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People with substance use disorder (SUD) benefit from developing healthy hobbies and routines during treatment and long-term recovery. According to Cureus, “Art therapy is used most commonly to treat mental illnesses and can aid in controlling manifestations correlated with psychosocially challenging behaviours . . . and enhancing the quality of life.” Hobbies like creative photography often provide the same benefits as art therapy by giving individuals an accessible format for honest self-expression. West Coast Recovery Centers encourages clients to explore different activities, including creative photography, to reduce the symptoms and side effects of SUD during treatment

Discovering Healthy Ways to Fill Your Free Time

Finding new ways to fill free time is an essential part of building healthy coping skills and routines. The care team helps clients discover hobbies or wholesome activities to replace time spent acquiring, abusing, or recovering from addictive substances. Creative photography is a common hobby. The activity allows people to explore their emotions and the world around them without judgment. 

Some of the primary benefits of creative photography include: 

  • Increased self-awareness
  • Greater self-expression
  • Increased confidence 

Creative photography allows people to examine their traumas, beliefs, and circumstances from a different perspective. Photography also encourages individuals in treatment to practice mindfulness. According to Health, “Taking a photograph links with other offline activities, such as walking and observing, that encourage a mindful engagement with the world.” Photography helps people engage more fully in their recovery by keeping them grounded in the present and mindful of their actions. 

Photography Connects People

Creative photography has become a part of everyday life for billions of people worldwide. Sharing everything from simple images of familiar domestic scenes to mind-bending advent garde photoshoots has become a part of social engagement. According to Frontiers in Psychology, “Photography-related behaviors touch the evolutionary functional domains of well-being and social connectedness, which are at the core of human nature.” Many people in recovery from SUD struggle with feeling socially isolated or lonely. Photography is a hobby that connects people from all over the world and reduces feelings of isolation.

4 Ways to Heal Using Creative Photography

Photography is a healing activity for many people. Turning physical objects or scenes into representational art makes it easier for some people to process abstract ideas and beliefs. Individuals in recovery use creative photography to increase self-confidence, self-awareness, and motivation. 

West Coast Recovery Centers provides clients with an opportunity to discover and explore hobbies during treatment. Each person’s care plan is designed around their preferences and needs. The flexibility allows people to try new activities and ways of engaging with their recovery. Photography is one of the most accessible forms of art to practice and requires no special equipment or skills. Below are four ways people find healing through creative photography. 

#1. Creative Photography and Self-Expression

Self-expression is an important part of healing from substance abuse. When used for art therapy or as a standalone hobby, creative photography enables people to share their experiences with others. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), “Since art therapy does not rely on verbal communication alone, it enables a therapeutic rapport to develop with people who are unable or choose not to express their feelings in words, but who would benefit from having someone ‘bear witness’ to their experience.”

Photography helps people work through difficult emotions related to their substance abuse, including: 

  • Shame 
  • Guilt
  • Anger 
  • Loss 
  • Denial 
  • Sadness

Clients in treatment often feel inspired when using mediums like photography to capture raw moments and transform them into a narrative. By taking images of the world and the things in it and putting abstract or creative meanings to them, clients examine their emotions safely and constructively. 

#2. Sharing Your Healing Journey Through Pictures

Many people in recovery benefit from sharing their recovery journey with others. Creative photography is an excellent medium for sharing personal stories, perspectives, and thoughts about recovery and addiction. The photos can be shared publicly, privately, or kept for personal use to track positive changes. 

#3. Reconnecting With the Past Using Creative Photography

Some people find it helpful to connect to parts of their past, including people, places, or things related to their life before substance abuse. Creative photography allows people to explore those areas of their past. The care team guides people through finding healthy ways to approach aspects of the past without triggering negative emotions. Photography and other creative activities are often helpful and allow clients to process memories and move forward in their recovery. 

#4. Capturing and Preserving Positive Moments

Preserving positive and uplifting moments in recovery provides people with inspiration for the future. Saving those images and using them to remember better times during challenging moments can keep people moving forward and reduce the risk of relapse. 

Some everyday things people take photos of to stay positive include: 

  • Friends and family 
  • Pets 
  • Sentimental objects or places 
  • Beautiful locations 
  • Group and community activities
  • Nature 

Spending time photographing beautiful and positive things makes it easier for people to avoid negative emotions. West Coast Recovery Centers offers multiple opportunities for clients to go out into nature and the local community to create uplifting memories.

Creative photography is a common hobby. People use it during art therapy or to explore healthy self-expression outside treatment. Photography allows people to put physical objects in a creative space, assigning them a symbolic meaning. Often, individuals in treatment use activities like creative photography to examine underlying issues affecting their recovery, including trauma or significant life changes. West Coast Recovery Centers helps clients discover healthy hobbies, including photography, to support long-term recovery. The care team encourages clients to incorporate healthy activities like creative photography into their treatment and aftercare plans. Clinicians guide clients through determining what activities may best support recovery. To learn more about our programs and services, call our office today at (760) 492-6509.  

West Coast Recovery Centers ( 370135CP), Valid through July 31, 2025
Jackson House Visalia (540056AP), Valid through May 15, 2025
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