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Our addictions and mental health issues often cause us to have an unhealthy relationship with our emotions. We become so afraid of feeling our emotions that we don’t allow ourselves to feel them fully. We’ve developed unhealthy patterns of suppressing, denying and avoiding our thoughts and feelings. We numb ourselves with our drugs of choice, we become dependent upon them, and we use them to self-medicate. Our addictions are a form of escapism, and what we are trying so desperately to escape are usually our difficult emotions. We haven’t found healthy ways of confronting, processing and expressing how we feel. We’ve become trapped in cycles of refusing to face our pain which causes layers of additional issues to accumulate, ultimately causing us even more pain.

Creative expression helps us to connect with our emotions in productive and helpful ways. When we use creativity, we process our thoughts and emotions in much healthier ways, allowing us to learn from them and use all the lessons we’ve learned to move forward. Music, art and dance are three examples of creative expression that allow us to take our experiences, including the most painful ones, and find beauty in them. We transform from the inside out as we use creativity as an outlet for our pain. We make art that we can use to cheer us up, to lift our spirits, to add light to our lives and to the world, and to create something tangible and powerful out of our feelings.

Our life experiences, and all the lessons within them, often create the foundation for our art. We write our personal stories. We paint what we know. We create songs that reflect our stories. This process is highly cathartic. It allows us to process things that can be too difficult to talk about. It provides us with a softer, gentler approach to facing the things we’ve had a hard time confronting. Our art becomes therapy for us. Every lyric or paint stroke can feel therapeutic. We’re releasing as we’re creating. We’re letting ourselves feel, sometimes for the first time.

The creative process can be painful sometimes. Emotions are rising to the surface, many of which we’ve been burying deep within us for years of our lives. Repressed memories can start to return. Unhealed wounds reemerge. Things we’ve forgotten about, and refused to think about, resurface. Part of healing is letting ourselves feel. Creative expression allows us to do just that, giving us a beautiful medium for our transformation.

Riverside Recovery is a drug and alcohol treatment center offering a full continuum of care for people suffering from addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. We understand the emotional challenges of addiction recovery and are here to support you. Call us today for more information: (800) 871-5440.