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A look at the various ways addiction can impact modes of self-expression. Recovery helps us realize how important creativity and expression truly are. 

Our struggles with addiction and mental health issues can cause us to stifle parts of ourselves that were once integral to our lives. We suppress certain qualities or interests out of pain or we sacrifice them to our substance of choice. We abandon activities that were once important to us and perhaps we even start to forget who we are. We become self-hating and ultimately, we reject ourselves and our growth. We forget all the ways in which we used to use creativity and self-expression to feel good about ourselves, to feel free and at peace, and to be happy. As young children, we sang without worrying if we were singing in key. We played the piano without caring if the kid next to us could play better. We danced freely. We played. We loved ourselves and others without inhibition or limitation. Once our addictive patterns and mental health issues settled in, and for many of us this can happen around adolescence, we probably experienced a huge shift. We became more self-conscious, shy, timid, and nervous and maybe began to fear social settings or the world outside of our substance. This ate away at our self-esteem, causing us to lose confidence. We turned to certain substances and behaviors because we wanted a rush, a thrill, a distraction, an escape, or a way out of pain. Perhaps we numbed ourselves, stopped talking, playing, expressing, and creating. But, we need self-expression. It’s vital to our happiness and energy.

Conversely, some of us delved into our creativity even more voraciously because of our addictive patterns. We sought relief and release, and our self-expression worked in tandem with our drug of choice. Maybe we combined the two and sang while we were high or drunk, painted, or wrote under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. We told ourselves that these substances got our creative juices flowing and put us in a receptive mode for inspiration and divine guidance. We felt like we were “in the flow” while we were high or drunk. We feared sobriety because we assumed our talents would go out the window, and we would have nothing left of ourselves to express. This is just simply not the case. When we get sober, we realize what a wealth of endless creativity we have inside.

The need for self-expression is an important part of our lives. When we don’t express ourselves, we repress important parts of who we are and cause ourselves considerable struggle and lasting mental and emotional pain. Our frustration turns to rage. Our isolation turns to depression. Our restlessness turns to panic. Finding creative, healthy, productive ways to express ourselves, such as songwriting, poetry, visual arts, gardening, cooking, and even speaking out loud in support group meetings, can be the remedy to our painful, destructive patterns. Sobriety and recovery are wonderful roads to creative expression. 

Riverside Recovery believes in the importance of holistic healing and education, mindfulness and mind-body-spirit wellness. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information on our treatment programs.