Substance use disorder (SUD), also known as addiction, is characterized by compulsively engaging in rewarding stimuli despite negative consequence. It is a chronic, relapsing brain disorder, and is listed as such in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Since the disease compels an individual to prioritize satisfying his or her substance cravings above all else, an individual struggling with addiction can experience a plethora of adverse effects. Part of recovery entails engaging in behaviors and cultivating and implementing healthy habits that help to achieve an ideal mental and physical balance. Journaling, for example, plays an integral role in the recovery process.
Journaling in Recovery
Journaling is a self-care technique that involves writing down and documenting one’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences. It is a simple and effective form of self-reflection that helps people process emotions, relieve stress, and gain clarity. Writing down one’s thoughts can be advantageous to one’s addiction recovery process. There are a variety of benefits to writing in a journal. Journaling in recovery can help people:
- Explore and identify emotions.
- Refine decision-making skills through reviewing pros and cons.
- Express fear and uncertainty.
- Identify negative thoughts and behaviors and provide an opportunity for positive self-talk.
- Feel and process anger, sadness, regret, and other challenging addiction-related emotions.
- Studies have shown that journaling can help to reduce depression and aid in grief.
- Gain insight into their own and other people’s feelings, thoughts, patterns, and motives.
- A study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology showed that cognitive integration and working memory were both enhanced through the act of expressive writing in journals.
- Increase distress tolerance skills through carefully examining thoughts about something after the immediate situation has passed.
- Plan out difficult conversations ahead of time.
- Take note of the positives as well as the negatives.
- Track feelings and thoughts over time.
- Self-analyze one’s recovery progress.
- Develop coping strategies and learn to regulate emotions more effectively.
- Enhance physical well-being. According to Psychology Today, writing can strengthen one’s immune system, lower one’s blood pressure, and improve one’s lung and liver function.
Writing in a journal can help individuals in recovery cultivate a positive self-concept and increase self-esteem. Journaling prompts people to reflect on their strengths and accomplishments, which can build confidence and self-reliance. Recovery outcome relies on employing various strategies that help to reinforce one’s commitment to sobriety. Overall, when used in concert with other continuing care efforts, journaling can positively impact personal growth while elevating one’s recovery journey experience.
For Information and Support
Substance abuse and addiction can be incredibly dangerous and can result in severe short and long-term consequences. If you or someone you know is suffering from substance abuse or addiction, please get help as soon as possible. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to leading happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives. There is no reason to go through this alone, and we are here to help. Please feel free to reach out to us for further information or with any questions regarding substance abuse or addiction. We are available anytime via telephone at: 213-389-9964, or you can always email us at: email@example.com