Some people struggling with addiction may be reluctant to receive treatment and start recovery because they fear it will rob them of their creativity. However, this is an unfounded fear; the reality is these individuals are likely to be creative despite their substance abuse and not because of it. 

Once a person is in recovery, sobriety can actually help increase their creativity; in turn, creativity can help maintain sobriety. Creative people suffering from addiction may have started using substances for various reasons. Still, many may begin to find that relying on alcohol to be creative can block creativity. While using substances may initially seem like a quick way to relax and free up more creative headspace, it can actually begin hindering the process. This is why sobriety does not have to mean the end of your career; it is often a fresh beginning. 

Why Creativity Can Increase in Recovery

Those who are creative often have a natural ability to think outside of the box and generate new ideas, seeing connections and patterns that others may miss. Being in recovery can often help people tap back into this natural ability for various reasons. These include:

  • Improving mental clarity – Once people become more settled in recovery, their cognitive functioning can improve now that it is not heavily clouded by drugs or alcohol.
  • Having more free timeThose addicted to substances may spend a lot of their free time thinking about, obtaining, using, and getting over the negative side-effects of drug or alcohol abuse. Once sober, they can use this time to work on their creativity.
  • Trying out new experiencesWhen someone is dealing with addiction, their lives can become predictable, and there is often little room for exploring. Recovery offers many people the opportunity to try new things and explore different activities that can ultimately spark creativity. 
  • Turning ideas into actionOften, people in recovery feel more motivated. When individuals come up with ideas while under the influence, they may lack the motivation or coherence to enact them tactfully. While sober, they may have an easier time seeing their ideas turn into something of value to others.
  • Increasing mindfulnessA key component in recovery is becoming more mindful. Practices such as meditation and yoga can have a positive impact on a person’s creativity levels.

How to Increase Creativity in Recovery

Being sober can help give you the boost of energy and clarity you need to come up with new ideas and turn them into a reality. It can provide you with more productive creative time. While substance abuse can lead to a numbing of emotions, sobriety can help individuals get more in touch with these powerful feelings that can inspire authentic personal and creative growth. With all this new energy and focus, how can you increase your creativity? Here are some suggestions:

  • Keep a daily journal – This can allow an individual to chart their growth and success. They can also record any creative ideas that come up. It can be easy to forget ideas if we fail to write them down right away. Having a pen and paper wherever you go or even using the notes app on your phone can help. Also, consider keeping a dream journal as well. Many people have great ideas during sleep, where the subconscious reveals itself. These journals can also offer you space to free write, which can help declutter and untangle any thoughts or emotions getting in the way.
  • Work on building character traits associated with creativity – Recovery is often a time of new self-discovery and improving various characteristics. Focusing on openness, passion, concentration, humility, and positive thinking can lead to more creativity. Negative thinking can often get in the way of creativity
  • Set aside time for creative work – Instead of waiting for inspiration to come and catching it in random moments, regularly setting aside time to actively be creative can help ideas come more frequently. This can include brainstorming, reading, writing, or practicing your craft.
  • Don’t compare yourself to another artist – While it is often said that comparison is the thief of joy, it can also be the thief of creativity. If we compare ourselves to others, we may not feel good enough even to try. We may fear failure before we even start. It is important to focus on your own creativity first. 
  • Go for a walk – Sometimes, going into nature and switching up or environments can help us if we are facing a creative block. Spending some uninterrupted time to ponder in nature can also recharge your creativity if you’re feeling mentally exhausted. This can also offer a space free of technology and constant stimulation that can often get in the way. 

Fear of lost creativity should not prevent anyone from seeking out treatment and beginning recovery from addiction. If anything, recovery should give them hope and inspiration. It can be a time to follow their dreams with a newfound clarity and motivation. While there is often a myth that substance abuse sparks creativity, creative people are imaginative despite substances, not because of them. Along with improved mental clarity and an increase in motivation and mindfulness, there are many ways one can continue to be creative in recovery. Recovery can be a time of healing and an opportunity to explore new healthy experiences and activities that inspire ideas. At Alta Centers, a premier substance abuse treatment in Hollywood, we provide individuals in treatment the opportunity to unblock and focus while staying close to the city lights and inspiration. For more information on how we can help you or a loved one struggling with mental health or substance abuse, call (888) 202-2583.

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