Creating an Addiction Recovery Journal: How Recovery Journaling Can Help You Heal

When a person has been through treatment for a substance misuse disorder, it is essential to find ways to continue on a positive path so that relapse does not occur. Starting an addiction recovery journal makes the process much easier. In fact, keeping a journal brings a number of benefits. 

For example, it is a powerful tool to document thoughts, reactions, and feelings in a central location. During times of overwhelming feelings, a journal provides valuable insights. At Sana Lake Recovery Center, we teach members how to create successful long-term recovery plans, including keeping a recovery journal.

What Does it Mean to Create a Recovery Journal?

Indeed, writing things down is a helpful way to process feelings and to stop them from tormenting a person’s brain. Oftentimes, problems seem less worrisome when they are down on paper. Instead of writing random thoughts on different pieces of paper, a journal is a good way to keep things together. Also, it allows a person to track progress throughout recovery. In fact, it is possible to look back and be amazed at how much was accomplished.

A recovery journal does not have to be fancy. Overall, a basic notebook, a computer file, or a recovery app may be used. Since no one else will ever read it, a person can be totally honest. In the end, it is a great way to deal with emotions instead of turning to drugs or alcohol.

Certain Things to Include in an Addiction Recovery Journal

  • Daily emotion
  • Overall plan for recovery
  • Any identified triggers
  • Plans for avoiding triggers
  • Thoughts of gratefulness
  • Priorities
  • Motivations to stay on a positive path
  • Victories during recovery
  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Meditation or relaxation techniques that are successful
  • Eating habits
  • Short-term and long-term goals
  • Reflections of progress
  • Hopes for the future

How Recovery Journaling Helps with Long-Term Recovery

Even if a person is not a good writer, creating a journal can be one of the most helpful tools for his or her long-term recovery. Also, recovery journaling is healing. Besides helping to deal with a substance misuse disorder, it can help with a mental health disorder as well.

Connecting Emotions and Making Changes

During recovery, it is essential for a person to commit to his or her emotions and to be ready for change. Recovery journaling helps an individual become more open and to comprehend feelings outside of a traditional therapy session. 

In fact, having a record of experiences helps to identify and to appreciate progress. In other words, it becomes easier to set goals and to document the positives and negatives along the way.

Acts as a Reflective Tool

Most people lead busy lives. There may not be enough time to plan for the future. For example, if a person is recovering from a substance use disorder, he or she may not know how to steer clear from alcohol at a friend’s wedding. The individual can reflect on the problem and answer important questions with useful solutions.

Helps the Body

Altogether, writing helps a person process emotions. As a result, his or her mental health is improved. Also, it has been shown that writing strengthens the immune system and lowers blood pressure. In other cases, it has decreased depression and increased emotional health.


A drug misuse disorder is challenging. Many people lose themselves. In treatment, certain questions arise. Keeping an addiction recovery journal helps to address major issues and to track progress. Also, failures are documented. This shows a person that it is possible to get back on the right path after setbacks.

Replaces Unhealthy Habits

In essence, journaling brings organization to a person’s life. This is a positive way to deal with issues that arise. When a person has an alternative to using drugs, healthy habits can replace unhealthy habits.

Self-Talk Therapy

In treatment, members participate in individual and group therapies. For the most part, keeping an addiction recovery journal is like private therapy. A person can safely write about things that are on his or her mind and focus on feelings that are associated with them. This decreases the weight of the issue and helps to identify responses that are associated with it. Therefore, it is easier to let go of the problem. 

Also, it is possible to write self-affirming reflections that raise self-esteem and offer ways to positively get through the issue.

Keeps Recovery in Check

Recovery is often a rocky process. Many times, a person faces challenges. By keeping a recovery journal, it becomes possible to identify certain things that indicate relapse. For example, a person may note that he or she ignores group meetings or therapy sessions. 

Documentation helps to recognize danger signs. On balance, a person is motivated to remain on a successful path of recovery.

Other Benefits of Journaling

  • Alleviates stress
  • Provides a positive spin on different situations
  • Helps to move toward a goal
  • Helps to maintain accountability

Different Types of Journaling

There are a number of recovery journaling techniques that are beneficial for individuals who battle substance misuse disorders.

  • Stream of Consciousness. This type of journaling occurs as an individual sits for a set period of time and writes anything that comes to his or her mind. It is essential not to edit anything. In other words, grammar and spelling are unimportant.
  • Diary. By and large, a diary is kept as a person writes all essential details of each day.
  • Gratitude Journal. This type of journal is best for a person with negative thoughts. In fact, forcing a person to focus on positive things helps to change his or her outlook on life.
  • Spiritual Journal. All in all, this journal includes regular observations that involve a person’s spiritual development. In other words, it is like a log that follows a person’s internal journey.
  • Health Journal. This type of journal includes an outline of ways for a person to live a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, it is essential for a person who wants to make the most out of his or her recovery.

Things to Write About

Ultimately, there are no right or wrong things to include in an addiction recovery journal. There are no pressures, and things are totally kept personal and private. Therefore, a diary may contain dates, times, and feelings. 

Also, a person may include an event and feelings that are linked to the event. Other times, an individual might add reflections of things that could have been handled differently. To become more appreciative about life’s little things, a journal may include one thing that makes a person grateful each day.

Recovery Journaling Tips

When a person is not sure how to begin an addiction recovery journal, there are a few tips to follow. To begin, a person should set aside a few minutes each day to document feelings and experiences. Also, it is important to write in a private place without distractions. Consistency is key. Therefore, it is essential to stick to a regular schedule. It is always smart to keep a pen and paper handy. 

Ultimately, the urge to jot a feeling down can come at any time. Finally, an individual can review entries every few days so that reflection is possible.

When is the Right Time to Begin Recovery Journaling?

As can be seen, keeping an addiction recovery journal brings a number of benefits. Eliminating mental clutter and enhancing a person’s memory aids in healing and recovery. Therefore, there is never a right or wrong time to begin recovery journaling. However, there may be a few times when a person realizes that it may be exceptionally helpful.

  • When Overwhelmed. Journaling clears the mind. Also, it helps to release negative feelings.
  • Throughout Recovery. Certain studies have shown that journaling inhibits healing. During recovery, a person needs an outlet that takes away the pain and eliminates symptoms of mental illnesses. For example, a person with depression, PTSD, and eating disorders often finds great relief from journaling.
  • When Self-discipline is a Problem. Many times, people get stuck in ruts and procrastinate. In other words, motivation becomes low. In order to achieve goals, recovery journaling provides a visual reminder of what needs to get done.

Long-Term Recovery Tips from Sana Lake Recovery Center

At Sana Lake Recovery Center, we understand that recovery is a life-long process. For example, it is filled with many ups and downs. At our treatment facility, we teach members ways to enjoy success. In fact, one way that we stimulate positive recovery is by encouraging journaling. 

In essence, it offers a safe place to vent frustration, fear, and disappointment. Also, it is a wonderful opportunity to set goals, document success, and be grateful for things that are usually taken for granted. In other words, an addiction recovery journal is a unique expression and a record of a person’s journey to wellness. For more information, contact us today.