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The Benefits of Journaling in Addiction Recovery


There are many tools for addiction recovery. Many storied authors and other creative types have been known to keep a daily journal. Oscar Wilde was said to have always carried his with him so that he would have something exciting to read. You don’t need to live a famously exciting life though, and regardless of what fills the pages of your journal, you can enjoy the benefits of keeping one. 

Journaling looks different to everyone. Some people like to keep one in a leather-bound notebook, others find that blogging online everyday is most effective, and others simply keep a journal in the notes on their phone. Regardless of what your style is, the important thing is consistency. Studies show that people who stay consistent with their journal enjoy more benefits than those who leave it in the drawer. 

Staying in touch with how you’re feeling by keeping a journal has been shown to have many benefits including increasing mindfulness, boosting IQ, and sparking creativity. Some other benefits, like helping to achieve goals, strengthening self-discipline, and building self-confidence, are especially helpful for individuals in addiction recovery. Some excellent benefits of journaling while in recovery include:


Routine is especially important during the process of healing we experience in recovery, and keeping a journal is just one way to facilitate a positive one. Many people choose to record the thoughts and feelings they experienced during the day before bed, others find that writing in the morning, and again at night, is a good way to track progress daily. How and when you write in your journal matters less than that you do it regularly and honestly. 

Find a time in the day when you feel most alert and set it aside for spending time alone with your thoughts. Journal in a place where you are comfortable and won’t be disturbed. Maybe a coffee shop works best for you, or maybe taking a walk while using your phone to record yourself is helpful. Whatever your process is make it a mandatory part of your day and strive to be diligent an honest while writing. 


Sometimes, staying in the right frame of mind is the best weapon against addiction and journaling has been shown to boost mood and increase feelings of well-being. Keeping a journal is a great way to work through difficult emotions and can serve as a place to let things out that we might not know how to say to other people. 

Studies show that journaling encourages people to write with less fear of judgment or criticism and people often open up more on paper than they might to their peers, counselors, and even themselves. Journaling helps people in addiction recovery create and maintain a more positive outlook by relieving the anxiety that often comes when we’re tackling difficult emotions, allowing for less depressive symptoms. 

Something special happens in our brain when we write down our thoughts. When we compose our thoughts and ideas specific connections are made in our brains. While forming thoughts and putting them on paper our brain is forced to reorganize those thoughts as we record them. This process requires us to engage in cognitive recall improving our memory and comprehension skills. We know that a healthy brain is a happy brain and keeping a journal is a great way to work out your mind.


Discipline is key during addiction recovery and although it seems like a small act, keeping a journal plays a critical role in creating it. Just like our brains, our behaviors are a muscle and the more we exercise them the stronger they become. Also, the habits we form in one area of our lives tend to bleed over into others. So, by maintaining the habit of journaling you’re simultaneously learning how to make other healthy practices a habit as well. 

Another benefit of routinely journaling that also presents fringe benefits for self-discipline is the ease with which it allows you track goals, setbacks, and progress. By committing your goals to paper (or your phone) your creating a pathway in your brain that signals the importance of those things. Intricate systems in your brain will then bookmark relevant skills and tools to achieve those goals. 


Recovery is often a long road filled with setbacks and triumphs. One of the best reasons to journal during recovery is to keep track of the moments that define the process. A journal becomes a reference for where you’ve come from and where you want to go and also serves as a touching off point for therapy visits should you choose to share your experiences. Many people become sponsors in order to give back to their addiction communities and a journal is an excellent tool for looking back on their journey to find solutions and advice for others. 

There isn’t a wrong way to journal but focusing on being honest and open with yourself is paramount and will provide the best results regardless of what style or format you choose. It’s true that every journey starts with a single step, but sometimes the sentences are just as important. 

  • Makes it easy to track symptoms, setbacks, goals and progress
  • Improves awareness and understanding of triggers 
  • Helps to identify and correct negative self-talk 

Journaling is an excellent way to keep track of progress. Looking back at the things you were struggling with, or how you felt during certain times is an effective way to measure growth through the process of recovery. 

At Harmony Place in Woodland Hills, California, we provide a relaxing, comfortable environment for addiction treatment and recovery with many addiction treatment program options, including our Medication Assisted Treatment program. Contact us today at 1-(888)-789-4330 to learn more about our services and how you or your loved one can prepare for a successful rehabilitation from drug and alcohol addiction at our California treatment center.