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Shedding Internalized Shame and Guilt: The Use of Art Therapy in Substance Use and Mental Health Treatment Programs

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Raasch, Nora C.
Dec 22, 2016
Substance use disorders; Stigma; Visual Arts; Art Therapy
Drug and alcohol abuse has become a costly epidemic in society. Helping those who suffer from addiction requires proper treatment and care. Addiction is defined as compulsive alcohol and drug seeking despite negative consequences. It is a biopsychosocial disease that is wide-ranging on a complex scale. Often people who suffer from addiction internalize the stigma that comes along with the disease so much that they consider it a part of their identity. The “addict” part of an individual’s identity is often negative and feelings of guilt shame and low self-esteem become internalized. Through the review of art therapy sample studies, cognitive behavioral therapy treatments for addiction and neuroscience and biological research, it becomes apparent that other methods of treatment need to be explored to improve success rates of recovery and positive view of self. Art therapy could be a beneficial tool in the improvement of addiction treatments and in shedding the negative internalized stigmas of the illness.
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