Exploring a blog from the HART (Croatian Art Therapy Association) is an opportunity for continuous learning. Readers can gain a profound understanding of the therapeutic process and witness the resilience, growth, and self-discovery that unfolds within the artistic journey.
In January 2024, Vesna Matić, conducted an art therapy workshop for the users of the Day Hospital for Addicts at the Institute for Addictions, Psychiatric Clinic Vrapče. In a two-hour workshop organized by art therapy in residence Vesna Matić, around fifteen participants took part with the support of Dr. med. Mateja Grizelj Benussi, a specialist in psychiatry.
Through art therapy for individuals with alcohol addiction, participants had the opportunity to express themselves creatively and find a space for communication. Engaging in the art therapy process allowed them to explore layers of their emotions, internal experiences, and confront the challenges that come with the recovery process. Additionally, the group dynamics of support provided them with a sense of unity and understanding.
Some of the messages that participants found within their art therapy drawings:
"I am free because I can decide whether to go left or right; therein lies my freedom. I don't know where I'm going, but I know I can choose."
"I walked a path that cannot be passed. There is a big warning sign, Stop. I need to find another way."
"On my path, there are tall pillars reaching to the sky, guarding me; that's my family. Maybe I miss a bit of sky and sun."
"I love structure, and that's how my drawing is. Structure helps me organize my life; that's how I've been taught since childhood. I return to structure to feel better."
"I always put myself aside; I don't know if I'll be accepted. Here, I am in the center of the drawing, and I am accepted in the group."
"I'm going through a very difficult period, the toughest so far. There's a river on my path, deep, dense, dark, and the weight is felt. The group is important and supports me on this journey."
"I'm moving from the past towards the future. In the past, there's a forest where I got lost, and now I'm halfway, knowing where I'm going."
"I'm heading to a rest stop in Maksimir, having coffee and not thinking about anything. Taking a break from everything is essential to me."
"On my path, people have littered even though there is a recycling place. It bothers me a lot; why things aren't put in their place and released."
What is addiction?
Addiction is a complex disease that can impact various areas of a person's life. When we talk about alcoholism as an addiction, it is a disease that develops gradually and is not immediately noticeable to the individual and the surroundings. Alcoholism evolves through continuous alcohol consumption. It is a complex illness that affects not only the person who drinks but also their family, the community they live in, and the work environment. Furthermore, prolonged and excessive use of alcoholic beverages leads to damage to the body and disturbances.
Alcohol and changes in the brain
Prolonged excessive alcohol consumption causes changes in the brain, such as alterations in neurons, including reductions in their size. Addiction can be framed as a repeating cycle, with three stages. These stages primarily involve three domains: incentive salience, negative emotional states, and executive function. The domains are reflected in three key regions of the brain: the basal ganglia, the extended amygdala, and the prefrontal cortex, respectively.
You can read more about it here:
Alcohol and the adolescent brain
Did you know that adolescent brains are more sensitive to the negative effects of alcohol than adult brains? Alcohol misuse during adolescence can alter brain development, potentially resulting in long-lasting changes in brain structure and function.
Do you respect the personal boundaries of addicts?
It is important to respect the decisions and boundaries of others, especially when it comes to alcohol consumption. Each person has their reasons for deciding not to drink, whether related to personal health, religious beliefs, or simply personal preference. If someone clearly states that they do not drink, it is important to support that decision. It is essential to be aware that insisting on alcohol consumption can deeply push someone into an unwanted state from which they find it difficult to escape. Let's respect someone's choices and boundaries.