Addiction is a very individual disease and different people have different methods of coping. Some people choose to relieve stress and emotion through art, others prefer therapy, and some take advantage of a very powerful tool known as journaling.

Journaling differs from creative writing in the sense that you are logging your own personal feelings and experiences. Creative writing is beneficial in its own ways: you can create your own fairytale and live out your hopes and dreams in a fabricated story. But journaling deals with reality; with your past and present emotions, memories, experiences. It involves really taking time to focus on what you’re feeling, and the ability to tune into your emotions during addiction recovery is extremely important.

Most addicts tend to avoid their feelings. This is evident in the sense that this masking of emotions is what leads to their addiction in the first place. They try to cover up feelings of sadness, embarrassment, shame, anger, etc. with a substance that only worsens their condition in the long run. Addictions also cause people to lie, steal, and demonstrate dishonesty in many different ways. Taking off this mask and coming to terms with what your life has become due to addiction is difficult. Journaling can help you better deal with these repercussions and respond to them in an emotionally stable manner.

Journaling is defined as “keeping a regular record of experiences and feelings”. This means that journaling is an on-going process, similar to recovery. The best way to journal is to write an entry each day in order to best maintain a timeline of your improvement. Here are a few ways that keeping a journal will encourage your sobriety.

  1.   You’re acknowledging your emotions

using journaling to aid addiction rehabThe hardest part for some individuals is “feeling”. When you journal, you’re allowing yourself to reflect on experiences and gain perspective. Now that you’re more clear-headed, it might be easier to look back on the past and have a better understanding of your actions/decisions. It’s important to remember that not every journal entry has to be lengthy and detailed. Every day is different, and each of your entries will be different, too. Some will be longer, some will be shorter. Some will be of less significance and some will stimulate major breakthroughs in your recovery. The most significant part is that you remain consistent and

  1. You can see your successes on paper

With the ups and downs of addiction, it can be easy to forget how far you’ve really come. If you’re reflecting on your emotions on a daily basis, you essentially have a record of all of your good days and all of your accomplishments. Even seeing the tone of your writing change is a reason to be proud! Allowing yourself to accept your feelings rather than avoid them is huge progress. Additionally, if you’re having a bad day, you can leaf back to a time in your journal where you were experiencing the same emotions. How did you cope with them then? What was the next day like? Having proof that you’ve successfully dealt with tough times in the past is motivation to keep overcoming.

  1.   Promotes honesty

You can only hide from yourself for so long. With journaling, you are dealing with your rawest self: your goals, your dreams, your regrets, your accomplishments. No one is there to judge and you can be completely truthful. As you learn to become more honest with yourself, it will promote being more open with others. As uncomfortable as vulnerability is, it’s the key to recovery. The mask of addiction is no longer there to hide you from yourself, and coming face to face with who you are will allow you to implement the same transparency with others.

  1. Relieves stress in a positive way

Here is your friendly reminder that it’s okay to be upset. Recovery is hard, and there will be times where you’ll feel anger, sadness, frustration, and discomfort. Get these feelings out in your journal! If you start to feel a spike in your mood, grab a pen and start writing. Tell your journal why you’re frustrated and relieve some of that tension through your pen and paper. This method is much more beneficial than taking it out on someone else. Not only that, you can look back at your entry once your emotions have cooled and realize that you reacted in a healthy way. You have a better understanding of your feelings, and the only person that ever has to know what was going through your mind at the time is you.

Journaling is very personal, and doesn’t need to be shared with anyone else. You can write however you please, and document whichever adventures or milestones you desire. You might enjoy journaling so much that it no longer becomes a “coping mechanism”, but a hobby. Journaling can be as simple as a few words on blank paper, or you can go more in-depth and incorporate snippets of articles or pictures of inspiring places. Make it whatever you want it to be! These are your records and your feelings. No one else’s.

Scottsdale Recovery Center promotes the idea of journaling as a coping mechanism. We offer many supplemental forms of therapeutic activities that include yoga, outdoor hikes, equine therapy, art classes, as well as individual and group talks. Our staff is very involved in the lives of our patients and we treat everyone with great care and attention. Call us today to find out which of our programs would best suit your situation. The time to start living a better life is now.

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