Art and Music Therapy for Addiction Recovery

Updated: May 2, 2019



Recovery is stressful. It's also an enduring process. Conventional programs are the most effective way to equip someone to achieve and maintain sobriety, but they can take quite a toll. Art and music are increasingly utilized as supplemental therapies in traditional, professional programs. So, what are the benefits of art and music therapy?

This post includes:

  • The Benefits of Supplemental Therapy

  • Art Therapy

  • Music Therapy

  • Relevant Materials on Supplemental Therapies

The Benefits of Supplemental Therapy

What are Supplemental Therapies?

Supplemental therapies, sometimes referred to as alternative therapies, are additional therapies used alongside a main treatment plan to aid one's well-being, current condition, and future condition. Examples can include:

  • Acupuncture

  • Yoga

  • Aromatherapy

[Aromatherapy Benefits for Mental Health]

  • Meditation

[Personalize Your Meditation Space]

  • Exercise

  • Diet and nutrition

[Stress Management Grocery List]

  • Hypnosis

  • Vitamin and mineral supplements

[Supplements for Depression]

  • Biofeedback

  • Brain-mapping

  • Equine or other animal therapies

[Emotional Support Animals]

Searching for positivity during recovery can be a challenge, especially if the overriding goal is sobriety. It is easy to be so fixated on the end goal that you lose your ability to enjoy the moment. But supplemental therapies can potentially provide a source of reassurance and hopefulness when treatment is proving grueling.

These supplements can be valuable tools in mitigating some of the issues that might make recovery seem difficult, and can give creative paths for channeling tough emotions. It can seem hard to find enjoyment during recovery, but certain supplemental therapies have the potential to stimulate new passions, or help rediscover dormant interests.

For help strengthening your emotional intelligence, learn to expand your emotional vocabulary or track your moods and feelings!

Integrating supplemental therapies into conventional recovery practice can go a long way to individualizing treatment. There is no single template for what an individual is going through, so there is no catch-all therapy practice.

A person's needs and goals will vary, but supplemental therapies can provide useful coping mechanisms that can be utilized during recovery and beyond. So long as such therapies are seen as a complement to conventional treatment, they have the potential to offer extra support along the journey to recovery. It's important to remember that conventional therapy isn't being replaced, but rather supported through holistic endeavors.

Art Therapy

What is Art Therapy?

"A form of psychotherapy involving the encouragement of free self-expression through painting, drawing, or modelling, used as a remedial or diagnostic activity."

- Oxford Dictionaries

More and more, art therapy is used to treat various conditions, including addiction as a companion to conventional programs. Its meditative effects can be profound, especially in helping an artist come to terms with their past mistakes and current emotions.

How Art Therapy Can Work for You

Facing such things can be distressing, but for some going through addiction, communicating one's inner pain can be especially elusive. Unfortunately, shame and guilt are common reactions, and it is not easy to express oneself in more verbal modes. This is especially so if unhealthy habits and denial have developed as coping techniques.

Related: How to Finally Succeed at Breaking Bad Habits

Whether it’s watercolor, acrylic, or oil, painting is a wonderful way for those suffering with addiction to cope. Not only is painting a quiet, soothing activity, but it also allows an artist to bring out whatever emotions they’re dealing with onto the paper or canvas and leave it there.

Because drugs and alcohol can dull a person’s emotions, painting can bring you back to yourself, little by little. After you have picked up a paintbrush you may find that you have developed healthier mechanisms to manage stress, and have a clearer understanding of yourself and your needs.

10 Easy Art Therapy Techniques To Help You De-Stress

Other Ways to Practice Art Therapy:

  • Drawing

  • Sculpting

  • Pottery

  • Mixed media

  • Photography

  • Filmography

  • Sketching

  • Writing

  • Graphic design

  • Textiles

  • Collages

  • Fashion design

  • Glass-blowing

  • Chalk art

  • Poetry

  • Web design

  • Anything else you view as art!


Music Therapy

What is Music Therapy?

"The therapeutic use of music in the treatment of certain (especially mental) conditions."

- Oxford Dictionaries

As a creative therapy, music can also provide someone with the opportunity to project their innermost thoughts into lyrical or instrumental compositions. Learning to play an instrument, too, may also help reflect your emotions. From the frenetic or melodic drum to the calming sounds of a violin, you can nurture a rewarding relationship with an instrument. Like art therapy, music may help you develop long-term strategies to manage stress and encourage introspection.

Music Can be Used Anywhere

Everywhere we go, music is there and can set the tone for us and our environment. It's a great tool to alleviate stress, and it's something that can be taken anywhere. Music therapy can be acutely beneficial if going through recovery from addiction or other mental health issues. Create deeply personal, therapeutic playlists to help relax, comfort, and be there for you from the waiting room to your bedroom.

There is no easy road to recovery, and therapy itself can take an emotional toll. That's why art and music therapy can be beneficial when used to support yourself through treatment. With creative pursuits to bolster you through some of your bleaker moments, recovery can become more manageable.


Music Playlists for Music Therapy:

229 Mental Health Playlists on 8 Tracks, including:

Download the 8 Tracks App

More Relevant Material on Supplemental Therapy

1. The Art Therapy Sourcebook


"Newly updated and revised, this authoritative guide shows you how to use art therapy to guide yourself and others on a special path of personal growth, insight, and transformation. Cathy A. Malchiodi, a leading expert in the field, gives you step-by-step instructions for stimulating creativity and interpreting the resulting art pieces. This encouraging and effective method can help you and others recover from pain and become whole again."

The Art Therapy Sourcebook will help you:

  • Find relief from overwhelming emotions

  • Recover from traumatic losses

  • Reduce stress levels

  • Discover insights about yourself

  • Experience personal growth

Click here to see more

2. Color Therapy: 50 anti-stress coloring pages + 5 art markers


"Relax and unwind in minutes! Color Therapy is a fun and effective way to relieve stress and get in touch with your inner self. It's a simple technique that anyone can do, anytime, anywhere. This compact kit filled with pages of beautiful, calming patterns makes it easy to let go of day-to-day worries and allow your creative energy to flow."

This kit includes: • 100-page pad of drawing paper with 50 images to color • 5 brush-tipped, artist-quality markers.

Click here to see more

3. The Mindfulness Coloring Book: Anti-Stress Art Therapy for Busy People


"A fun and unique pocket-size coloring book designed to channel stress into relaxing, creative accomplishments.Reinforced binding with strong glue allows you to open and lay this book flat to color with intricate detail without breaking the spine. In today’s busy world, finding a moment of peace and calm can be a challenge. Mindful coloring is a simple yet powerful practice that combines the proven, time-honored tradition of thoughtful meditation with the growing popularity of adult coloring books, and shows that any activity, done right, can be an exercise in mindfulness. In The Mindfulness Coloring Book, accomplished illustrator Emma Farrarons presents 70 intricate and beguiling patterns to help you color your way to tranquility. Here are flowers, leaves, butterflies, and birds alongside rolling waves and kaleidoscopic designs. Perfectly sized to fit into a pocket or handbag, and printed on high-quality paper that will ensure hours of bliss, The Mindfulness Coloring Book is ready to help you de-stress wherever you go. So take a few minutes out of your hectic schedule to reset and refresh with mindful coloring—and relive the days when your biggest concern was staying within the lines!"

Click here to see more

4. Integrative Health through Music Therapy: Accompanying the Journey from Illness to Wellness


"Recent music therapy advances and evidence-based practices have earned respect within the medical sciences and garnered popularity amongst users and practitioners. While integrative medicine treats the whole patient with ayurvedic and allopathic medicine, music therapy provides a safe and effective way of managing stress, pain, unpleasant symptoms, response to illness, and treatment side effects, and has been proven to enhance patients’ quality of life and general well-being.

Exploring the ways in which these methods have been practiced throughout history, the author takes readers on a journey from illness to wellness, and shows how this can be guided through music. The book instructs music therapists and other practitioners in the use of specific techniques, providing examples of clinical applications. It includes activities that prepare a music therapist physically, emotionally and musically for this journey with another, and provides case studies to explore the difficulties that might arise."

Click here to see more

5. Music Therapy with Families: Therapeutic Approaches and Theoretical Perspectives


"This comprehensive book describes well-defined models of music therapy for working with families in different clinical areas, ranging from families with special needs children or dying family members through to families in psychiatric or pediatric hospital settings.

International contributors explain the theoretical background and practice of their specific approach, including an overview of research and illustrative case examples. Particular emphasis is placed on connecting theory and clinical practice and on discussing the challenges and relevance of each model. This practical and theoretically anchored book will prove valuable for music therapists, students and researchers in the fast developing field of music therapy with families."

Click here to see more

This post includes affiliate links; for more information, see Disclaimer.

Thank you to our guest writer, Michelle Peterson, who put together this fabulous article on art and music therapies. The examples and resources provided, like the music playlists, were great additions to Rose-Minded.com. If you, or someone you know, would like to contribute relevant/helpful mental health information, resources, experiences, or tips please contact us with your ideas.

Comment your favorite music playlists below that benefit your mental health! Share this post with your friends and family by using the social media icons below.

#substanceabuse #addiction #mentalhealththerapy #guestblogger #therapyresources

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