Inspiring Stories: How painting has helped James in his drug addiction recovery
Art therapy is the use of art-making as a therapeutic intervention. A therapist might use drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking or collage to address emotional and behavioral health issues. Some people call this process "creative psychotherapy." It's an effective way for people to explore their thoughts and feelings about difficult situations in a nonjudgmental environment. It can be used with individuals of any age or ability level who are experiencing physical or mental difficulties stemming from trauma, abuse, drug addiction recovery or other problems that have typically been addressed through traditional talk therapy
In this article, James is one of the painters we have followed in recent months and was able to share his story. Painting has been helping James in his drug addiction recovery lately. Painting is an excellent way to be creative, work through difficult emotions and get away from the day-to-day stressors! With painting, you have the opportunity to experiment with colors, shapes, textures and more while getting your hands dirty. It's a therapeutic process that can help you focus on being present instead of overthinking your past mistakes.
As a kid he grew up with creative minds and creative hands in his family. His most grounded thought brings him back all the way to almost the beginning. His Oma & Opa were huge into ensuring he and all his cousins had access to tools to assist with their growth creatively. This included the basement and an entire shed converted into a craft & play haven. Boy was he lucky, those tools he learned, to spark his creativity have essentially saved his life.
He's working his way back to being a functioning forty something male who suffers from Bipolar 2 Mood Disorder and struggles with Addiction. It hasn’t always been this way, but he's working very hard at focusing on healthier living with his art and through a harm reduction model of reducing substance use. He has learned that there is no one right way to fight addiction.
"It is a very personal battle for me, my family, and my friends"
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Bipolar illness, and mental illness at large put people at a much higher risk for using illicit substances. For James, the substance was all about coping. It surely didn’t start that way, but it slowly ended up being the only thing that could get him through every day without crumbling. In fact, he was doing just the opposite. His use has caused permanent damage, legally, and with the loss of many friends. His family has held strong and united around him but not without some serious challenges.
He formed relationships with the wrong people and thought they were right. This situation started in late 2018 and is finally starting to give way in 2022 to a much healthier, positive, and brighter life, due to hard work including his family and with the expert help of a fantastic team operating at CAMH, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Specifically, he is being treated holistically, using the approach that works for him. The COMPASS program, and for him the LGBTQ group therapy program operated by a stellar team in the Rainbow program. The COMPASS program is accessible to everyone, by self-referral. It just takes some passion, focus, and creativity to want to do better, at least for him.
These 3 things are completely tied into his every day as he spends most of them painting. He never would have been here if you asked him ten years ago. He loves the ability to completely pour himself into the work and let it take the stress away. It has become his largest coping mechanism and passion. Little did he know those days spent tucked away working on arts and crafts with his cousins would pay off now. He didn’t have the courage to express himself this way for far too long. He found art, and in particular abstract work when a friend gently pushed him into trying new things. Every piece of his has a story behind it, and he can tell where he was in his journey when looking at the work he has completed so far
you can support someone struggling with drug addiction
There are many ways that you can support someone who is struggling with drug addiction. One of the most important things you can do is to learn about the disease and understand what your loved one is going through. You can also offer practical support, like driving them to appointments or helping them find a job.
It's also important to be there for them emotionally, listening without judgement and providing encouragement. Lastly, be sure to praise any progress they make in their recovery journey. During his painting journey, James was able to work through some tough emotions about the past without feeling overwhelmed or dwelling on them. Painting allowed him to be creative and use his hands while working through these feelings. He felt extremely productive because he was able to pour out his thoughts onto paper without having any negative consequences afterwards. Painting is a very good way to help people in recovery from addictions.
If painting isn't for you then another form of art may be, such as dance or music. Whatever interests you - just enjoy it :) Don't forget your community supports you too, if they're willing to listen with an open mind and are encouraging. At Click and Craft, we think James' artwork journey was particularly beneficial to his recovery. Thank you for sharing your story James and feel free to follow him on his Instagram account at @Jamesyvanhoof!
Looking for Art Supplies ?
There are a few places where you can buy supplies for your next art project. You can buy set of primary colour paint bottles, canvases, paint brushes, large wooden palette and table top easel on our online store .
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