The Power of Writing in Recovery

The Power of Writing for Recovery

Stories have the power to transform lives, guide and transform not only individuals but entire communities. People in recovery especially reap the benefits of using writing to help heal and be transformed. Stories are powerful and can take many shapes or forms. Discover the power of personal storytelling through writing and how to utilize it for maximum effect in recovery.


Writing and Recovery

Many people in recovery programs complete workbooks or journals, penning thoughts and answering questions on the 12 step process. The only step which requires writing is the fourth step to ‘make a searching and fearless moral inventory,’ and to ‘make a list of people harmed’ for the eighth step. Regardless of requirements, writing is an essential tool for peeling back the deeper layers of a person’s emotional life, uncovering destructive thought patterns and behavioral tendencies which gave rise to addiction in the first place. Writing helps a person get out what’s in the head and heart to work towards growth and healing. In essence, words transform lives.


Freedom Writers

Hilary Swank played a high school teacher in a movie about troubled inner-city teens to help the youth discover tolerance and rekindle dreams through creative writing. Creative writing can be instrumental in substance abuse treatment and recovery. Whether a person is encouraged to write by someone or not (therapists, counselors, family, friends, support group) it is the self-expression which helps people grow in recovery. Pulling stories from personal experience helps outline ways that an individual experienced conflict, challenge and eventually worked to overcome the situation for the better.


Getting Started

There are many ways to use creative writing in recovery. It can be used as a tool to:

  • Journal for personal growth
  • Share thoughts and feelings with close-knit family and friends
  • Share one’s recovery journey with a broader community on social media, through books or other outlets


Regardless of whether a person wants to write a book, share work with a co-writer or just journal privately, writing is therapeutic. Start by writing down some ideas, thoughts and feelings that come about the journey through addiction to recovery. It may help to also try focusing on concrete descriptions of what makes up the essence of the story, why it matters and who will be reading the material. If it is a private journal, then those things will not matter. But, keeping a journal can result in eventually publishing the work somewhere else in the form of a book of stories, poetry or may even lead to other types of artistic expression with visual content. Sometimes opening the doorway to creativity through writing leads to other forms of expression.


The journey to writing about one’s recovery journey is a personal one. The adventure is in writing, growth and healing which comes from seeing how far one has come from one end of the journey to present day. A person need only start right now and see where the journey goes.


The Villa provides resources and information to support individuals and families struggling with addiction. If you are seeking help, call us to see how we can get you started on the path to recovery.