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Recovery Ideas From the Arts

Sometimes people think of “the arts” as some sort of lofty category of things that are reserved for a certain group of people. But the truth is that the arts are all around us. Professional artists—actors, writers, lighting designers, costume designers, and so much more—make every single television program or movie you watch (yep, even so-called reality shows need these folks). The beautifully designed building you see on your way to work, the foam art in your latte, the song on the radio, the pithy comic you see in a magazine or online—all of those things and many, many more are the work of artists.

And because the arts are just about everywhere, they can provide some ideas and strategies that can be important to your journey if you are in recovery from a substance use disorder. Over the course of time, we have used the arts as a metaphor for a variety of concepts in blog entries. In this entry, we will revisit some of those ideas and provide links to those earlier entries.

Drawing Inspiration from Improvisation

When a jazz ensemble takes to the stage, they are likely to play songs with a recognizable pattern. First, the band will play the opening of the number together (this is sometimes called “the head” of the song). Then there will be a solo section during which some members of the group will each perform a solo they are making up on the spot. That kind of improvisation is a central feature of a lot of jazz, and it is what allows each individual to bring their personal artistry to a group effort. After the improvisation, the band might return to the way the number started to wrap up the music.

Recovery can be thought of as a piece of jazz music. There are some key ideas that everyone needs to master (going to meetings, eating healthily, forming positive relationships and ending toxic ones, and so on), but your journey is also distinctly your own. There is room to improvise when it comes to shaping the melody of your recovery journey soundtrack.

Want to read more on this topic? Check out an entry titled “Improvise Inside the Form: Jazz as a Metaphor for Recovery.”

The Importance of Neuroplasticity (as Revealed in a Musical Number)

Neuroplasticity is an absolutely essential quality of our brains. Without it, recovery from a substance use disorder would be all but impossible.

When you use drugs or alcohol over a long period of time, pathways are established in your brain—and those pathways train your brain to expect the ongoing arrival of whatever substances you are using. When that expectation is not met, the brain lets you know about it by firing up the symptoms of withdrawal, which very well might cause you to go back to the drugs or alcohol.

Fortunately, because of neuroplasticity—the idea that your brain can be reshaped (kind of like plastic)—new pathways can be forged over time. That means you are not stuck with the old, negative pathways, but can instead get yourself (and your brain) on the right track.

What to read more on this topic? We used the song “On the Right Track” from a popular musical to consider the ways the brain can be retrained in an entry titled “A Lesson in Neuroplasticity from an Unexpected Source: The Broadway Musical Pippin.”

The Important of Patience in a Fast-Moving World

Because of the fast pace of our daily lives, we tend to really value things that can happen quickly. We want food that can be prepared quickly. We want information delivered in brief bites. We want our commute to be short and fast.

But recovery is not about speed. It is about steadily maintaining your sobriety one day at a time. You cannot speed up the process or avoid the challenges or find a hack that makes everything about your sobriety journey happen in a flash.

Instead, recovery requires patience—particularly patience with yourself. That is true when things are going smoothly, when things are challenging, and even when you have experienced a setback like a relapse. Developing a steady and patient approach to staying sober actually makes staying sober more likely.

What to read more about this topic? We considered quick-change artists as a metaphor for how appealing a fast change can be in a blog entry titled “Be Patient in Recovery.”

We Practice the Art—and Science—of Helping You Get Sober

French Creek Recovery Center offers comprehensive substance use disorder recovery services in Meadville, Pennsylvania. We are wholly committed to evidence-based practices that include group and individual therapy, holistic treatment approaches, and family involvement. If you are struggling with drugs or alcohol, we will see you through medically supervised detoxification, a rehabilitation program that includes treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders, and the early days of your recovery journey via our continuum of care. We personalize your treatment because there are no cookie-cutter solutions when it comes to addressing substance use disorders. When you are ready to get sober, we are ready to get started.