Journaling is a powerful tool that can help individuals tap into their innermost emotions, wants, and needs. It can even teach people to better understand themselves and help them take back control of their lives or even reinvent their life if they are struggling with the person they’ve become.
Journaling almost acts as a form of therapy to help people better process their emotions and cope with their life, no matter their situation and what they are dealing with. However, writing as a form of therapy has been especially beneficial for those dealing with addiction and substance abuse.
In addition to the adverse physical side effects of substance abuse, individuals that are struggling with addiction also often deal with warring emotions, inner turmoil, family and relationship troubles, a lack of self-esteem, and an overall inability to live a healthy, stable life — all of which can be incredibly overwhelming, making recovery a challenge.
With journaling, however, it can be much easier to process all of these things and better understand how they are affecting your life. It can even offer a sense of freedom and release from overwhelming thoughts and emotions, which is essential to addiction recovery.
Understanding Addiction and Substance Abuse
Substance abuse is a serious issue in the United States. Nearly 20 million adults battle with substance abuse every year, and 74% of those struggling with drug abuse also struggle with alcohol abuse. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of those struggling get the care and treatment they need due to a lack of available information or from feeling shame and being too embarrassed to speak up.
Single parents are particularly at risk for developing and struggling with substance abuse. Raising a child is hard enough for a two-parent home, so dealing with it alone can be even more stressful and overwhelming. In these situations, some turn to the abuse of drugs and alcohol.
While there are numerous resources available to help single parents recover from addiction, the rates of substance abuse remain high. Addiction screenings are increasing at healthcare facilities to curb this problem, but there are still likely to be some gaps from a lack of access to quality healthcare and the high cost of seeing a therapist.
This is where journaling can help. If you have access to a doctor or can see a specialist to aid in your recovery, that is always best. However, for those who don’t have the money or the access to quality healthcare, journaling can be a lifesaver. It can also complement other addiction recovery treatments for those who do have access to the care they need.
The Healing Power of Journaling
Whether you are dealing with substance abuse yourself or are trying to cope with a family member struggling with addiction, journaling can be a powerful and healing tool. When it comes to addiction, one of the first steps to recovering is speaking up and sharing your story. If you are too ashamed or scared to speak up, then you won’t ever be able to get the help that you need. With journaling, however, you can write your story down without feeling judged or shamed, which can, in turn, give you the courage to speak up and discuss your issues with someone who can help you.
Journaling also offers those struggling a safe space to let their feelings out. When you are dealing with addiction or a loved one who is addicted, there are often a lot of overwhelming feelings that can be difficult to process when you keep them bottled up. However, when you write your feelings down, it’s much easier to make sense of them and understand why you are feeling a certain way or why someone else is acting the way they are. This internal processing of emotions is essential when attempting to recover from addiction or learning to interact and communicate with someone else struggling with substance abuse.
Finally, journaling can also serve as a reminder to take care of yourself. Single parents battling addiction can have an especially hard time managing self-care and the care of their children. While it may seem selfish to focus on yourself when your addiction is causing harm to others, that is precisely what you need to do — because you’ll be unable to properly help anyone else until you help yourself.
Tips for Using Journaling to Cope with Addiction and Aid Recovery
There is no one right way to journal and make the most of the healing power of writing. For example, keeping a diary where you write down everything and anything might be what works best. Or, for some, it helps to journal with specific intentions, such as gratitude journaling to remind you all there is to appreciate, or goal-focused journaling to help you stay focused and keep track of specific goals and your progress towards them.
There are numerous ways to journal that can aid in your addiction recovery; just keep trying until you find the one that works for you.
Below are a couple of tips and prompts that can help get you started:
- Make writing a habit. Your addiction is a habit, so you will need to develop new and healthy habits if you want to recover. So even if you don’t feel like writing, do it anyway. The more you write, the more you can better process what you are going through.
- Reflect on the good. Though it’s helpful to write down negative emotions and bad things that might have happened to help you process them and move past them, it’s important to avoid only focusing on the negative. Remember to write about the good things and feelings too, and reflect on the progress you’ve made as well as all that you are grateful for.
- Write about your hopes, dreams, and goals for your future. When in recovery, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by how hard it is. So it’s helpful to set goals and have positive things to work toward and look forward to. For example, you could set a very specific goal, or you could simply write about what you would like to do or what you would be doing if you weren’t in recovery.
- Another essential addiction recovery writing prompt is to reflect on what you’ve learned about yourself and what improvements or changes you would still like to make. It’s also important to acknowledge what positive traits you currently like about yourself instead of only focusing on what has changed or what needs to change.
Again, there is no one right way to start journaling. Sometimes it helps not to think too much about it and just start writing everything and anything down. Eventually, once it becomes a habit, you may discover a style or a specific type of journaling that works best for you. Just remember that the more you write, the easier it will be to process everything you are experiencing and feeling. The road to recovery is long, but journaling can make it easier.
Frankie Wallace is a freelance writer from the Pacific Northwest. She writes about a variety of topics and spends her free time gardening.
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