Drinking Me/ Sober Me collage
Getting clean and sober is more than detox and support. Patients learn new coping skills and address family of origin issues, among other things. Perhaps most importantly, patients are introduced to the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and work the first few steps. Completing all Twelve Steps is the work of a lifetime; treatment focuses on the first three. Most important for a solid foundation is the first step – admitting powerlessness and recognizing the unmanagebility that accompanies the disease. This means coming out of denial and facing the truth about addiction and the impact it has on every aspect of the addict’s life. Art therapy may assist and clarify this task.
M. made this collage in response to this art therapist’s directive to do a compare/contrast collage. On a folded piece of paper he was asked to glue words and images that illustrate Drinking Me (on the left side) and Sober Me (on the right side). This collage assignment works with drug addicts who may illustrate Using Me and Clean Me. Very often the individual client is both.
There are several significant things to notice in this therapeutic exercise. It is plain to see that his drinking life life literally centers around alcohol and is not fulfilling. Patients are sometimes surprised to find themselves grieving the loss of this “old friend”. This patient represents his “bottom” with a skull and crossbones. Death is a low bottom and a very real eventuality for alcoholics and addicts. Here the patient sees the “unmanageability” of the active alcoholic/addict’s life as described in the first step of Alcoholics Anonymous.
The emptyness of the right hand side of the page and the lack of images speaks to how very new and almost impossible-to-imagine life without alcohol and drugs may be. M. can intellectually see how sobriety may look but has very little experience with how it feels. It is literally hard to picture. Sobriety means not only giving up an old lifestyle, but also replacing it with a more meaningful one