance that adverse consequences will occur” (NCBI). When your drinking is under control, you may have the internal bandwidth to accept the professional psychological support that can help you develop healthier ways of coping. You could also get help to better manage your emotions, address past trauma, and understand how anxiety, depression, or other emotional difficulties have powered your alcohol abuse.

What is Harm Reduction?

Some clients expressed a need for other or complementary support from professionals, whereas others highlighted the importance of leaving the 12-step community to be able to work on other parts of their lives. The descriptions on how the tools from treatment were initially used to deal with SUD and were later used to deal with other problems in the lives of IPs can be put in relation to the differentiation between abstinence and sobriety suggested by Helm (2019). While abstinence refers to behaviour, sobriety goes deeper and concerns the roots of the problem (addiction) and thereby refers to mental and emotional aspects. Differentiating these concepts opens up for recovery without necessarily having strong ties with the recovery community and having a life that is not (only) focused on recovery but on life itself.

Study design

While harm reduction can be effective and successful in helping a person be more cognizant of their drinking behaviors and therefore decreasing them, it is not for everyone. While, of course, no one is perfect, and we expect “mistakes” or “hiccups” along the way, there are some individuals who try harm reduction and are able to recognize they cannot exercise this type of self-control. In those cases, harm reduction can be a helpful tool as a last resort, to help the individual come to the conclusion themselves that abstinence is the right avenue for them, rather than having it enforced upon them at the start of treatment. Learning to drink in moderation can be the goal, or it can be a way station on the way to abstinence. Once you are able to allow yourself some alcohol in controlled circumstances, you may ultimately choose to give up drinking entirely.

Participants were also encouraged to use a daily abstinence and craving tracker in which they were asked to self-report whether they had been abstinent the day before and how intense their craving was on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from very weak to very strong. The current review highlights a notable gap in research empirically evaluating the effectiveness of nonabstinence approaches for DUD treatment. While multiple harm reduction-focused treatments for AUD have strong empirical support, there is very little research testing models of nonabstinence treatment for drug use. Despite compatibility with harm reduction in established SUD treatment models such as MI and RP, there is a dearth of evidence testing these as standalone treatments for helping patients achieve nonabstinence goals; this is especially true regarding DUD (vs. AUD). In sum, the current body of literature reflects multiple well-studied nonabstinence approaches for treating AUD and exceedingly little research testing nonabstinence treatments for drug use problems, representing a notable gap in the literature. A number of studies have examined psychosocial risk reduction interventions for individuals with high-risk drug use, especially people who inject drugs.

The findings suggest that abstinence motivation seems to generally increase after the return to alcohol use for participants in an app-based guided intervention for treatment of AUD. Future interventions should focus on motivation to deliver better support before and after a return to alcohol use and thereby potentially improve adherence and treatment outcomes. Furthermore, future studies need to reach out to individuals who drop out of the intervention after the return to alcohol use and to those with an early return to alcohol use. Alcohol use disorder (AUD) as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5 (DSM-5) ranges from mild to severe forms based on the bruises: symptoms causes diagnosis treatment remedies prevention amount of fulfilled criteria [1], is prevalent, often chronic and linked to negative physical and mental health [1,2,3]. Evidence-based treatments including pharmacotherapy, withdrawal management, cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and prevention of the return to substance use exist [4,5,6,7] and recommendation on treatment indication are compiled in national treatment guidelines [8]. Despite the existence of various treatment forms there is room for improvement in the current treatment landscape reflected by high lifetime rates of the return to substance use for substance use disorders [9, 10], low treatment retention, and general treatment barriers [11,12,13].

This is not surprising as respectful and supporting feedback and interactions are also part of Motivational Interviewing which has already been shown to be effective in the treatment of substance use disorder [25]. Altogether it might be that a return to alcohol use could only have a motivational impact if the return to alcohol use was adequately addressed and if affected individuals were supported in an appreciative manner. Yet, this has to be examined systematically, for example by comparing intervention and control group regarding their motivation after the return to alcohol use. Lack of consensus around target outcomes also presents a challenge to evaluating the effectiveness of nonabstinence treatment. Experts generally recommend that SUD treatment studies report substance use as well as related consequences, and select primary outcomes based on the study sample and goals (Donovan et al., 2012; Kiluk et al., 2019).

Classification precision (defined by relative entropy) was used to evaluate how well the final latent profile solution classified individuals into latent classes and values of entropy greater than .80 were considered good classification precision (Nylund et al., 2007). Given the abstinence focus of many SUD treatment centers, studies may need to recruit using community outreach, which can yield fewer participants compared to recruiting from treatment (Jaffee et al., 2009). However, this approach is consistent with the goal of increasing treatment utilization by reaching those who may not otherwise present to treatment. Alternatively, researchers who conduct trials in community-based treatment centers will need to obtain buy-in to test nonabstinence approaches, which may necessitate waiving facility policies regarding drug use during treatment – a significant hurdle. It is essential to understand what individuals with SUD are rejecting when they say they do not need treatment. In this model, treatment success is defined as achieving and sustaining total abstinence from alcohol and drugs, and readiness for treatment is conflated with commitment to abstinence (e.g., Harrell, Trenz, Scherer, Martins, & Latimer, 2013).

We combined the qualitative information with quantitative data in order to get to a more complete picture of the investigated research questions [46, 47, 62]. In this mixed-methods study, we examined abstinence motivation and app use behavior teen drug abuse: signs risks and treatment after the return to alcohol use and aimed to identify the perceived supporting aspects regarding abstinence motivation. Overall, the results show an increase in abstinence motivation after the return to alcohol use and a stable app use.

The controversial past of controlled drinking is slowly giving way to a hopeful future in which individuals are less likely to be forced into an abstinence-only treatment scenario. The enhanced accessibility of effective controlled-drinking interventions should significantly expand the treatment options of individuals within the full spectrum of alcohol-related problems. Some people aren’t ready to quit alcohol completely, and are more likely to succeed if they cut back instead.

Model fit was examined using the Lo Mendell Rubin Likelihood Ratio test (LRT), the Bootstrapped Likelihood Ratio Test (BLRT), Bayesian Information Criterion (BIC) and sample-size–adjusted BIC (aBIC). A significant LRT and BLRT indicates a significantly better fit for a k profile model (e.g., 3 profiles) versus a k-1 profile model (e.g., 2 profiles), and a non-significant LRT and BLRT indicates that adding an additional profile does not significantly improve model fit (Nylund, Asparouhov, & Muthen, 2007). In addition, lower BIC and aBIC indicates a better fitting model (Nylund et al., 2007) and the smallest class of any class-solution should not contain less than 5% of the sample (Nagin, 2005).

The position of ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS (AA) and the dominant view among therapists who treat alcoholism in the United States is that the goal of treatment for those who have been dependent on alcohol is total, complete, and permanent abstinence from alcohol (and, often, other intoxicating substances). By extension, for all those treated for alcohol abuse, including those with no dependence symptoms, moderation of drinking (termed controlled drinking or CD) as a goal of treatment is rejected (Peele, 1992). Instead, providers claim, holding out such a goal to an alcoholic is detrimental, fostering a continuation of denial and delaying the alcoholic’s need to accept the reality that he or she can never drink in moderation. Such reductions are very often the goal of treatment and as such, show some possible promise for the treatment of individuals with alcohol abuse problems. Indeed, the participants in the study are what I would consider very heavy drinkers and are likely more representative of common drinking problem behavior than the really severe, chronic, poly-substance dependent patients that often present to residential treatment. Thus, while it is vital to empirically test nonabstinence treatments, implementation research examining strategies to obtain buy-in from agency leadership may be just as impactful.

Demographics, baseline dependence severity (as measured by the Alcohol Dependence Scale (Skinner & Horn, 1984)), and treatment condition by latent classes are presented in Table 3. Individuals in the low risk drinking classes (Classes 5 and 6) had lower dependence severity than those in the mixed heavy drinking classes (Classes 2 and 4). Individuals who received MET were more likely to be in the heavy and low risk drinking classes (Classes 3 and 5) and those who received CBT art and creativity in addiction recovery were less likely to be in the abstinent and heavy drinking class (Class 3). Parameters were estimated using a weighted maximum likelihood function, and all standard errors were computed using a sandwich estimator (i.e., MLR in Mplus; B. O. Muthén & Satorra, 1995). The robust maximum likelihood estimator provides the estimated variance-covariance matrix for the available outcome data and, therefore, all available drinking data during treatment were included in the models.

1We also examined low risk drinking definitions using weekly limits of 7 and 14 drinks for women and men, respectively. Results were not substantively changed when weekly limits were analyzed, thus we report the results using daily limits. In the results, we mention that there were a few IPs that were younger, with a background of diffuse and complex problems characterized by a multi-problem situation. Research on young adults, including people in their thirties (Magaraggia and Benasso, 2019), stresses that young adults leaving care tend to have complex problems and struggle with problems such as poor health, poor school performance and crime (Courtney and Dworsky, 2006; Berlin et al., 2011; Vinnerljung and Sallnäs, 2008). Thus, this is interesting to analyse further although the younger IPs in this article, with experience of 12-step treatment, are too few to allow for a separate analysis. However, they will be included in a further analysis on young adults based on the same premises as in present article but with experience from other treatments than the 12-step treatment.

How to Stop Alcohol Cravings Handling the Urges to Drink NIAAA

In the journey towards recovery, the right nutrient-rich foods can play a surprising role – they can Additionally, there’s a stark difference between wanting a glass of wine after a long day and obsessing about it all day long. While the first can be seen as a normal desire, the latter represents a craving which entails a mental preoccupation with alcohol that typically leads to problematic drinking.


Learning how to overcome an addiction is important for anyone experiencing a substance use disorder (SUD), alcohol use disorder (AUD), or behavioral addiction. While challenging, recognizing that there is a problem and learning more about the process of quitting are important first steps in recovery. Brian Obinna Obodeze is a professional health-niche content developer for with six years of experience as a research writer.

curb alcohol cravings

Fermented Foods: A Gut-Healthy Choice

AUD is a condition that occurs when a person has a physical need or desire to consume alcohol that is difficult to control. Distraction can be a useful tool to help a person manage alcohol cravings in the moment. Finding alternative activities to refocus the brain can allow the craving to pass. The following approaches can also be used, with or without medication.

curb alcohol cravings

How to Curb Alcohol Cravings: Advice From the Ria Health Team

  • About six months ago, Grayson began taking the popular weight-loss drug Ozempic.
  • Another important thing to remember about cravings is that they don’t last forever.
  • The patients mentioned sedation and paresthesia as the side effects.
  • Go on a walk—somewhere where you normally would not drink alcohol—and don’t feel the need to pressure or “test” yourself.
  • For example, there are different medications available to treat opioid, nicotine, and alcohol addiction.
  • The words “urge” and “craving” refer to a broad range of thoughts, physical sensations, or emotions that tempt you to drink, even though you have at least some desire not to.

Some studies suggest that simply getting help — whether through medication, counseling, or both — is what matters for successful management of this addiction. The balance of these systems in the brain of a person who has been drinking heavily for a long time gets thrown off, Holt says. “Acamprosate is designed to level out those abnormalities and provide some stability.” Acamprosate (Campral) eases withdrawal symptoms — such as insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, and feeling blue — that can last for months after you stop drinking. This drug may be a good choice when someone has gotten an ultimatum from their family, an employer, or the legal system about their alcohol misuse. “You can commit to taking Antabuse every day while the other person watches,” he says.

curb alcohol cravings


The Third FDA-Approved Medication

Vitamins to take for alcohol withdrawal

  • Ikeda sensei, the President of Japanese Society of Neuropsychopharmacology, to write an article for Neuropsychopharmacology Reports.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy, or talk therapy, used in the treatment of substance use disorders, including AUD.
  • Your health care provider or mental health provider will ask additional questions based on your responses, symptoms and needs.