How about a little art prescription therapy?
For years, researchers believed that addictions was a disease, and that at the utmost it could only be treated with medications, and rehabilitation centers with very little hope of recovery. What researchers have know learned, and studies have shown is that addiction can come from childhood trauma, but also from a lack of adequate healthy social connections in ones adult life. It is important to separate the person from the addiction, and realize that every addict has the hope of recovery.
I can honestly say that I have never been addicted to drugs or alcohol, but I have been to dance and fitness. One might say how can addiction to physical exercise be bad? Well amazingly it is. It can reak havoc on your joints, muscles, organs and heart. Too much of a good thing, is just that. The question is when do you draw the line? When does it end? For me I had to realize that me as a person mattered more than looking like girls in fitness magazines, I dance because I love it, and I am good at it. Winning in a dance competition because I have trained a little extra is a bonus. Plus exercise IS something that should be apart of our daily routine. The difference between an addiction to a hobby and an addiction to drugs, alcohol, or prescriptions is that it is never a healthy hobby even in small doses.
In my childhood like many others, I experienced trauma. I didn't want to fall into drinking, drugs or cigarettes, so I turned to health and fitness and creativity to cope with my emotions. Unlike exercise, creativity never hurt my physical body, spirit, mind or emotions, and as long as I stayed on a budget.
For a couple of years I worked in Downtown Winnipeg as a an Art Therapist/ Outreach Worker in two different Drop-In Art Centers located in temporary homeless shelters. At first only one or two people came to the class, then bit by bit more came until the entire room was full of students. A room full of students than transformed into three volunteers, which lead to two casual paid assistant positions with myself. Empowering participants through individual and group artwork sessions to build confidence, gain social skills, personal life ambitions, and heal from trauma could came with 30 mins. to 3 hours here and there. I truly believe that:
"Transformed people, transform people."
To conquer any challenge in life. we all need a mentor and a positive role mode. I try to be that person for my students by making art more approachable and less intimidating.
cognitive behavior patterns that lead to having an addictive personality can be unlearned from cognitive rehabilitation, and art therapy is a proven method of success. This is why I have found in my occupational experience, that so many people who are attempting to recover have failed with scheduled counselling and prescription medications. Art doesn't need to have a structured, rigid format to be art, and the path of recovery isn't a clear 12 step program either.
The goal of an art class for the purpose of therapy or creative expression for an individual should be healing, at their own pace. Un-prescribed, raw, non-methodical, self-lead healing. Sometimes when working on an art piece new light can be shed on areas of darkness as the brain begins to work better as decision making patterns begin to shift and align.
Being an "addict" can usually carry a much more heavier meaning. Usually when someone is an addict there is determinatal affects of the addiction already present in their life. No one can go back in time and change their past, However, art can help them re-frame it into something positive. This opens the door for the addictions to speak less, so the heart of the addict can speak more. Opening the individual up to talk to therapists, and even sometimes family about their experiences so they can move on, and move up in their life.
A previous addict can not be successful in life management if they have not worked on the root cause of their addiction, their "triggers." Triggers can come at any time for any reason, no matter how positive a person is trying to be. Whether it is dance, music, fitness, fixing an old car, or painting mini figurines, everyone needs a hobby to "escape" to or express those triggers in a positive fashion.
If it wasen't for the the mentors I had (dance and art teachers), I wouldn't be the person I am today. I know one thing for sure, arts saved my life. Every one deserves excitement and adventure in their lives as part of Maslow's Hierarchy needs.
Stephanie A.E Strugar
Certified Grumbacher Painting & Drawing Instructor.
She is a retired Certified Face/ Body & Temporary Tattoo Artist.
Caricaturist. She is currently an active
Public Speaker, Consultant, and Arts Educator in the Manitoba and greater Canada area.