Creativity and Addiction: How an Outlet for Self-expression Can Aid in Recovery

Due to the media and our exposure to famous creative individuals who suffer from substance use disorders, it is widely believed that there is a correlation between creativity and addiction.

These myths are not only untrue, they are harmful and dangerous.

In fact, creativity is a powerful tool that can be used to aid in addiction recovery.

Contrary to popular thought, creativity is far more likely to help a person overcome their addiction than to cause it.

Myths Surrounding Creativity and Addiction

With so many myths surrounding creativity and addiction, here are two of the most widespread myths…

Myth #1: Creativity is a Product of Addiction

This ideology is widespread and completely false. The belief that creativity is born out of substance abuse not only romanticizes substance use disorders, it discourages those who rely on their creativity from pursuing recovery.

The truth is that addiction hinders creativity.

Take artist Jackson Pollock, for example. This legendary painter, who also suffered from alcoholism, created his most legendary works during the decade he was in addiction therapy. When he began drinking heavily again, the quality of his work declined.

In fact, many creative figures who once feared sobriety would rob them of their creativity have actually reported greater clarity and an increase in creativity in recovery.

Myth #2: Creative People are Genetically Susceptible to Addiction

While the determining factors of addiction are still relatively unknown, it is safe to say that there is no clear link between creativity and a predisposition to substance use disorders.

While there is a high rate of addiction in creative fields, this is more likely related to societal pressure and the stressful nature of many creative industries.

Certain personality traits, a history of trauma, and other mental illnesses are factors that can cause creativity and/or result in addiction.

However, this does not suggest that creativity and addiction are interlinked, but that they can be born from the same traits.

The Link Between Creativity and Addiction

The Importance of Creativity in Addiction Recovery

While healing from addiction often requires traditional therapy, mental health treatment, and the use of pharmaceuticals, it is critical that those looking to overcome a substance use disorder integrate holistic healing methods into their addiction treatment.

Ritual, connection, and balanced living are crucial elements to a successful recovery.

Prolonged drug use does more than wear the body down physically. It also impacts the mind and the spirit, inhibiting creativity and joy. By exploring creative interests in recovery, areas of the brain that were once stunted by substance abuse will become active again.

Through this process, a person in recovery can begin to explore their emotions on a deeper level, giving them more insight into their addiction and creating space for healing.

In addition to creating pathways for unresolved emotions, creativity also has the potential to help those in recovery do the following:

  • Heal from past traumas
  • Improve work performance
  • Optimize focus
  • Encourage playfulness
  • Work through shame
  • Reduce stress

Creative Outlets in Addiction Recovery

The beautiful thing about creativity is that it has few restrictions. Creative activities are often inexpensive and available in many forms, meaning anyone can benefit from this healing method.

In general, most creative outlets involve expansive thinking and the use of the senses.

Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Journaling
  • Cooking
  • Drawing
  • Collage
  • Dancing
  • Painting
  • Storytelling
  • Ceramics
  • Music

Music Therapy For Addiction Recovery

At Alo House, one method of creative-based treatment that we offer our clients is music therapy.

The act of listening to music causes a release of dopamine, resulting in a natural wave of pleasure.

This is the same rush caused by drugs (but at an exaggerated level), making music therapy an effective tool when working to refamiliarize the body with natural levels of dopamine.

However, this isn’t the only powerful benefit music therapy provides.

Music Therapy For Addiction Recovery

The Benefits of Music Therapy Include:

  • Reduced physical pain and stress
  • Decreased anxiety and depression
  • Alleviated boredom and restlessness
  • Encouraged self-expression
  • Reduced feelings of loneliness
  • Boosted immune system
  • Increased focus
  • Heightened mood and positivity
  • Improved sleep

While enjoying music can offer the above benefits and more, music therapy extends beyond the boundaries of listening. The act of creating music has the power to combine the benefits of music therapy with creativity, which results in a medium for healthy self-expression and emotional exploration.

Alo House Records

At Alo House, we believe in the healing power of music. We have seen the impact listening to music has had on our clients who are suffering from addiction and know that music can lead to a deep sense of individuality, connection, and purpose.

Because of this, we have developed Alo House Records, a unique music recording program located at a high-end recording facility.

Twice a month, our clients are provided with the opportunity to work with an award-winning music team as they write songs and record them through Alo House Records. This experience allows our clients not only develop a useful creative skill set, they also create meaningful connections, learn how to express themselves, and grow in confidence and self-esteem.

It is our mission to dispel the belief that creativity contributes to addiction while using creative tools, such a music therapy, to aid in our client’s recovery.

We are proud to offer a holistic healing method that provides our clients with the tools they need to remain sober and live vibrant, fulfilling lives after they leave our care.

alo house

We believe trust, meaningful connections, and kindness are the essentials to beginning a journey in recovery. We are dedicated to providing an honest, authentic, and genuine treatment environment that gives our clients a unique opportunity for healing.

Alo House is LegitScript Certified and a Joint Commission Accredited Addiction Treatment Center.