• Staff Writer

How Does Adventure Therapy Benefit Addiction Recovery?

Updated: Aug 17


Human existence is grounded in nature. With that being said, there is no question that nature can do a number on our mental and physical health. Experiencing nature can be as simple as stepping outside. Being outside has proven to be beneficial for nearly all of our internal body systems. If simply being outside can have such a profound effect on our wellness, can you imagine the impact it can have on one's treatment and recovery?

Substance use disorder (SUD) is chronic and compulsive. It wreaks havoc on an individual's sense of self, sense of worth, sense of community, and sense of purpose. While traditional psychotherapy treatments have been proven to be effective in treating substance use and related disorders, oftentimes an individual needs additional treatment opportunities to increase overall treatment motivation and engagement. As the outdoors offers an incredible opportunity for healing, adventure therapy must be recognized as an invaluable treatment option.


What Is Adventure Therapy?


Adventure therapy is a unique and engaging form of psychotherapy that uses challenging adventure activities to complement the traditional treatment process. Adventure therapy combines nature, exercise, and community to create a trifecta of quality healing. The outcomes of adventure therapy stretch far beyond reducing substance use cravings and include, but are not limited to, improving:

  • Mental health

  • Physical health

  • Social health

  • Spiritual health

  • Emotional health

Adventure therapy is highly effective, especially when the therapist is actively working with the participants to stimulate new skills and perspectives. Activities used in adventure therapy include, but are not limited to:

  • Kayaking

  • Rock climbing

  • Team-building initiatives

  • Paddleboarding

  • Swimming

  • Camping

  • Rafting

  • Canoeing

  • Hiking

Outside Adventure Begins Inside You


Stepping outside of one’s comfort zone isn't always easy. Isn’t that the idea? After months or years of chronic substance use, heading outside for a healthy adventure can be recognized as a particularly foreign activity. After all, substance use often leads to isolation and a loss of pleasure for things once found enjoyable. However, an adventure might be just what an individual needs to motivate their healing process.

Recognizing one's need for treatment and recovery can take a great deal of time. However, once an individual is ready to seek treatment and recovery, they must be open to learning how to trust the process. They may be motivated to seek treatment so that they can experience a new appreciation for life. Nature and adventure give individuals the opportunity to think, appreciate, and just “be,” all without the compulsive need to use alcohol or other drugs.

While willfully attending adventure therapy, this serenity becomes integrated on an individual level as well as a group or team level. Which may seem foreign to a client. They become challenged and are encouraged to create solutions through healthy channels and communication while being supported by professionals, therapists, and peers.


When the Wilderness Calls


Wilderness treatment programs offer troubled teens and adolescents an opportunity to be in nature for a duration of time, camping in the outdoors, pitching their own tent, cooking their own meals, and lugging a backpack. It teaches structure, responsibility, and life skills while being evaluated and treated in a natural environment. The results can be amazing.


Key Benefits to Wilderness Therapy


There are several notable benefits that adventure therapy can have on one's treatment and recovery. These benefits include:


Experiencing Treatment in a Comfortable Atmosphere


Younger clients, and perhaps ones that are more anti-social, may respond more effectively to treatment that is conducted in a natural setting, such as one through a wilderness program. Adventure therapy is still highly structured; however, there is more opportunity for exploration of the self through community interaction. It is safe to say there is more freedom simply by default of being out in nature.


Making Traditional Treatment More Effective


No one wants to go through the challenges and struggles of treatment. However, doing so can make one physically, mentally, and emotionally stronger. For individuals with dual diagnoses, treatment can seem even more daunting. Adventure therapy complements the traditional psychotherapy process by using hands-on activities and challenges to stimulate the mind. During adventure therapy, a therapist can empower a client to speak about or explore emotions more freely. Adventure therapy prompts transparency, where a therapist can hone in on a client's behavior, trauma, and triggers while engaging in exciting activities.

  • Nature is an amazing therapist. - Time and time again, nature is recognized as a profound healer. Taking time to immerse oneself in nature with stillness and mindfulness can decrease intrusive thoughts, as well as anxiety, depression, and stress. A

Adventure therapy is a unique and exciting form of psychotherapy that encourages engagement in outdoor adventure opportunities. This form of therapy combines nature, therapy, and community to create a trifecta of healing. At California Care Detox & Treatment, we value integrity and wellness as well as a healthy mind, body and spirit. We offer customized care through the use of Southern California's abundant sunshine and outdoor recreational activites. Our detox program and treatment center is near the ocean, which offers various forms of exercise and relaxation. When it comes to receiving treatment and recovery from mental health and substance use, it’s only necessary that we offer amazing adventure and outdoor therapy opportunities for our clients. While our clients are receiving treatment, we encourage involvement in group therapy programs, including art therapy and more. To learn more about our treatment programs and other resources, call us today at (949) 281-0632.

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