american addiction centers photo
We’re here to help 24/7!
American Addiction Centers Helpline Information
  • Home
  • blog
  • its all about the color painting your way into recovery

It’s All About the Color: Painting Your Way Into Recovery

Table of Contents

Have you ever wondered why a box of crayons and a coloring book are so appealing to kids? Aside from fun cartoon characters and the artistic masterpieces on mom and dad’s fridge, research indicates the colors themselves have a lot to do with it.

The creative release of art therapy also provides some much-needed relief for people in rehab. It’s not a new idea; since the 1950’s, art therapy has been used to treat substance abuse disorders. It involves drawing, painting, creating sculptures, or any other creative art. The idea is to express ourselves through this non-verbal method when other ways are too difficult. We use our imaginations and allow our feelings to be expressed through our artwork.

The Purpose Under the Paint

In a treatment setting, art therapy includes several of the following activities:

  • Incident Drawings: Draw something that happened while you were using substances.
  • Stress Painting: Paint while you’re stressed or anxious to relieve your feelings.
  • Art Journal: Record daily thoughts, using illustrations to help express them.
  • Sculpting: Exert pent-up physical energy and stress by expressing yourself by what you shape.
  • Interpretation/Contemplation: Either on your own or with a therapist, examine your creation and discuss the potential meaning behind your artwork.

More Color, Please!

What colors are best for coping with addiction? Here’s an overview of the top choices:


  • Green encourages balance, harmony, self-acceptance, compassion for others, renewal and personal development.
  • This color is good for dealing with stress, anxiety, self-pity and confusion.


  • Yellow is uplifting and cleansing. It promotes self-respect, self-confidence and self-control. It is mentally stimulating and encourages reason and contentment.
  • Yellow is helpful for depression, fatigue, negativity and lack of confidence. Avoid this color if struggling with insomnia.


  • This color is calming, healing and cleansing. It encourages sharing, friendship and resilience.
  • Turquoise is good for dealing with stress, anxiety and anger.


  • Blue promotes peace, relaxation and slowing down. It encourages honesty, self-expression and creativity.
  • This shade is helpful for insomnia, stress, anger and over-excitement.


  • Magenta helps us let go of the past or anxiety-producing thoughts.
  • Magenta is good for reducing aggression.


  • Purple promotes imagination, empathy, self-respect and sense of belonging.
  • This color is helpful for stress, anxiety, obsessions, low self-esteem and severe depression.


  • Pink encourages calm, compassion, nurturing, affection and clarity of thought.
  • Pink is good for difficult relationships, anger, insomnia and over-sensitivity.


Additional Reading: What You Need to Know About Drama Therapy

Image Source: iStock