How Adventure Therapy Helps in Early Sobriety

There are countless forms of therapy that are utilized in the treatment of addiction. From traditional therapies such as group and individual therapy to more spiritual therapies like holistic therapy and mindfulness practices, individuals in need of recovery services can rest assured that there is at least one form of therapy that is perfectly suited for them. However, one of the most effective types of therapy available is not as widely discussed as others, nor is it a common staple in the majority of treatment centers throughout the country.

Adventure therapy, sometimes also referred to as wilderness therapy, gets individuals recovering from substance use disorders connected to the outdoors in ways that are cathartic and capable of producing positive treatment outcomes. For many, adventure therapy is most beneficial during the very beginning stages of their sobriety, specifically because of how vulnerable they can be at this time. However, by engaging in adventure therapy, not only can individuals in early recovery obtain extra support at this time, but they can also benefit from the many positive effects that adventure therapy can produce.

What is Going on in Early Sobriety?

When someone is newly sober, he or she is usually very sensitive emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally. While he or she has put work into developing this sobriety, it does not mean that he or she is “all better” and can go back to what he or she was doing before getting treatment. Instead, he or she can be in a mindset where he or she does not know what to do next. He or she might still feel slightly unconfident or untrustworthy, and that is completely acceptable. It is normal for individuals to feel this way right when they are getting sober.

On the other hand, others can feel invincible and as if getting sober was one of the easiest things they have done. They might even feel like they can go back to their lives right away without missing a beat. However, those feelings of grandiosity often fade quickly, leaving an individual feeling just as vulnerable and raw as some others who are recovering.

Because of the sliding scale of emotions that occurs during early sobriety, there is great benefit in incorporating adventure therapy into one’s treatment plan at this time.

How Does Adventure Therapy Help?

When addicted to drugs and/or alcohol, individuals can easily lose themselves in the shuffle. In fact, by the time they get sober, they might even feel like they do not know who they are anymore. Feeling that way can be jarring and extremely upsetting. However, when individuals in early recovery engage in adventure therapy, they can start to restore themselves to the person they want to be, rather than the person they used to be.

Adventure therapy offers activities including, however, are not limited to, the following:

  • Hiking
  • Backpacking
  • Ropes courses
  • Camping
  • Rock climbing
  • Whitewater rafting
  • Canoeing
  • Ziplining

Each one of these activities provides their own personal benefits for those in early recovery, however, there are a number of common benefits that each one of them brings to the table.

two girls doing adventure therapy

Developing self-confidence

When involved in something like white water rafting or ropes courses, most people do not have the opportunity to doubt themselves for too long. This is because these activities happen fast, which encourages individuals to let go of any doubt and go forward with the exercise. When they finish the exercise, they realize that they were able to not only take the plunge and go through with it but that they got themselves through to the other side. That sense of reward works to help build strong self-esteem.

Encouraging self-awareness

Hiking and camping are two types of adventure therapy that encourage the development of self-awareness. Those who are in early recovery are likely not in tune with themselves just yet. So, for example, when participating in hiking, individuals not only get the chance to learn about themselves from a physical aspect (e.g. how far they can push themselves when it comes to hiking up mountains) as well as from a psychological aspect. When camping, for instance, after dinner has been cleared and individuals are sitting around the campfire, someone can talk about the ways in which he or she was challenged mentally, or how he or she became aware of something about themselves in which they did not realize before.

Improving communication

Many forms of adventure therapy, such as white water rafting and canoeing, require a lot of communication in order to be successful in completing the activity. If communication between individuals is not effective, their experience on the water will go poorly. However, if they can communicate properly, they should be able to complete the exercise. This activity serves as a metaphor for everyday life situations. The better one’s communication is, the more successful his or her life will be.

Understanding the importance of support

In all adventure therapy exercises, individuals are encouraged to support one another. As the exercises are occurring, individuals can begin to see and feel just how much support can help themselves and those around him or her. The feeling that can come from being encouraged and rooted for can be so wonderful that it inspires individuals to continue to find and foster supportive relationships in their lives. It can also serve as motivation to cut ties with those who are toxic and who have the potential to cause an individual to go backward in his or her recovery.

Get Help

If you are struggling with addiction, it is never too late to get help. We understand just how complex this disease is, and we are ready, willing, and able to help you make the decisions needed to help you obtain sobriety and achieve a life of sobriety.

Do not wait one more day to reach out to us. You deserve the type of treatment that will not only get you sober but will also help you rebuild yourself from the inside out. Call us now.

The Addiction Blog