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Creative writing prompts for recovery

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31 addiction recovery journal prompts to use during your healing process

Addiction recovery happens at a different pace for everyone. You’re working through major life changes, and there’s no exact timetable for full rehabilitation. During this process, honesty – both with yourself and with the friends and family members journeying with you – is crucial.

Especially when you’re dealing with challenging emotions that might be difficult to convey to those closest to you, a recovery journal can be your best friend. You can write at your own pace and frequency, without worrying about perfect spelling or complete sentences.

Why should I journal during the addiction recovery process?

Whenever you sit down with your addiction recovery journal, the overarching goal is complete honesty. Since you’re not dialoguing with anyone else, you can be entirely honest with yourself about how the addiction recovery process is affecting you, where you might be excelling or falling short, and how you’re coping with difficult choices and emotions you might be feeling.

There are 3 main reasons why we recommend journaling during the addiction recovery process:

  1. Express difficult feelings. During the addiction recovery process, you’ll be battling with some difficult emotions. Sobriety is challenging, and relapse is real. This is where your addiction recovery journal can serve as an invaluable resource, allowing you an outlet to get any feeling or frustrations off your chest and onto paper. You’ll find that journaling during this period of time is a stress-relieving process that you’ll likely look forward to as your recovery progresses.
  2. Celebrate daily progress. The addiction recovery process takes time. It’s easy to get frustrated at the pace, especially when it feels like you’re not making any progress. When those moments happen, it’s a great idea to flip back in your addiction recovery journal to earlier weeks and prompts. As long as you’re honest with yourself in your journal, you’ll be able to track and celebrate progress from day to day and week to week.
  3. Maintain personal accountability. Personal accountability is huge during the addiction recovery process, specifically during early stages. Not only is the addiction recovery journal a great place to record feelings; it’s also a habit in itself. Once you integrate journaling as a staple of your day, you’ve developed a positive habit in place of a negative one. Accountability to your calendar and your emotions will go a long way toward reaching and maintaining freedom, and your journal is a major step toward making that happen.

There’s one important note we need to make before we outline our addiction journal prompts: there is no right or wrong way to journal. Change the color of your pen or pencil, write in full or half-sentences, skip pages, draw pictures and write sideways. As long as you’re honest with yourself, you shouldn’t let any other rules define what you write and how.

31 amazing addiction recovery journal prompts you can use right now

We always make time for the things we care about. That’s why it always helps to set aside time in your day specifically for journaling, even if it’s only 10 or 15 minutes. When you feel your creativity kick in, grab your addiction recovery journal and use one or more of our journal prompts to get started on an entry!

  1. What does unconditional love look like for you? Have you ever felt it?
  2. Dear past me…
  3. Dear present me…
  4. Dear future me…
  5. Write a letter to the 1 of the 5 people you love the most, even if you don’t deliver it.
  6. What would I be doing right now if I wasn’t in recovery?
  7. What have I learned about myself during the recovery process?
  8. Write a goodbye letter to something in your life you want to eliminate during your recovery process.
  9. What are the things in your life that make you smile?
  10. What are you grateful for in your own life? For the next 10 minutes, write down as many as you can.
  11. When were you the most confident? How did it feel? What made you feel that way?
  12. Write a chapter you would love to read in your own autobiography.
  13. Write down as many details as you can about one memory you’ll never forget.
  14. What does the word “freedom” mean to you?
  15. How have you seen yourself progress in the past week?
  16. List 5 things you couldn’t live without, and explain why.
  17. Identify something kind you’ve done for someone recently. How can you show the same love to yourself?
  18. Talk about your first love – it could be a person, a place, a pet, an experience.
  19. Describe yourself in 5 words. Then, describe yourself in 10 words. Then, describe yourself in 100 words.
  20. Draft a list of everything in your life you’d like to say “No” to.
  21. Draft a list of everything in your life you’d like to say “Yes” to.
  22. Write down the words you most want to hear someone say to you right now.
  23. Identify the last mistake you made, that you feel ashamed about. What did you learn?
  24. What is something you’re tired of? Why?
  25. How are you doing, right now? Don’t hold back.
  26. Write down 3 things you do better than most people.
  27. After recovery, what’s one skill you’d love to learn?
  28. Write down 4 questions you want answers to. How will you get those answers?
  29. When you meet new people, what do you want them to know about you?
  30. What do you want to accomplish tomorrow?
  31. Do you like who you are when no one is watching? How can you change that?

Get to know you better

Addiction recovery journaling is a great way to get to know the new you, as you transition from addiction through recovery to total freedom. Spend even 10-15 minutes per day writing, to better connect with any emotions you’re feeling, gauge where you stand in your recovery process, and even have a little creative writing fun along the way! If you can find the discipline to sit down and write, progress toward a full recovery will find you.

20 Prompts for Journaling in an Addiction Treatment Center

Journaling is a therapeutic activity that’s actually used in our comprehensive addiction treatment programs. Journaling is the perfect therapeutic activity to complement our forms of intensive therapy at Royal Life Centers.
Through journaling, guests are able to better connect with their emotions, record how they feel and react in the moment, and it provides introspective reflection. Guests often are unclear with their emotional state in addiction recovery, because the drugs have either numbed or intensified their emotions for a long time, once guests are detoxed they will have to work through how to feel and express emotions all over again. Journaling helps to bring guests closer to their emotions, allowing them to identify and record the emotion, their thoughts, and other insights.
Because we believe in the positive change journaling can bring to our guests, we use this and other activity therapies to complement the addiction recovery process. Journaling will allow guests to look back on their writings and be able to gain insight later. It is the perfect tool to help facilitate self-reflection, and provides a timeline of progress once looked back over.
Like most things, the most challenging part about journaling is to start. Often times, guests will express that they don’t know what to write about. To ease this concern, we have put together twenty different ways for you to start journaling in an addiction treatment center. Here are 20 prompts for journaling:

    1. What do you feel about recovery?

For this prompt, be sure to share your experience in recovery so far. Feel free to write about your recovery process in past attempts, and write about what is different now. What is your stance on recovery?

    2. Write a letter to your addiction

Be sure to include how your addiction started, how it’s made you feel, what it has impacted, who it has hurt, etc.

    3. What is your goal from addiction treatment?

What do you hope to learn, understand, or move on from? What is one (or more) thing(s) that you hope to get out of being in addiction treatment?

    4. Write about your happiest memory

Be sure to share as much information as possible. Who you were with, where you were, what you remember seeing, how you felt in the moment, what you did, etc.

    5. Write about the things you want to get back in recovery

Whether that be something intangible, like trust, or a material item like a house, car, etc.

    6. Write about why you think you were addicted to mind-altering substances

Why do you think you wanted to escape reality as often as possible. This prompt is emotion-provoking, and extremely beneficial to the recovery process in order to gain insight. Make sure you share this with a trusted therapist to begin exploring into the points you bring up in this writing.

    7. What are things that when you see them, they automatically bring a smile to your face?

Whether that be a picture of your dog, dolphins swimming, your best friend. Anything goes!

    8. What about those things do you think make you happy? Delve in deep

This prompt goes along with prompt 7, and it will assist in self-exploration.

    9. If you could give your past-self advice, what would you say?

Picture you are giving advice to a child or a teenager, except that child or teenager is you before you got caught up in drugs or alcohol, what advice would you give them?

    10. List what you are grateful for, write down as many things that you can within ten minutes

Fill yourself with gratitude! Sit down quietly for ten minutes and list as many things as you can think of.

    11. How would you describe unconditional love?

What does unconditional love mean to you? What does it look like?

    12. What brings tears to your eyes, without fail?

Is it something you see happening, is it a thought, is it a feeling? Explore your emotional reactions and what they are brought on by.

    13. Write about a time when you were exuding confidence

What were you doing? What were you thinking? Were you listening to music? If so, what song? Were you dressed up or down? Include all of the details you can think of.

    14. Write a list of questions that you urgently need answers to

The most urgently important questions you can think of. What do you need answers to as soon as possible?

    15. Write a letter to your future self

To take this prompt a step further, you can actually mail this letter to yourself on a delay, so that you can read this letter to your future self, as your future self.

    16. What is your biggest fear?

Write in-depth about your biggest fear and try to include where you think this fear stems from.

    17. If you were to write a book about your life story, what would you title the book?

Feel free to list out dozens of options!

    18. What’s one moment that you will never forget?

Add in as many details as possible. Include sensory details as well, what could you hear/taste/smell/feel/hear in that moment?

    19. What do you envision paradise to look like?

Is paradise an island in the middle of the wide open ocean, is it a treehouse in the dense jungle, is it a king-sized bed with silk sheets? What does paradise look like to you? What does it sound like? What does it feel like?

    20. If you were a character in a book, how would you describe yourself?

Would you have the same attributes? What would be the same, what would be different? What would your character be doing? What would your character be wearing? What would your character’s catch phrase be? Get creative!
Above are 20 prompts for journaling in an addiction treatment center. Of course these prompts are best done in treatment for alcoholism or drug addiction, because many of these topics will evoke emotions. It is extremely important to be in a safe, protective place when you are engaging in anything emotion-provoking— including journaling.
Alcohol or drug addiction treatment will provide intensive therapies, but sometimes you may just want to spend time doing self-exploration by yourself. These prompts are perfect to guide you to insight and understanding of who you are as a person, what you feel and think, and how you behave. Be aware of any alcohol or drug glorification, as that can trigger your cravings— although we believe self-exploration is a vital part of recovery from addiction, and sometimes you have to be honest with yourself and where you’re at in that process.

Our Treatment

At Royal Life Centers, we have addiction treatment programs that are designed to follow guests through the stages of the recovery process, offering guidance and support each step of the way. Royal Life Centers has treatment both inpatient and outpatient treatment options, including: medical detox, a residential inpatient program, a partial hospitalization program (PHP), an intensive outpatient program (IOP), an outpatient program (OP), sober living and graduate housing. In all of our treatment programs, we encourage therapeutic tools that aid the recovery process, including the using of the activity therapy we offer. In our activity therapy, we provide art therapy, journaling, and music therapy. Our highly-trained staff members will help guide you in the journaling process, but this list of prompts mentioned above are also helpful in getting you started.
Tartakovsky, Margarita. “30 Journaling Prompts for Self-Reflection and Self-Discovery.” World of Psychology, PsychCentral, 8 July 2018,
If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction, and is seeking treatment, please reach out to us at (877)-RECOVERY or (877)-732-6837. Our team is available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Because We Care.