Pros and Cons of Journaling in Recovery
- Title: Journaling in Recovery
- Authored by Pin Ng PhD
- Edited by Hugh Soames
- Reviewed by Philippa Gold
- Journaling in Recovery: At Worlds Best Rehab, we strive to provide the most up-to-date and accurate information on the web so our readers can make informed decisions about their healthcare. Our reviewers specialize in addiction treatment and behavioral healthcare. We follow strict guidelines when fact-checking information and only use credible sources when citing statistics and medical information. Look for the reviewed badge on our articles for the most up-to-date and accurate information. If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate or out-of-date, please let us know via our Contact Page
- Disclaimer: The World’s Best Rehab Recovery Blog aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with addiction and mental health concerns. We use fact-based content and publish material that is researched, cited, edited, and reviewed by professionals. The information we publish is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider. In a Medical Emergency contact the Emergency Services Immediately.
- Journaling in Recovery © 2022 Worlds Best Rehab Publishing
Journaling in Recovery
Journaling has long been recommended as beneficial to our health, and its popularity has sky-rocketed in the wellness movement of the last few years, with everyone from your favorite influencer to your mom taking part in it. However, the health benefits mean that the trend is beneficial to us all, including those going through difficult times in their lives, and those who are going through recovery and sobriety from substance abuse.
For those battling severe mental health issues such as these, journaling in recovery can be an incredibly useful tool to help guide them through the process. If this is something that you think would be beneficial to you as you go through recovery, there are several ways in which you can use journaling to help you, and several types of journaling to choose from.
What is Journaling in Recovery?
The most common type of journaling is keeping a diary, detailing your day-to-day activities and feelings on events, allowing you to keep a log of events and as a result note any changes in behavior, whether positive or negative.
If examining feelings in greater depth is more helpful to you, you may be better in keeping a reflection journal, where you detail your emotions in more depth and examining why you feel the way that you do, or why you have reacted to events in a certain way, allowing you to examine your triggers in closer detail and understand signs that may make you more likely to struggle.
Gratitude journals allow you to reflect either morning or evening on things that you are grateful for each day, which has been proven to increase a person’s positive outlook on life significantly when maintained over a long period. In turn, a more positive outlook on life may make you more able to avoid the triggers that cause you to feel the need to turn to drugs and alcohol. However, if the physical feelings are more useful to you than the psychological ones, a health journal may be the best option, as you prioritize tracking physical symptoms and the mental symptoms that are directly associated with them.
Other types of journals that focus on tracking categories rather than writing in detail about minutiae are the goal-oriented journal and the spiritual journal. Goal journals focus on short and long term goals on how you want to change your life, while spiritual journals tend to have a wider focus on your future, what your life will look like, and the spiritual journey that you go on as you reach for it, regardless of the time of day.
If more than one of these journal styles sounds like it may be beneficial to you, you can combine several different types of journaling in recovery – ultimately your recovery journey is your own, and your journal should reflect and support that as much as possible.
Benefits of Journaling in Recovery from Addiction
Regardless of what kind of journal you choose to use, it can be extremely beneficial in recovery and sobriety afterward as a safe place to vent your feelings, provide stress and anxiety relief, and reveal patterns of behavior that can keep your recovery in check.
Journaling provides self-talk therapy, which is in itself a powerful thing as we learn how to self-soothe again, providing emotional awareness and a different, more distant perspective on your life and your thoughts. Such distance means that you can look back while moving forward, spotting patterns and healing pressures that lead to relapse as you spot the triggers in your journaling record.
Taking time to look back at what you’ve written can add to the sense of perspective journaling gives as you realize how far you have come and how much has changed since earlier entries. Being able to tangibly see this progress can motivate continued sobriety, especially at low moments or those where you are afraid that you might relapse1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3942795/. Journaling in recovery can help you to prioritize goals, problems, and responsibilities, which are especially important as you leave treatment and return to your everyday life with new sobriety.
Keeping your journal close by, especially in the early days of leaving treatment, is key, as it means that you can write about thoughts, situations, and feelings as they arise, especially as you go through this incredibly difficult transition in your life. Keeping a journal can be its support system, especially when you don’t feel able to share with friends fully yet, or once you have been discharged from your rehabilitation therapist much later on in your sobriety journey.
It is important to remember throughout your recovery and throughout your journaling that you should celebrate every victory, however big or small. Every victory is a step in the right direction, no matter what kind of victory it is, and should be noted in your journal, even if just as a short sentence. Journaling in recovery does not have to be a big commitment either – you can do it in 5 or 10 minutes in a quiet place and at a quiet point in your day. Everything that you write can be noted as lengthily or briefly as you want. Just because you choose not to write pages and pages of in-depth detail, does not mean that your journaling can be any less useful or less effective in aiding your recovery.
Journaling is a Great Recovery Tool
At the end of the day, it is important to remember that journaling is a useful tool, but that how you use your journal is very personal. Your journal is a tool and a friend, designed to help you distance yourself from your thoughts and feelings, recognize your progress, and spot trigger warnings or patterns of behavior, and should be designed to help make these things as easy as possible, and for you to get the most out of it, which can only be done by customizing it to your needs.
Ultimately, those who journal regularly show a more positive outlook, are less likely to relapse, and coped with the problems of sober life much better than those who did not. While trendy, it is still beneficial to all, whether or not you are in recovery.
References and Citations: Journaling in Recovery
- Brown PJ, Stout RL, Mueller T. Substance use disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder comorbidity: Addiction and psychiatric treatment rates. [Google Scholar]
- Lepore SJ, Smyth JM. The writing cure: how expressive writing promotes health and emotional well-being. Washington D.C.: American Psychological Association; 2002. [Google Scholar]
- Francis ME, Pennebaker JW. Putting stress into words: The impact of writing on physiological, absentee, and self-reported emotional well-being measures. [Google Scholar]
- Radloff LS. The CES-D scale: A self-report depression scale for research in the general population. Applied Psychological Measurement. 1977;1(3):285–401. [Google Scholar]
- Bartels SJ, Thomas WN. Lessons from a pilot residential treatment program for people with dual diagnoses of severe mental illness and substance use disorder. Psychosocial Rehabilitation Journal.[Google Scholar]
Alexander Bentley is the Chairman & CEO of Remedy Wellbeing™ as well as the creator & pioneer behind Tripnotherapy™, embracing ‘NextGen’ psychedelic bio-pharmaceuticals to treat burnout, addiction, depression, anxiety and psychological unease.
Under his leadership as CEO, Remedy Wellbeing™ received the accolade of Overall Winner: Worlds Best Rehab 2022 by Worlds Best Rehab Magazine. Because of his incredible work, the clinic is the world’s first $1 million-plus exclusive rehab center providing an escape for individuals and families requiring absolute discretion such as Celebrities, Sportspeople, Executives, Royalty, Entrepreneurs and those subject to intense media scrutiny.