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Journaling During Inpatient Drug Rehab and Its Benefits

During drug addiction treatment, counselors almost always encouraged patients to keep a journal or a private account of their thoughts and feelings. This act has many benefits, especially for those in inpatient drug rehab. Self-monitoring is actually just as important as attending counseling sessions in many ways and can help patients become much more in tune with their feelings and needs, which will eventually help them make their better life a reality.

How to Keep a Journal During Inpatient Recovery

There is no wrong way to keep a journal. Often, your counselor, doctor, or another healthcare professional will suggest you take on this exercise during your treatment, but you will not always be asked to write in a certain way. Sometimes, you may be given prompts to write about, such as what your better life looks like or what makes you happiest.

You may decide to keep a journal and to write it in a number of ways, such as in stream of consciousness, diary entries, or another type of writing entirely. If your counselor does ask you to keep a specific type of journal, you may be asked to write about your daily routines, your exercise routine, or even to keep a gratitude journal, which requires you to focus on the positives in your life. No matter what type of journal you keep, doing so will often make a difference in your overall recovery and treatment.

How Journaling Benefits Recovering Addicts


Journaling can reduce stress.

Keeping a journal can have many benefits for recovering addicts. For one, it allows individuals to learn self-monitoring skills, something that is very important to recovery. A study from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration states that individuals who are in treatment, especially those who are also adults in the criminal justice system, should begin to recognize thinking errors and to “understand how those errors can lead to behavior that gets them into trouble.” Journaling can help with this, as it promotes the kind of self-monitoring and awareness necessary for patients to be able to recognize these errors.

Writing down thoughts and feelings also reduces stress, giving the individual a chance to vent. In addition, sometimes a person is not always prepared to share certain feelings with their therapist or counselor, and this is a beneficial way to get those feelings out and avoid bottling them up.

Other ways in which journaling benefits recovering addicts include:

  • Allowing them to write down and acknowledge goals in order to better achieve them in the future, as journaling can increase the likelihood that these goals will be achieved
  • Allowing them to track their progress as they continue through recovery so they can turn back in their writings and see how far they have come
  • Increasing their mindfulness in the same way meditation can by allowing them to engage with subconscious thoughts and emotions
  • Increasing accountability for actions as well as thoughts and feelings
  • Encouraging critical thinking
  • Diminishing the likelihood of focusing on irrational or unnecessarily negative thoughts
  • Preparing them to talk about themselves and their feelings comfortably with others

How Journaling Benefits Addicts in Inpatient Drug Rehab

Specifically, journaling can be a very important part of inpatient drug rehab. Individuals who decide to attend this more intensive version of rehab often are in need of many different treatment methods that work together to create a well-rounded program for each person. Journaling can be a very important part of this.

The process of inpatient care can be long, and many individuals are not able to reflect adequately on their treatment while they are still attending it. Journaling can help with this problem and allow patients to reflect on their care, as well as whether or not they believe it to be helpful, how they are changing over their time in treatment, and what they expect for the time when they will transition from inpatient care into an aftercare program.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, treatment in long-term residential settings is often “highly structured and can be confrontational at times,” which can be overwhelming. It is important for a patient to be able to vent about their feelings in a way that is safe, and journaling can be a necessary tool at this time. Activities utilized during residential treatment, often in the form of therapeutic communities or TCs, are “designed to help residents examine damaging beliefs, self-concepts, and destructive patterns of behavior,” all types of reflection that can be done through journaling.

One of the major benefits of journaling for patients in inpatient care is that it helps to combat depression. Patients who are feeling lonely without their families, isolated, or experiencing other symptoms of depression (sometimes partly due to being in the facility itself) can use journaling to get these feelings out. This can be much healthier and safer than keeping these feelings locked inside.

Other ways in which journaling can be beneficial to inpatients include:

  • Its ability to help the patient feel more prepared to discuss their feelings with their counselor upon the next session
  • Its encouragement of self-reflection, which is a large part of inpatient care as a whole
  • Its requirement that the patient face feelings and thoughts that they may not feel comfortable or ready to discuss in treatment but are still weighing heavy on their mind
  • Its ability to give patients something to look back on, to truly remind them of what it was like to be in inpatient care after they move on from treatment

Journaling has a wide variety of benefits for individuals in inpatient care, and it can be helpful to their caregivers as well, especially if the individual eventually feels comfortable enough to share what they have written. When a patient commits to journaling, they are truly able to write, read, and reflect upon what they are feeling and thinking, what they need and what they hope for the future, in their own words.

Do You Want to Learn More About Inpatient Care?

Or are you looking for an inpatient treatment center in your area? Do you still have questions about how journaling can fit into the program? Call 800-430-1407Who Answers?. We can help you find the right tools to begin your journey of recovery.

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