Journaling for More Effective Recovery

While patients are enrolled in addiction treatment, they will work with substance use counselors to focus on their mental and emotional wellbeing. These sessions can be vital to their future in long-lasting recovery and provide opportunities to learn effective coping habits that keep cravings and relapse at bay. However, patients will also develop tools they can use and work on in their own time when not visiting their recovery locations that will also aid them on their journey.

Journaling has been found to be effective for people in addiction treatment in recovery as a means to reduce stress, anxiety, and other negative and potentially harmful emotions. Because many people with substance use disorder have also previously experienced trauma, the method of journaling their feelings creates an outlet for negative thoughts that are otherwise repressed or fester internally, causing damaging setbacks in treatment and recovery.

Types of Journals

There are various kinds of journals one can keep, focusing on one specific element at a time:

  • Diary: recording daily events, thoughts, and emotions

  • Gratitude: focusing on positive and inspirational ideation and thankfulness

  • Spiritual: religious or spiritual scripture, visuals, excerpts, and dictations

  • Health: organizing and tracking overall health, including nutritional goals and exercise routines

  • Random: stream of consciousness writing without too many boundaries

Someone can keep all of these journals, or only one, depending on what they find most useful, but they should not limit themselves too much to a single form of journaling for optimal results.

Benefits of Journaling

There’s no right or wrong way to journal. Some people prefer to use paper and pen; some choose to keep an online journal and type out their thoughts. Regardless of the medium, patients who engage in journaling will find that it benefits them in more ways than they previously thought possible.

  • Accountability: by keeping entries brutally honest and accurate, patients can hold themselves accountable as they move forward while also providing space for planning to improve or work harder.

  • Reflection: looking back on previous entries, patients can observe how much they’ve grown and use older entries to determine various triggers and circumstances that have both negative and positive impacts.

  • Self-discovery: whether it’s a creative stream of consciousness writing or more emotional and personal journaling, individuals are bound to learn a thing or two about themselves while expressing themselves.

  • Foresight: combining physical, emotional, and mental health and putting them in writing, along with using imagery, can act as a guide for future success.

Journaling should feel therapeutic, not like a chore. While patients may need some practice to adjust to their preferred journaling method, the exercise should be productive, much like a session with a substance use counselor.

Middlesex Recovery provides full-spectrum substance use disorder treatment in an outpatient setting that focuses on the whole patient. With medication-assisted treatment, substance use counseling, access to medical staff, and referrals to specialists, our facilities are prepared to help anyone who wants to overcome their addiction. Check out our guide, or give us a call today with any questions or to get started on the road to recovery.