How Journaling Can Help Your Recovery

Addiction counselors have used journaling to help patients overcome their addiction problems for years with respectable success. In fact, some patients attribute journaling to saving their lives. However, not everyone knows how to make journaling work for them and their addiction problems.

You don’t need to be a professional writer to start journaling. Simply buy a notebook and pen to start. Here is some information on how journaling can help a person’s recovery and how to get started.


How Journaling Can Help Your Recovery

It’s hard to understand how something as seemingly trivial as keeping a journal can help someone get sober, but it has proven results. The following covers some of the ways that journaling can contribute to your recovery.



Journaling gives you the opportunity to express yourself and tell your story. You get to let out the emotions you have pent up inside of you that may be causing you to act out. Drugs and alcohol can calm down those intense feelings for a moment in time, but writing those feelings out can calm you down for much longer.


Setting Goals

When you write your story, you get the opportunity to think about what brought you to your low point and what you will have to do to succeed. You can journal your goals and journey to achieve those goals; the first goal is to get and stay sober. Write the goal down and document your progress. You can even write down smaller goals that will lead you to your larger goals.


Staying Sober

Cravings hit most people during recovery. A proper outlet to express yourself about the cravings can give you the strength you need to make the right decision and stay sober. The act of journaling in itself can stop someone from relapsing. Writing will give you the chance to express your desire to relapse and weigh the pros and cons of your choices. The process will also give you the chance to examine the reasons behind your cravings.


Journaling Is a Positive Action

The very act of journaling is positive for your recovery. Writing in the journal every day teaches stability and consistency. These lessons can translate into your attempts to stay sober.


Why Journaling Is a Good Choice

There are a number of therapy options out there. Why choose to journal or include it in your treatment plan? Well, here are some of the practical reasons journaling works so well.


It’s Inexpensive

It doesn’t cost a lot of money to start journaling. A fancy journal and pen are nice, but you can get started with nothing more than a notebook and a cheap pen. Most other therapy methods cost money, so it’s nice to have an option that doesn’t cost much at all.


Journaling Can Improve Communication Skills

Some people struggle with communication. They may not know how to explain their feelings or thoughts. They may also not have a great grasp of the English language. Writing every day will help you increase your communication skills. You may learn how to talk about difficult topics and feelings. Also, you will learn how to write more effectively. This can help you when you go out into the workforce.


Journaling Helps With Self Discovery

You never know what will happen when you put pen to paper. You may learn things about yourself that you never expected. These can be both good and bad things. Either way, these moments of self-discovery will help you learn how your brain works and why you do the things you do. You can use this information to put you in the best situations to stay sober.


How to Start Journaling

It’s fine to simply start journaling without a plan. However, some people don’t have the words naturally flowing out of them. For people who need a little more help, here are some tips on how to start journaling.


Buying the Right Supplies

First, you need a journal and a pen. When you pick a journal, you should find one with a thick cover to prevent the journal from getting damaged easily. When looking at journals, pick one that will fit into your purse or glove box. If you write personal things in your journal, you may want to buy one that can be locked.

Some people journal digitally. People may start a blog or journal on a website. These can be private or public, depending on your preference. A digital journal can be saved on your computer or online.


Journal Types

There are a number of different ways to journal. Some common types include:

  • Diary Entries: Diary entries are the most common form of journaling. You simply write about what happened in your day and how you felt about it. You can also write about any topics that came into your mind.
  • Reflection Journal: In a reflection journal, you will write down a significant event and reflect on it. This gives you the opportunity to analyze your reactions and the implications of the events. If you did not handle things properly, your reflections could help you learn how to handle things better in the future.
  • Gratitude Journal: Some people make the mistake of forgetting their blessings. If you could stand to remind yourself of how lucky you truly are, a gratitude journal may be the best option. In a gratitude journal, you talk about the events of the day through the lens of gratitude. This will help you see things in a positive light and be grateful for the people and things around you instead of taking them for granted. For example, if you argued with your mom about her not wanting you to go out, you can write about how lucky you are to have a mom who wants you to be safe.
  • Goal-focused Journal: A goal-focus journal gives the person journaling the opportunity to write about what they want to accomplish and how they plan to get there. This becomes the main focus of the journal.
  • Creative Journal: Some people express themselves creatively. In a creative journal, you can use poetry or sketches to express the things that happen in your day and how you feel about them.



Some people don’t know what they should write about when they start a journal. The truth of the matter is that some days aren’t very interesting. However, there is always something to talk about. If you do struggle to find something to discuss, you can find a journal prompt. Here are some prompts to get your writing juices flowing:

  • Write a letter to someone you love or yourself (past or future)
  • Write about something surprising you learned about yourself in recovery
  • Write about the first time you used your drug of choice
  • Write about your progress
  • Write about what you want people to think when they meet you and how to portray yourself in that light
  • Write about some skills you want to learn
  • Write down different things you like about yourself or things you do better than most other people
  • Write about a recent mistake you made and what you can do to not make that mistake again
  • Write about someone or something you need to say goodbye to
  • Write about what freedom means to you


Tips for Effective Journaling

If you take the time to journal, you want to do it in the most effective way. The following provides some tips for effective journaling.


Set Time for Journaling Every Day

Journaling is most effective when you do it regularly. You need to set time every day to write. Most people write at night so that they can reflect on what happened throughout the day. You only need about 20 or 30 minutes.

Naturally, there will be days where you don’t have time to journal, especially if you are out of town or extremely busy. However, you should make a point to journal at least four to five days a week.


Write While Free From Distractions

Life can be very distracting. However, it’s up to you to eliminate the distractions while writing so that you have the opportunity to focus. Let people in your home know if you need some time to yourself for a little bit. You should also put the phone on silent and turn off the television.

Try writing in a comfortable, peaceful place. Most people need to find a place at home. However, you should also consider a nearby park, beach, or cafe if you have the ability to get away for a little bit.


Write Honestly

One of the most important aspects of effective journaling is writing from the heart. Some people avoid the truth, but journaling is all about telling the truth about your experience. Write about your honest feelings and your honest progress. If you do make a mistake, don’t be afraid to write about it.

Many people fear others will read their journal and use it against them. However, people don’t need to know about your journal. They also don’t need to have access to it. Keep it in a secure place when you aren’t writing if you are afraid people may try to read it. Don’t forget a digital or key lock, too.



When you finish writing a journal entry, that shouldn’t be the absolute last time you read it. You should go back and read your entries from time to time. Once a month or once every couple of months, you should go back and read your entries. While you read your past entries, you may be able to recognize progress, triggers, or room for improvement.


Use Journaling in Conjunction With Other Treatment

Journaling is a great tool. However, that isn’t the only way you should try to stay sober. Journaling works best when used in conjunction with other methods, such as traditional therapy. If journaling worked for you while in rehabilitation, talk to someone about how to incorporate it into your treatment plan once you go back home.


Granite Recovery Centers

At Granite Recovery Centers, we help people get sober, healthy, and happy. When you come to our rehabilitation center, professional medical staff will help treat the addiction and you as a person. One method of staying on the right track is journaling.

Journaling is a simple enough task. All you need to do is write about your day and your feelings. This journal acts as a form of therapy while also forcing you to write your goals and keep yourself accountable. Call Granite Recovery Centers today to learn more about how our programs and journaling can help you get and stay clean.

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