Creative Outlets in Recovery

Why you may need a creative outlet in recovery

When people think about “creativity”, they often think “artistic skills”. But the truth is, you don’t have to be an artist to be creative. According to the dictionary, creativity simply means using imagination or original ideas. But why would you need a creative outlet in recovery? 

Boredom leads to relapse

Early recovery can seem dull. Countless clients have commented that life feels mundane in the first few months of sobriety.  And boredom can often lead to relapse. It takes time for the brain and body to reset. Also, you may feel restless without a creative outlet for your energy. 

What does creativity have to do with recovery?

Research has shown that complementary treatments like music and art therapy have many benefits. Some of these include decreasing denial, improving communication, and reducing shame. The numbing effects of drugs and alcohol worsen the likelihood of not being able to identify one’s feelings. Additionally, the numbing effects of drugs and alcohol worsen the likelihood of not being able to identify one’s feelings. Music and art therapy can help you reconnect to your feelings. 

Healing through creative outlets

  1. Creativity reduces shame. Creating things like collages can help you express feelings more easily than with talking alone. But you don’t have to be an artist to create something beautiful. Stick figures work, as well as using color to express emotion.
  2. Creativity improves communication. Being able to identify your feelings improves your ability to communicate. In a group setting, we use a game called “feeling charades.”  Feeling charades is a fun activity to build an emotive language that has been numbed by drugs and alcohol.
  3. It helps regulate emotions. Have you ever listened to a song that evoked sadness, nostalgia, or happiness? Then you know that music can be powerfully emotional. Make a playlist of songs you love and try to identify why you love them, what you feel when you hear them. 
  4. Creativity promotes playfulness. Maybe you’ve forgotten what it was like to be carefree and childlike.  Playfulness can help bring balance to your recovery. Or try dancing to your favorite music or spend time coloring. 

Whatever creative outlet you decide, make it part of your new routine in recovery.  Theodore Roosevelt wisely said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” So make the way you choose to express yourself yours, and yours alone. Embrace your inner child.

To learn more about how you can incorporate innovative ideas into your recovery, contact Centered Recovery Programs today at 800.566.2966. 


Aletraris, L., Paino, M., Edmond, M. B., Roman, P. M., & Bride, B. E. (2014). The use of art and music therapy in substance abuse treatment programs. PubMed Central (PMC).

Sack, D. (2017, October 24). 7 ways creativity supports addiction recovery. Psychology Today. 

Scharff, C. (2013, February 5). Neuroplasticity and addiction recovery. Psychology Today.