Art Therapy Can Enhance Addiction Recovery


Photo Credit: Unsplash

The path towards long-term sobriety is often one of personal discovery, healing and inner reflection. In/outpatient care facilities, group therapy and personal counselling are valuable for individuals recovering from addiction.

In recent years, addiction treatment specialists have increasingly noted the positive role supplemental therapies play in long-term sobriety. Hobbies can help people heal, find purpose and develop healthy coping mechanisms. While the majority of healthy hobbies will have a positive impact on recovery, art and musical therapy in particular have been shown to help facilitate long-term sobriety. According to the National Institutes of Health, music and art-based hobbies can help individuals develop an outlet for communication, increase self-confidence and decrease stress.


The recovery process can be filled with a number of intense feelings such as guilt, shame, sadness and even loss. It can be difficult to effectively communicate all these emotions to another person. Unlike talk-based therapy, art and music therapy encourages self-expression without having to form words to describe feelings. As a result, communicating through music and art can provide a healthy outlet for a person’s emotions when words would otherwise be impossible.

Art-based therapy can also help people who are feeling overwhelmed by the recovery process, work, or family. If art and music therapy is taking place in a class setting, it can be a way for individuals to communicate with others and even develop friendships. Specific art/music therapy classes focus first and foremost on inner reflection and self-expression. While some artistic techniques will be taught, skills development is not the primary focus. This is good news for people who do not consider themselves an artist or musician.


A common trait among individuals who experience addiction is low self-esteem and self-confidence. Generally, those who suffer from addiction have a below-average perception of their value and self-worth. When a person does not believe they have value, they may be more likely to participate in negative behaviours. He/she may believe they do not have the necessary skills to cope with difficult situations or meet societal expectations for success.

Building up self-esteem is a cornerstone of addiction recovery. Art and musical therapy can show individuals that they can master a task and become successful. The Poughkeepsie Journal notes that this sense of accomplishment can lead people to make positive life decisions.

Taking part in these therapies can also help people feel productive and can even replace the void left by addictive behaviours. Finding a purpose has long been considered a precursor for sustained happiness. Art and musical therapy can help individuals discover their purpose in life and develop the self-confidence necessary to see this purpose fulfilled.

Stress Reduction

Chronic stress has been associated with both addiction formation, as well as addiction relapse. Not only can stress be a relapse trigger in and of itself, stress can also make people more susceptible to other addiction triggers and has thus been deemed a “stage setter” for relapse.

Learning to reduce and cope with even acute stress is important for long-term sobriety. That means finding helpful ways to deal with aspects of your life where you’re struggling. For example, if work is causing you distress, you might try changing up your routine and improving your diet to get you through the day, and then, use art and music therapy to facilitate relaxation in the evenings.

In addition, art and music can increase dopamine production, which makes people feel happier. The happier a person feels, the less susceptible they are to the adverse effects of stress. When stress is reduced and managed effectively, the more likely a person will be able to find new happiness in their addiction-free lifestyle.

One way to intensify art therapy’s positive effects is by setting aside a home office or art studio where you can work, free of distractions, with as much natural light as possible. If your home requires some renovations to get you the space you need, good news: such renovations also boost your home’s sale value, so it’s a win-win!

Art and music therapy can be an immensely positive addition to a person’s overall treatment plan. The communication skills, self-confidence and stress management techniques gained during therapy can set you on the path of healing and sobriety.

by: Carrie Spencer of TheSpencersAdventures.net


Queer Art: Where is the Queer Joy?

Too often we dwell on the negatives of history's LGBTQ+ artists, dark stories, pain, and repression. We have like Keith Haring, who sadly died of AIDS, Basquiat, who died of drug abuse. Not just in the visual arts but across different art forms. But look closer and queer joy can be found, sometimes explicit, but sometimes in the abstract. Flowers, landscapes, colours and domestic scenes. So how do we find and illuminate this work? And why is it so important that we do? In this new series of three films, Not Seeing Straight: Celebrating Queer Art and Lives, we LGBTQ+ explore artists and their artworks. Since legal changes have in recent decades made the lives of queer people more open and free, so too has the art produced by LGBTQ plus artists. The world of queer arts opened up, becoming bolder, louder and more mainstream. Narrated by Afton Moran Produced by National Galleries of Scotland and HeeHaw Special thanks to: Glasgow Women's Library Equality Network Ru Jazzle Facebook: https://ift.tt/qH4lr6a... Twitter: https://twitter.com/NatGalleriesSco Instagram:https://ift.tt/ktRGns2... Website: https://ift.tt/058EYIh

View on YouTube


Nosferatu at 100

 Nosferatu at 100: how the seminal vampire film shaped the horror genre

Keith Corrigan / Alamy
Lindsay Hallam, University of East London

It’s the centenary of the cinema premiere of the German horror film Nosferatu. Now recognised as a classic of the silent era and one of the first examples of cinematic horror, it used elements of Gothic style to present a dark dreamworld. Ripe with undertones that link it not only to contemporary troubles, it also offers prescient warnings of horrors to come with the rise of Hitler’s Nazi regime.

The film is now considered one of the key films of German expressionism, a film movement from the 1920s that rejected realism in favour of creating imaginary worlds where stylised and distorted set design expressed psychological states of fear and despair.

Such tortured creation can be linked to external factors, with these films coming out of a Germany still reeling from its defeat in the first world war, plunging the country into a time of turmoil with rising inflation and political unrest. Added to this was the devastation caused by the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-20, which killed more people than the war.

The film remains a sensation of the horror genre and 100 years since its release it’s influence can still be seen within cinema today.

A complicated legacy

At the centre of the film is the vampire, Count Orlok. Orlok is unlike the dashing caped figures of Bela Lugosi in the 1931 Dracula and Christopher Lee in the series of Dracula films made at Britain’s Hammer Studios.

Actor Max Schreck’s Orlok is strikingly inhuman and repulsive. With his bald head, hooked nose, clawed fingers and pointed ears. He is often surrounded by swarms of rats rather than harems of women. This representation has been compared to hateful anti-Semitic images used in Nazi propaganda. It is unlikely that this was intentional as many of the writers and actors were Jewish. However, the notion of an invading “threat” coming to take over the land and comparisons between Jewish people and vampires were narratives that were used to justify state-sanctioned persecution and murder.

However, a narrative that is inherent in the story of Nosferatu and other expressionist films is the threat of authoritarian and aristocratic figures seeking to take control. The films made in this period foreshadowed a future full of death and terror, tyranny and murder.

In his 1947 history of German expressionism, From Caligari to Hitler, the critic Siegfried Kracauer argued that the genre reflects and documents the subconscious of the German people’s fixation with tyranny that would climax in the rise of the Nazi.

In Nosferatu, this plays out in the aristocratic figure of Orlok who exerts his supernatural influence over unsuspecting people, sucking their lifeblood, choosing who dies and who becomes part of his cabal of hateful monsters who enact his will. For Kracauer, the figure of Count Orlock represented the combination of fear and fascination that the spectre of fascism elicited in the German people.

Immortal and influential

While it is not the first vampire film, or even the first adaptation of Stoker’s novel (the now-lost Hungarian film Dracula’s Death was made a year prior), it established many stylistic and narrative tropes of the vampire story still used today. For instance, Nosferatu was the first time a vampire was killed by sunlight, a trope that has now become canon.

It also was the first German expressionist film to shoot on location, instead of entirely on studio sets – like the genre’s first film The Cabinet of Dr Caligari. For Nosferatu, director F.W. Murnau created a Gothic atmosphere in locations such as Orava Castle and the High Tatras mountain range in Slovakia. Such locations allowed audiences to see and sense the history of crumbling ruins and feel the elemental forces present in dark forests and raging storms.

The making of Nosferatu and its cast and crew have been subject to their own mythologising. The 2000 film Shadow of the Vampire posits that Max Schreck really was a vampire, entering into a Faustian pact with director F. W. Murnau to give his film the ultimate authenticity – in exchange for the blood of the film’s leading lady.

The TV series American Horror Story: Hotel has Murnau himself becoming a vampire while researching Nosferatu in the Carpathian Mountains. Once in Hollywood, Murnau turns an actor into a vampire, the immortality of the vampire likened to the immortality of film stardom.

Nosferatu’s blending of genre tropes and arthouse style even foretells the current rise of “elevated horror”, personified by films such as Get Out, The Babadook and Hereditary. In fact, one of horror’s newest auteurs, Robert Eggers (whose film The Lighthouse owes much to German expressionism), has hinted at a remake of Nosferatu (the second remake after Werner Herzog’s 1979 Nosferatu the Vampyre).

So, after 100 years, our fascination with Count Orlok lives on.The Conversation

Lindsay Hallam, Senior Lecturer in Film, University of East London

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Patricia Belli - The Scar of the Skin

Join visual artist Patricia Belli and discover what her artwork means to her. Filmed in Managua, Nicaragua; her home since birth, Patricia explains how the use of textiles and objects found in the environment around her, allow her to communicate with the audience. Through her work she strives to conjure up emotions and conversations surrounding topics such as femininity, trauma and survival, all particularly within Nicaragua itself. Subscribe for weekly films: http://goo.gl/X1ZnEl

View on YouTube

"Not all things are for sale" – artist Edgar Calel's family portrait | Tate

“In Indigenous Kaqchikel thought,” says artist Edgar Calel, "there is almost nothing that is done alone. All the things we do are done ...