What is Nature Therapy and How Does it Benefit Addiction Recovery?

what is nature therapy and how does it benefit addiction recovery

Addiction can impact every part of a person, from their mental and physical health to their relationships and communities. Overcoming addiction requires commitment, patience, and support. Many people with addiction require professional treatment to stop using drugs or alcohol and live a healthy, sober lifestyle.

Since addiction is a complex condition that affects every part of a person, people with addiction require comprehensive, compassionate treatment to address addiction’s physical, behavioral, and emotional aspects. Detox alone isn’t enough to give people the skills to overcome addiction. Instead, people must identify and heal the causes of their addiction and learn skills to manage symptoms without using substances.

Nature therapy can be a healing, empowering part of a comprehensive addiction treatment program. Enjoying nature and outdoor activities during treatment can help people uncover hidden strengths and improve self-confidence.

Learn more about the benefits of nature therapy in addiction treatment by reaching out to the Moving Mountains Recovery specialists today.

What is Nature Therapy?

Nature therapy is sometimes called ecotherapy, green therapy, or Earth-centered therapy. This holistic therapy centers on the idea that people are meant to live their lives in connection and harmony with the natural world. Nature therapy is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle because it provides the opportunity to immerse yourself in the outdoors and sustain a meaningful connection with Mother Nature.

Nature therapy is a simple but powerful tool that can be used at any stage of addiction recovery. It provides a new, healthy way to cope with stress and challenges and can counteract some of the physical and emotional effects of substance abuse and addiction.

Using nature therapy in addiction treatment often includes simply spending more time outdoors and participating in outdoor recreation of all kinds. People may read, relax, or eat outdoors. Or, they may spend time immersed in nature by hiking, camping, kayaking, swimming outdoors, and other outdoor activities.

Nature therapy provides relief and reenergizing for people in addiction recovery and can give people a healthy coping tool to use throughout their recovery journey.

Using Nature Therapy in Addiction Treatment

Many people begin their recovery journey in a medically-supported drug and alcohol detox program. In detox, medical and support staff treat patients’ withdrawal symptoms.

Substance abuse treatment programs tailor plans to meet each person’s unique needs and goals. Comprehensive treatment programs combine evidence-based and holistic treatments to help people identify the roots of their addiction and learn skills to avoid relapse for life. Treatment plans typically include:

  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Medications
  • Mental health treatment
  • Education
  • Holistic therapies, including nature therapy, nutrition support, massage, and other healing practices

Some examples of nature therapy in addiction treatment include:

  • Exercising in nature–walking around the neighborhood, hiking in local parks, or exploring nearby nature preserves
  • Adventure therapy
  • Gardening
  • Riding horses, caring for pets, or feeding birds in a natural setting
  • Outdoor meditation, exercise, or yoga classes
  • Swimming in outdoor pools or natural bodies of water

If you aren’t able to spend a lot of time in nature, you can take steps to incorporate nature therapy and other outdoor activities into your daily life and recovery. Some simple things you can do include:

  • Growing plants, herbs, or vegetables indoors
  • Listening to nature sounds–recorded or through an open window
  • Observing nature around you–noticing the color of the sky, the air temperature, the birds you hear, signs of seasons changing, etc.
  • Draw, sketch, paint, or write about nature
  • Decorate with natural elements, including nature photographs and artwork or natural materials and indoor plants

After finishing a treatment program, people must stay engaged in their recovery for life to avoid relapse. People can continue enjoying nature therapy’s many benefits as part of a comprehensive aftercare plan.

What are the Benefits of Nature Therapy in Addiction Recovery?

Research suggests that deepening your relationship with the natural world can improve your physical and mental health in many ways.[1,2] One of the primary goals of addiction treatment is to help people learn the skills they’ll need to avoid relapses for the rest of their lives. For many, this means learning new, healthy ways of coping with stress and challenges.

Nature therapy can be a powerful tool in helping people reduce stress and improve self-esteem. Some of the other benefits of using nature therapy in addiction treatment include the following:

  • Building physical strength and endurance
  • Gaining a sense of balance and overall well-being
  • Boost social skills and form new relationships
  • Find new purpose and meaning in life after addiction
  • Reduce physical and emotional stress

Using nature therapy in addiction recovery and after may significantly improve all aspects of a person’s life. It can be a valuable tool in managing the physical and emotional discomfort of withdrawal and recovery. It can provide an empowering outlet for people for the rest of their lives. Nature therapy can be adapted to meet anyone’s needs and goals, making it the perfect addition to any comprehensive addiction treatment plan.

Find Help Today

At Moving Mountains Recovery, we’ve witnessed the incredible transformative effect outdoor-based therapy can have on adults and teens recovering from drug use. Creating those opportunities for personal growth begins with removing ourselves from our comfort zone, and there are no better means of doing that than the great outdoors.

To further explore the benefits of nature or adventure therapy in substance abuse treatment or to talk to one of our admission counselors, reach out to the Moving Mountains specialists today.


  1. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2020/04/nurtured-nature
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8125471/
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