Promoting change and increasing self-esteem are crucial factors in recovery from substance
use disorders. The costs from substance abuse are enormous and it has been reported that
over 60 percent of admissions into substance abuse treatment programs were repeat
admissions (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2002). This study
was conducted with recovering substance abusers in residential treatment to examine the
benefit of art therapy as a conduit for increasing self-esteem in substance abuse recovery.
Prior to, and after engaging in art sessions designed to increase self-esteem, the participants
took the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (1965). Although men and women come into
treatment with low self-esteem, women also have unique gender-specific issues affecting
their self-esteem. A measurement of difference between men and women was conducted.
This pilot study showed that art therapy can be a part of the multi-faceted recovery process in
both a qualitative and a quantitative approach.