Journaling in Addiction Recovery

Content medically reviewed by Vicky Magobet, PMHNP-BC, on February 15, 2021.

Journaling is a form of expressive writing. The goal is not to create a product, such as an essay or story. Instead, the act of writing your thoughts and feelings down on paper allows you to process, understand and cope with your inner life. A regular journaling routine can be an incredible tool in your recovery toolbox.

The Benefits of Journaling

Journaling has many incredible benefits for anyone. Yet, for those in recovery, the exercise of writing out your thoughts and feelings can be an effective method of addressing the stress and emotional toll of your past, present and future. The journaling process can help you:

  • Track your symptoms, setbacks and successes.
  • Recognize, understand and deal with triggers.
  • Disclose thoughts and feelings without fear of criticism.
  • Deal with stress, anxiety, grief and depression.
  • Keep a record of your recovery-related struggles and triumphs.
  • Work through difficult emotions.
  • Hold yourself accountable for your decisions and actions.
  • Invest in self-discovery.
  • Prioritize goals and responsibilities.
  • Identify and challenge negative or self-defeating thoughts.

How to Put a Journaling Routine in Place

There's no right or wrong way to journal. You can write whatever you want, and your journal can be as structured or as loose as you wish. The goal is to express yourself and learn from your written reflections. Here are some tips for establishing a journaling routine:

  • Try to write every day. If that's not possible, try to write on a regular schedule. Consistency will help you track your growth.
  • Find a private place where you can write, free from distractions.
  • Write for at least 20 minutes.
  • Express the feelings and experiences that impacted your day.
  • Review your journal periodically and reflect on the entries.

Types of Recovery Journals

There are countless ways to journal. However, several types of journaling naturally lend themselves to the recovery process. Everyone is different, and one method may appeal more to you than the others. Your journal could be a:

  • Diary: A written account of the day's events and how you felt about them.
  • Reflection journal: A written reflection on the day where you consider how different choices, thoughts or behaviors may have led to better outcomes.
  • Gratitude journal: A place to make a note of people, situations and things that you appreciate and are grateful for.
  • Goal-focused journaling: A written record that helps you keep track of the goals and objectives you're working toward.

Journal Entry Ideas

You can write about anything you like in your recovery journal. However, if you're finding it difficult, here are a few prompts to get you started:

  • How do you feel about your recovery today?
  • What scares you the most about recovery?
  • What are you worried about, and how are you coping?
  • If you weren’t sober, what would life be like today?
  • Write the top 10 things you have learned in recovery.
  • What are you most proud of?
  • What do you wish others knew about you is?
  • Write about five people you admire and why.
  • Your short-term goals are...
  • Your long-term goals are...

Gain the Tools You Need for a Successful Recovery at Diamond House Detox

Journaling is just one tool that can aid your addiction recovery journey. At Diamond House Detox, you'll learn other evidence-based strategies to help you with your long-term recovery goals. If you would like more information, please contact us today.