There are numerous ways of achieving recovery from substance abuse, and the holistic approach is becoming increasingly popular. Among the therapies available to people on holistic recovery programs is adventure therapy, which dates back to the 1950s. Originally formed as a way of teaching young people skills for self-reliance and discipline, the first time adventure therapy was used in an inpatient and addiction treatment context was in 1962 when the Outward Bound program was founded.
The goal and objective of alcohol and drug holistic therapy is to address emotional and behavioral issues that are connected to substance abuse or other symptoms of mental illness. In the years adventure therapy has been used in holistic recovery centers, it has been shown to be highly effective in helping people achieve long-term sobriety. The key focus of adventure therapy is to:
- Build self-esteem
- Improve self-perception
- Increase self-awareness
Adventure Therapy Helps to Heal Emotional Wounds
Adventure therapy offers inpatient substance abuse rehab patients nature-based experiences that take them outside of their comfort zone. This type of holistic therapy removes people from the environment they associate with substance abuse and immerses them in challenging situations where they have to think on their feet. This provides individuals with a clear path to facing their emotional demons and challenging them head-on.
Due to the fact adventure therapy has been used in juvenile rehabilitation for many decades; there are studies to support its effectiveness as a holistic therapy. One such study involving 109 young people on a 21-day long wilderness exercise revealed that 41% learned transferable skills that improved their lives considerably through increased motivation and self-confidence. These are skills that are vital for people in holistic recovery centers to learn in order to protect their sobriety and achieve long-term sobriety.
One of the key benefits of adventure therapy is that it removes the individual from their familiar environment so that they are not in danger of being influenced by enabling people or places. Many people struggling with substance abuse find themselves distanced from the people who really care for them as they become more involved in addictive behavior. This leaves them even more vulnerable to negative influences and it is often vital to remove them from those people and places in order to recover from the illness.
Replacing Negative Attitudes with Positive Beliefs
One of the key benefits of adventure therapy is that it provides participants with the tools for self-exploration. Being placed in unfamiliar situations where the key to survivals lies in making the right choices often leads to people discovering strengths – and weaknesses – they were not aware they had. In addition to improving self-reliance, adventure therapy also garners trust in others by working together as a team. In this way, individuals are able to make more positive connections with others while creating a healthier mindset in the process.
One of the classic characteristics of addiction is that a person will continue to use drugs or alcohol even when it is devastating their lives. This compulsion to use substances goes beyond a conscious decision to use substances and is often so overwhelming that it keeps people locked in addictive patterns.
Adventure therapy breaks negative cycles by removing the person from everything they have become familiar with and placing them in situations beyond their comfort zone. This challenges people to rethink the way they view themselves and to recognize the strengths they have that will help them overcome addiction.
In many ways, addictive behavior is the result of conditioning as a person uses drugs or alcohol repeatedly and in increasing amounts. Adventure therapy helps to “rewire” people from this conditioned abuse and empowers them to develop healthier responses to negative stimulus in recovery.
What Is Adventure Therapy?
Adventure therapy provides outdoor experiences involving different types of adventure. Activities generally include the following:
- Obstacle courses
- Rock climbing
- Cooperative games
Adventure therapy is intended to create situations for participants that encourage them to take calculated risks. This allows individuals to explore personal issues in an environment that is safe, supportive and under the guidance of an experienced adventure therapist. Like other types of experiential therapies, adventure therapy helps participants to develop a skill set that is extremely effective in promoting long-term recovery.
In many respects, adventure therapy is similar to cognitive behavioral therapy but with activities replacing discussion. Through completing the challenges of adventure therapy, participants are able to consciously adapt their behaviors to help them succeed. These skills are easy to transfer into daily life to deal with stressors and triggers for substance abuse in more positive ways.
Teamwork is an essential component of adventure therapy and encourages individuals in holistic recovery centers to form trust-based relationships with others as they work together to achieve a common goal. This mutual support is invaluable in a recovery setting and adventure therapy sets a solid foundation for people to go on to develop healthy relationships without drugs or alcohol.