Adventure Therapy & Addiction Treatment

Adventure therapy offers a number of different options and benefits to recovering individuals. This program is also especially helpful for recovering teens and young adults; but no matter what your age, you could potentially find help in one of these nontraditional, holistic programs.

What Is Adventure Therapy?

Adventure Therapy - 7 People on a whitewater raft moving away from the camera going down a river with small rapids.Adventure therapy is a type of treatment program that places patients in the great outdoors as part of a recovery plan. These programs usually involve adventurous activities that ask patients to step out of their comfort zones and try something new. Adventure therapy is not always easy on patients, but it can be incredibly effective.

Though considered holistic in nature, it is not a new concept, nor is it missing the backing of long-term research. Many different studies have been conducted on the evidence-based benefits of adventure therapy, finding the program can be immensely helpful for certain individuals. Particularly, according to a study conducted in 2017, which was published in the medical journal Frontiers in Public Health, adventure therapy has been found to be helpful to those with long-term mental illnesses and/or chronic diseases.

In most cases, adventure therapy focuses specifically on living outdoors, which makes it very different from traditional rehab centers. While these facilities might provide patients with a chance to get back to nature in the form of a group walk or hike, this type of treatment imparts a oneness with nature that these other programs do not offer.

You can begin your recovery from addiction in an adventure therapy program. However, it is important to also consider your general health, along with your needs for treatment before choosing one of these options. If you believe you will be able to handle the criteria associated with these programs, it could be a beneficial option for your recovery.

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Adventure Therapy Programs

Not all adventure therapy programs are alike. Certain programs may offer a different location, length of stay, and other options. However, choosing the one that is right for you shouldn’t be difficult.

These programs can take place in a variety of settings, whether it be in the forest, mountains, beach, and almost anywhere else where there are natural surroundings.

It is best to choose an option with which you will feel comfortable, although comfort isn’t always the name of the game with adventure therapy. Still, don’t choose a mountain-based program if you are terrified of heights.

These programs usually last longer than traditional treatment programs, often 3 to 6 months, perhaps even a year if needed. This is because these programs take time to build strength and character, and patients must become involved in both traditional therapy as well as the holistic aspects of adventure therapy.

You can find out what a particular program offers if you choose to seek out more about it. Don’t hesitate to ask questions, and make sure you are fully informed about what a program offers before choosing it.

Adventure therapy programs can provide a number of personalized options, including activities that will suit your long-term recovery.

Adventure Therapy Activities

Different types of therapies offer different types of activities. For example, a program that is in a wooded area will often offer activities that are associated with this atmosphere, such as hiking, mountain biking, etc. A program set in a beachside area, however, may provide guests with the option to surf, swim, etc. With that said, camping is considered to be the most basic type of this program, and patients often camp outside and perform other outdoor activities and challenges.

The most common requirements include the following:

  • Most activities require patients to be in generally good physical health.
  • There is often a demand that patients work hard as part of the therapy program.
  • In most cases, cooperation is also an important part of adventure therapy, as people in recovery often need to learn to work with and trust others.

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Because there are so many different options for adventure therapy programs, the activities they provide could be endless. You may be more interested in one type of activity than another, so always consider which options will be best for you. 

Adventure Therapy Benefits

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, adventure-based therapy is a specialized group program. Like all forms of rehab, it isn’t effective for every individual, but it does have a number of benefits.

1. Dealing with Emotions

Adolescents and young adults often benefit from this type of therapy because it does not ask them to open up in a traditional sphere. Instead, it gives them different ways of dealing with their emotions, as well as non-traditional options for fighting issues like cravings, triggers, and stress.

2. Dealing with Stress

Adventure therapy helps people learn to deal with stress in a safe environment. While day-to-day life can seem overwhelming, handling oneself during a mountain climbing adventure or a surf lesson can give one perspective on daily stressors. In addition, it can teach new coping skills.

3. Exercise

Exercise has traditionally played a role in recovery as it helps the body heal and become stronger. These programs channel that healing into daily activities in nature, which has also been shown to benefit recovery.

These programs don’t just offer adventure activities. Talk therapy and other common options for recovery usually occur as well, but they might happen between counselors and patients while preparing a meal or talking around a campfire. This is why adventure therapy is one of the most successful programs that combines traditional and holistic therapy modalities for recovering addicts.

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