‘Art Therapy’ to help people cope with addiction | Sunday Observer

‘Art Therapy’ to help people cope with addiction

When it was realised that over 30% of suicides are linked to Alcohol and Drug addiction, the Sumithrayo Drug Demand Reduction Program (Mel Medura) was set up in 1984. Since then Mel Medura has been in the forefront of rehabilitating those with difficulties arising from the misuse and abuse of alcohol and other drugs.

Recently, Mel Medura opened its doors wide to welcome people who need help with behavioural addictions. These include, smart phones and other digital devices, the internet, video games, pornography, social networking and gambling. The response has been overwhelming – proving that this area of addiction had not been addressed before, and people were struggling with no place to go for help.

Now Mel Medura has launched a special Art Therapy Room to help people express their thoughts and feelings they may not be able to say in words. Art therapy is useful for those undergoing addiction treatment, as it provides them with ways to understand and cope with their addiction. Traditional therapy focuses on helping the person practise introspection and healthy coping skills - but art therapy can be a great way for a person to explore aspects of life that cannot be explained in a conversational way,. Not only by using the inherent healing power of the creative process but also focusing on the idea that art can be a means of symbolic communication. This nonverbal process expands the ways a person can convey ideas and emotions, while providing an opportunity to explore, understand, and resolve issues in a person’s life that he may not feel comfortable talking about in a regular conversation.

“Initially, we are concentrating on painting, drawing, colouring and writing but will also soon introduce clay, crafts and music” mused the Honorary Director of Mel Medura -Jomo.

The Honorary Consultant of Mel Medura is Dr. Shamil Wanigaratne. The Art Therapy unit will be supervised by Shimali Perera (née Goonetilleke)- a graduate in Art Therapy, Lasalle College of the Arts, Singapore, and a Registered Art Therapist of ANZACATA (Australian, New Zealand, And Asian Creative Arts Therapies Association).

The Mel Medura service (which is free of charge) delivers motivation to make lifestyle changes as the road to recovery becomes more rewarding than alcohol or drug use. Emphasis is on respect, focus is on strengths, the importance of personal choice, and self-determination of goals, all of which are crucial for the person struggling with misuse of AOD. Daycare sessions are also arranged to assist the user through recovery, help prevent relapse and for family members to help minimize the discomfort suffered by them.

Mel Medura is a free service to the community at 60 Horton Place, Colombo 7. Telephone: 269 4665, 269 3460. E-mail: [email protected]. Open 8.30-4.30 Monday to Saturday.