Three Benefits of Adventure Therapy in Recovery

benefits of adventure therapy in recovery

Recovery from addiction takes more than just healing the body. Because addiction affects every part of your life–your physical health, emotional wellbeing, community, and more–it is important that your addiction recovery includes care for your whole self. 

For decades, people have been examining the benefits of nature and outdoor recreation for people’s mental and physical wellbeing. It is well understood that exercise is good for the body and mind. But what about simply spending time in nature?

Research suggests that simply taking time to enjoy the natural world can have a great impact on people’s mental and physical health.[1] This is true for everyone, but the impact can be even greater for people in recovery from addiction. This is why some treatment programs are beginning to use holistic elements like adventure therapy in recovery programs. 

Adventure therapy is an important–and enjoyable–part of the treatment programs offered at Moving Mountains Recovery. Understanding the benefits of adventure therapy in recovery can help you decide if an adventure-based recovery program is right for you.

Using Adventure Therapy in Recovery

If you choose to seek holistic addiction treatment, adventure therapy might be part of your treatment plan. In some treatment plans, adventure therapy is offered in a group setting. Individual, group, or family therapy sessions can take place during outdoor recreation, or they may be used alongside evidence-based therapies as part of the treatment schedule.

Adventure therapy activities may include:

  • Hiking
  • Rock-climbing
  • Kayaking
  • Swimming in natural bodies of water
  • Paddleboarding
  • Biking
  • Skiing
  • Rafting
  • Exploring caves

Adventure therapy is offered in a variety of levels and many settings. You do not need to be experienced in outdoor adventures to get the benefits of adventure therapy. Many people try several activities before finding one that sparks their interest. 

Whether you are an avid hiker and camper or you haven’t spent any time outdoors, adventure therapy can be a valuable–and energizing–part of your addiction recovery. 

Three Benefits of Adventure Therapy in Recovery

Being active in the great outdoors can be good for anyone. The range of adventure activities and settings make it possible for anyone, anywhere to find their own outdoor adventure. 

The benefits of adventure therapy in recovery can be especially profound. Finding outdoor adventures can meet the unique needs of people in recovery. 

Physical Benefits of Adventure Therapy

The benefits of exercise are well-known: more energy, a healthier body composition, lowered blood pressure, and a healthier heart tops the list. All of this is true when people participate in adventure therapy in recovery, but some additional benefits are unique to this group.

First, the exercise people get during adventure therapy activities can improve blood flow to their muscles and brain. It is believed that exercise can repair some of the brain damage that can occur during heavy drug and alcohol use. It can also help the body heal after long periods of inactivity.

Exercise can also help people’s lung function improve, which can be beneficial after using drugs that harm the lungs. Breathing the refreshing, energizing outdoor air can be one of the benefits of adventure therapy.[2]

Outdoor adventure activities can help people with flexibility and strength. It can improve physical and emotional wellbeing.

Emotional Benefits of Adventure Therapy

Being active in nature is believed to have many benefits for people’s mental health. Regularly spending time outdoors has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression.[3] People who engage in adventure therapy in recovery have lower rates of relapse. This effect is thought to be a result of their improved ability to cope with stress and increased feelings of self-worth.

One of the challenges of life in recovery is finding new, healthy ways to spend your time and energy. Engaging in adventure therapy gives people challenges to overcome and the chance to succeed in something new. 

Another benefit? All that exercise, fresh air, and lowered stress can lead to serious improvements in people’s sleep–something most people could use.

Social Benefits of Adventure Therapy

Finding a new social group can be one of the biggest challenges in recovery. One of the benefits of adventure therapy is that it can lead to meeting new people. Many people in recovery connect with new friends by participating in outdoor recreation.

Both during treatment and afterward, it is important to make connections with supportive people. Joining–or starting–an outdoor recreation group might just be an important part of your recovery. 

If you are in recovery or love someone who lives with addiction, spending time in adventure therapy activities might be an important part of your success story. 

Find Out More About Using Adventure Therapy in Recovery at Moving Mountains Recovery

At Moving Mountains Recovery, we believe that anyone can recover from addiction if they get the right support and treatment. We offer holistic substance abuse treatment programs that are designed to empower people and nurture the whole person.

If you or someone you love is living with addiction, you are not alone. Please reach out to our compassionate staff for information about getting started today. 

References:

  1. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2020/04/nurtured-nature
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8150931/
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0149718915300094
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