You can also replicate Zentangle® designs or make up your own “tangle doodles” by creating patterns with repetitive lines and shapes. By all means, be sure you are having a good time and getting into the “doodle zone” [a state of creative flow where time is non-existent]. When you put your art out into the world, your shoulders may feel less heavy. You don’t have to carry your emotions with you forever, and releasing your negative energy through art can help you feel free from it all. Art therapy isn’t designed to make you the next Picasso, but it can help you express yourself and learn more about who you are. In fact, one of the most significant advantages of participating in the creation of art is the ability to illustrate your emotions.

Many people recovering from SUD are hesitant to work with others out of fear, but the end result of a group art project may be worth it. Others who see this art will wonder what the inspiration was, and you can either communicate your thoughts to them or leave it up for people to interpret. One of the most trying aspects of recovery is the stressors and triggers we experience that may have us wanting to return to substance use.


Art provides an outlet when words fail. With a trained art therapist, every step of the therapy process involves art. This exercise can help clients identify their attraction to their particular drug of abuse and express their fears of letting go of drugs and alcohol.

They can witness each other’s progress and grow together. Individual therapy is also an option. Music encourages positive emotions, increased self-esteem, increased focus, and increased relaxation. Art therapy, in general, has been viewed as a holistic and alternative 50 Substance Abuse Group Therapy Activities for Recovery approach to addiction recovery, but music has been making a bigger mainstream splash lately. This splash is not just in the addiction recovery field, it is also showing promising benefits in the treatment of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke, and depression.

How to Facilitate this Art Therapy Activity for Adults

Patients make a visual representation of their lives by drawing a timeline that begins on the year of their birth and ends with the current year. They are then guided to think about the most significant events of their lives, both good and bad. This can include major job changes, meeting an important friend, graduation from college, or the death of a family member. As patients fill in where the milestones are on the timeline, they also draw symbols that represent the event. When I color during therapy, it creates a safe space for me to express painful feelings from my past. Coloring engages a different part of my brain that allows me to process my trauma in a different way.

  • The creative process allows patients to access repressed feelings and begin to understand the underlying sources of their addictions.
  • Creating art is especially effective for individuals dealing with mental disorders as well as drug and alcohol addictions.
  • People do not need to have artistic ability or special talent to participate in art therapy, and people of all ages including children, teens, and adults can benefit from it.