As our nation continues to fight the battle of addiction, many modalities to serve those afflicted with this disease are available. The standard of talk therapy, education and process- ing groups are a few of the classics that we see in most treatment centers. These are beneficial in addressing the underlying issues of someone’s addiction. Along with the many different modalities, another expression of therapy is in the utilization of art.


At Scottsdale Recovery Center, we express art through the eyes of recovery. As we unravel our client’s stories, some very traumatic, painful events that have not surfaced for many years, finally is released. It is found that some clients reveal their darkest secrets for the first time. Along with these secrets is the lost art of creativity. This is where recovery art can add to a client’s program allowing them to express their inner healing.


As I approach each art class with the motive to connect to a person’s inner child, this is where aspects of deep healing can take place. And what is so significant about this type of healing is, we are able to access the client’s vulnerability which ultimately helps heal the shame they have been carrying around for years. And it is this shame that addicts will continue to use over until it is processed and healed.


“The mind can only focus on one thing at a time and focusing on art projects offers a reprieve from struggles with addiction.”


Along with shame is the inability to express emotions. It can be very uncomfortable for an addict to express in words what they are feeling. This natural ability gets lost in the years of using drugs and alcohol. By utilizing Recovery Art at our center, we encourage the clients to process their feelings through painting, drawing, music, acting and jewelry making. Each of these modalities connects the client to what they are feeling which can be uncomfortable, yet doing this in a safe place is where healing begins. We have found that adding this type of expression helps the clients talk about what they are feeling through describing their art piece.


One of the great benefits I get to witness during these class times are the clients who are very intimidated by expressing art. They assume they need to be great artist to paint or draw something. What is magical about these moments is seeing our clients get absorbed in their art work and focus only on that, rather than the myriad of problems they deal with every day. The mind can only focus on one thing at a time and focusing on their art project gives them a reprieve from their struggles with addiction. The sharing of their art work allows for insecurities to be healed and to express what they want in life or what they are feeling. It is a moment in time that feels as though it stands still when watching those who are wounded come out of their shell and heal.