Journal writing is a form of addiction recovery therapists often recommend to clients trying to stay clean and continue growing. Cataloging your emotions, documenting your experiences, and analyzing your feelings during the most difficult parts of recovery can help you see your progress and identify areas in which you still need to improve.
Taking a Personal Inventory
Step 4 of the 12 step program asks you to take a fearless and searching moral inventory of yourself for the purpose of addressing and repairing past wrongdoings. This is a process you will repeat, preferably on a daily basis as you strive to rise above your addiction. Keeping a journal is a good way to organize your thoughts as you perform your personal inventory. You can take note of your shortcomings, and make notes about how you plan to make amends for them. Referring back to your journal when you feel lost will give you some perspective and direction during this process.
Managing Emotions and Memories
Addiction is almost always a form of self-medication for the addict, used to avoid experiences or feelings. As your mind begins to clear from the haze of substance abuse, you will likely be faced with a barrage of realizations as your memories and emotions begin to surface. This can be a very overwhelming time. Writing what you’re feeling in your journal can help you purge these emotions and memories, and look at them objectively.
Taking care of your physical needs during recovery is essential to your success. The stress from past memories and experiences can cause depression and anxiety that can lead to relapse. Finding a way to channel these thoughts into an action may be essential to both your emotional and physical health. Journal writing is a way to channel thoughts that many addicts find to be very helpful.
Telling Your Story
Everyone wants to be able to tell their story, and have someone listen. However, for addicts, telling those closest to them everything about their addiction and the behaviors associated with it could be hurtful to their loved ones. The isolation associated with addiction is not something that is easily overcome, and there may be a period of time where you have a desire to share, but don’t feel quite ready to. Your journal is the perfect place for you to tell your story, without having to worry about the feelings or judgements of others.
Journal writing is an activity in which you can be completely unguarded, open, and honest. It’s a cathartic endeavor that can set the tone for the rest of your day. While analyzing past behaviors is important to making a change, your journal writing shouldn’t be completely focused on the past.
Overcoming addiction is about letting go of your past and focusing on the here and now. Most of your journal writing should focus on how you’re feeling now, how you’re managing your life, and what your plans are for the future. This will help you to keep your mind in the right place and keep you from dwelling on the negative.
Above all, make sure you’re honest with yourself. Your journal can act like a mirror during the recovery process, helping you truly see yourself and the changes you need to make. If you’re honest and consistent in your writing, it can be an incredible strength and invaluable resource to you in your recovery.
In her former life, Tiecen Anderson worked in sales and marketing for a large insurance company. Before starting a family, she decided to switch gears and pursue a career that would give her a little more time at home. She finished up her degree from California Sate University in 2008 and started picking up work as a corporate web content writer. She enjoys learning new things every day as she works with a wide variety of clients, building accessible, professional content for their websites