Art Therapy As a Treatment for Drug Addiction

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So much of medicine seems to be concerned with treating the symptoms first, and then handling the causes almost as an afterthought. Drug addiction is no different, but there are some novel approaches currently being investigated, such as art therapy as a treatment for drug addiction.

Overview
Art therapy is a way of using art to tap into an addict’s mind and thought processes to uncover the underlying emotional issues that led the person to begin using a drug or alcohol in the first place. The patient is asked to make a collage, sculpture, painting, or drawing, which is then analyzed by the therapist for hidden obsessions or fixations. These are then explored further with the patient to help resolve them.

Home-based Therapy
Much of the therapeutic value of art therapy comes from the therapist’s ability to interpret the patient’s art and response to it. Nevertheless, using art as a way of examining one’s emotions or as creative meditation is a very worthwhile activity, particularly for recovery addicts who may need the extra help in channeling negative urges into a constructive project.

While art therapy as a treatment protocol is best done in the presence of a qualified individual, if you have a trustworthy and non-judgmental friend, you may be able to explain your art to her. The subsequent exchange may well help you uncover some of the same underlying issues that formal therapy does.

Clinical Effectiveness
Because it is a relatively new addition to the field of addiction therapy and recovery, art therapy is not yet well supported or disproved by rigorous scientific studies. Anecdotal evidence suggests that it is an effective supplement to traditional addiction therapies, but most of the research on the subject has been published in the society’s own journal, the Art Therapy Journal.

Finding Help
The use of art therapy as a treatment for drug addiction is self-regulated by a professional association called the Art Therapy Credentials Board. They maintain regional lists of qualified art therapists and can help you put together a list of potential therapists specializing in your particular problem.

It’s important to work with therapists that understand your problem and are a good match for your personality. Once you have made your list, call and ask if you can interview them over the phone. Describe your situation and ask them for their credentials. This will help you find the perfect person to help you overcome your addiction.

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