Can Creative Art Therapies Assist Those in Addiction Recovery?


Creative art therapies such as drawing, writing, music, poetry, dance, drama, and more have become a very effective form of treatment in both addiction and mental illness recovery treatment centers due to their wide range of opportunities for clients to connect with their thoughts, histories, intentions, and with others in a multitude of ways. Unlike individual or group therapy, creative art therapy allows individuals to express themselves in ways they may be unable to verbally; this type of therapy opens doors for further discovery, understanding, and exploration. If you’re currently in a reputable treatment program and you haven’t already, creative art therapy could be an excellent component to add to your treatment regime.

Anne Fisher, PhD, is a psychologist and registered dance therapist who stated in a featured article on the American Psychological Association’s (APA) website,

In verbal therapy, the medium is words–therapists listen to people talk in order to make assessments and formulate interventions. In dance therapy, movement is the medium for assessment and intervention.”

A 2018 study published in the journal The Arts in Psychotherapy sought to explore just how effective creative art therapies are for individuals in addiction recovery who have difficulty expressing their emotions and feelings. The researchers systematically reviewed 3,204 articles that involved creative art therapy and found that it assisted many clients in four significant ways:

  • Enhanced contemplation – helped move individuals towards thinking about recovery
  • Treatment readiness – assisted in preparing people for entering treatment mentally
  • Motivation – encouraged individuals to push through their recovery by expressing themselves
  • Reduction of cravings – served as an outlet for clients to learn some useful tools towards certain emotions that could serve as triggers


Art therapy is for anyone – you don’t have to consider yourself “talented” or an “artist”, and the therapy itself is not meant to judge or criticize your artistic abilities but rather to facilitate your learning and transformation in recovery. If you haven’t already, speak with a professional from a reputable treatment center to learn more about creative art therapy and how it can become incorporated into your treatment regime. It’s never too late to seek help.

Simple Recovery is a world-renowned, California state-licensed substance abuse recovery center. We offer dual diagnosis treatment, so if you are experiencing both substance abuse and symptoms of a mental disorder, call us today at 888-743-0490 so that we can work with you to restore your happiness, health, and well-being. You do not have to continue living this way; there are many people here ready to help you.