How Does Adventure Therapy Fit Into Addiction Treatment?

When most people think of addiction, they get an imagine of the most extreme devastation that the disease can cause, consisting of someone who’s homeless, malnourished, suffering from diseases like HIV or AIDS, and whose physical health couldn’t get much worse. Although this extreme deterioration has happened to countless people after they’ve become addicted to alcohol and drugs, in many instances some of the worst effects of addiction are ones that can’t readily be seen. Much like the physical and health deterioration it causes, addiction triggers a profound mental and emotional decline as substance abuse becomes the center of an addict’s life, frequently causing them to resort to extreme behaviors in their desperation to sustain a habit as unsustainable as an addiction.

Fortunately, there’s hope in the form of addiction treatment programs. Those who have become addicted can overcome chemical dependency by receiving counseling and psychotherapy, participating in group and family therapies, and benefiting from personalizing their programming with a selection of complementary and supplemental treatments. Additionally, there are a number of so-called experiential therapies that have proven to be highly effective in helping addicts to reclaim their physical and psychological health. In particular, adventure therapy is a common and increasingly popular experiential treatment that’s being incorporated into addiction recovery as it offers a number of benefits to the rehabilitation process. Therefore, the following will define adventure therapy and explain the place it holds in one’s addiction treatment curriculum.

What Exactly is Adventure Therapy?

When most people think of psychotherapy, they imagine a single patient talking about his or her childhood to a therapist. Although individual therapy is an important part of mental health and substance abuse treatments, there are many other types of psychotherapy, each of which can be extremely beneficial in certain instances. One particular psychotherapeutic modality is known as experiential therapy, which refers to therapies in which the patient is participating in activities, movements, or actions as a central part of the process; meanwhile, the professional observes and interacts with the patient in order to make mental and emotional inferences from the patient’s behaviors. While this is an unconventional form of therapy, there have been a variety of applications for forms of experiential therapy, including adventure therapy.

As suggested by its name, adventure therapy involves exploration and experiential education that usually takes place in the outdoors. In many instances, groups of patients will take wilderness expeditions while being led by professionals with therapeutic and outdoors expertise. One of the main benefits of adventure therapy is its ability to help patients develop a positive self-concept, improve their self-esteem and confidence, and even enhance their cognitive and problem-solving skills. Adventure therapy tends to be a preferred form of therapy for those who enjoy outdoor pursuits, especially those that involve wilderness and nature, camping, learning survival skills, and the challenge of subsisting off the grid and working with others.

woman hiking in mountains

Adventure Therapy for Addiction

Since it offers individuals a means of establishing a positive self-concept and improving self-esteem, there have been a number of recovery facilities to include adventure therapy into their rehabilitative programming for individuals who suffer from alcoholism and drug addiction. In fact, there are a number of reasons why adventure therapy can be even more effective than traditional “talk therapy” for some individuals. Many addicts tend to be hesitant to open up and express their thoughts, feelings, or experiences while in traditional therapy. Additionally, addicts who are beginning the recovery process are commonly distrustful of professionals as addicts frequently believe that the professionals have only an academic knowledge of addiction rather than any firsthand or practical experience. For such individuals, adventure therapy is beneficial because it allows recovering addicts to get the benefits of counseling sessions while not feeling like they’re being counseled.

Overcoming Addiction with Adventure Therapy

Adventure therapy has a very specific place in one’s recovery and addiction treatment curriculum. Specifically, adventure therapy is more a psychological treatment rather than a physical treatment. Since addicts must cease their substance abuse when they begin a treatment program, they must overcome physical dependency — including inevitable withdrawal symptomsbefore they can begin receiving other treatments, including adventure therapy. However, after progressing beyond the point of withdrawal, there are some important benefits of adventure substance abuse therapy. For instance, it encourages recovering addicts to be social with and relate to others in their expedition groups while they work on re-establishing their communication skills. It also encourages those in recovery to be more self-sufficient, helps them to become more motivated, encourages them to have meaningful experiences, allows them time to reflect on themselves and the implications of their behaviors, and instills a sense of independence and self-sufficiency, which is particularly important as one progresses into aftercare and sustained sobriety.

Recovery Hub Information Help You Live Happy & Healthy

Adventure therapy has shown to be highly beneficial as a form of mental and emotional treatment, but it’s not going to yield optimal results for everyone. However, there are many other treatments available that can address the entire spectrum of recovery needs. To learn more about adventure therapy or other forms of treatment, call Recovery Hub 888-220-4352. Our recovery specialists are available anytime, day or night, to help you or your loved one find the best, most effective program. Don’t wait — one call can be the beginning of a new life.

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