Writing for Addiction Recovery

How Journaling Exercises Increases Sobriety

Posted Feb 09, 2016

Sam Louie
Source: Sam Louie

As a therapist in private practice specializing in sex addiction treatment, I’ve noticed clients who read and write not only learn more about themselves but tend to stay sober longer.  Studies show consistent journaling can improve not only your emotional but physical well-being.

From an addiction treatment perspective, you can’t just stop an activity but must replace it with something healthy and positive. This is why journaling is a a great complement to addiction recovery.  “I think that anything that organizes your life and makes you introspective and also kind of slows down the urgency of a craving for a drug or behavior can be very helpful,” says Petros Levounis, MD, chair of the department of psychiatry at the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and vice chair of the American Psychiatric Association’s Council on Addictive Psychiatry.

Yet many people don't because they feel intimidated by writing.  But journaling is not about getting graded or getting critiqued, if anything the goal is to learn to embrace solitude and the inner thoughts that arise since addicts have learned to suppress, hide, or deny their thoughts and feelings.

In addition to our mental health, research shows the positive impact writing can have on our physical well-being which can include:

  • Strengthen immune function
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Improve lung and liver function
  • Fewer days in the hospital
  • Boost mood and psychological well-being
  • Fewer depressive symptoms

Remember that writing works a different part of the brain than simply speaking. It is for this reason that I ask clients to write, as they are able to tap into their deeper emotional reservoirs than they thought possible. In addition, after time they learn to see connections from their writing and discover the roots to their addictions. 

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