Art & Health: Art in Addiction Recovery
Artists, Health workers, Academics and Addiction and Recovery specialists from 5 countries, 7 partner organisations and several further supporting organisations, including Significant Seams, are working on a groundbreaking piece of work funded by the EU: the project, called ‘Art & Social Change: A Path to Recovery.’ The project has an extensive team, tasked with the development of a training programme for Health Care workers to increase the use of Art based practices in Addiction and Recovery. The project has already undertaken a combination of desk-based research and focus groups, and collectively begun planning the development of materials to support the understanding and adoption of art based practices.
The research to date indicates that little academic research has been done about art in addiction contexts. However a growing movement of people are advocating their use. ‘Recoverists‘ articulate that the challenges we have likely heard about – needing new social networks, new skills for better employment, and ongoing emotional support – require ‘creativity.’ An addict must re-imagine their life, re-imagine themselves succeeding with breaking free from their addiction, and often face emotional demons along the way. Creative processes empower this re-imagining, and in some cases help the exorcising and addressing of mental health issues.
A mental health framework is envisioned to underpin the work. Mental health research, with and without intersections with art based practice, are extensive, and readily transferable. In fact, the project particularly recognises that people in addiction and recovery, and the professionals who work to support them, both tend to have struggles with mental health. The work of recovery is intense, deals with difficult emotional issues, and sadly, tends to involve a high level of relapse. As such, clients and workers alike must find reserves of resilience, healthy ways to emotionally protect themselves, and ways to connect with one another and accept support and enable success.
Art & Social Change is taking the perspective that by using art based practices to support and develop the well-being of health workers in addiction and recovery, we can also begin to embed the value of such practices in addiction and recovery work.
So far we have found many small isolated pockets of interesting and effective practice across Europe, a loose network of more established practitioners, particularly in the UK, and much passion and enthusiasm for the programme amongst front line workers in these areas, AND amongst people positively affected by addiction and recovery.
Significant Seams is providing community building and infrastructure support to the project, via contracts with Arts & Health Southwest and Portraits of Recovery. Learn more about the ongoing work and become part of the community here.