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Clients recovering from alcohol use disorder (AUD) and dual diagnosis benefit from engaging in regular outdoor activities, including adventure therapy. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “[T]he evidence of treatment outcomes across outdoor therapies is mostly positive.” In other words, individuals generally benefit from engaging in adventure therapy. West Coast Recovery Centers encourages clients to use adventure therapy as a way to heal from alcohol addiction. 

What Is Adventure Therapy?

No standard for adventure therapy exists. Each program must decide how to implement adventure therapy. According to the previously mentioned article in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “Outdoor therapies are intentional therapeutic processes that are (1) place-based, (2) feature active bodily engagement, and (3) recognize nature-human kinship.”

A few popular adventure therapy activities include: 

  • Horseback riding 
  • Boating 
  • Swimming
  • Hiking and trail walking
  • Biking
  • Gardening or foraging 
  • Skiing 
  • Skydiving 
  • Whale watching

Almost any group outdoor activity can be used for adventure therapy. However, generally, the chosen activity must involve peer engagement and group cooperation to overcome challenges or achieve goals. Individuals recovering from AUD may struggle with recognizing social cues or setting healthy boundaries. Adventure therapy uses group activities to help clients improve social skills, learn to set boundaries, and build self-confidence.

What Sets Adventure Therapy Apart From Other Forms of Therapy for Alcohol Addiction?

West Coast Recovery Centers uses personalized care plans to ensure clients have access to the types of treatment they need to heal. Adventure therapy is one therapeutic modality used to encourage personal healing and growth. Often, adventure therapy is utilized alongside other alternative therapies to provide a whole-person approach to treatment. 

Some of the features setting adventure therapy apart from other treatments for AUD include: 

  • Therapy takes place in an open and natural environment
  • Activities provide physical challenges that encourage personal growth
  • Clients gain skills through hands-on learning
  • Team building activities help clients learn to trust peers and the care team 
  • Outdoor activities and group challenges empower clients 
  • Clients can confront fears in a safe and controlled environment

According to Frontiers in Public Health, “[R]esearch shows that for at least some individuals and in at least some circumstances, [nature, eco, and adventure therapies] can improve mental health.” Adventure therapy provides clients with a change of scenery and new ways of interacting with peers who share similar life experiences. Clinicians often use adventure therapy to enhance the effectiveness of traditional talk therapy during treatment. Moreover, adventure therapy is a holistic experiential therapy used to help clients with AUD improve self-awareness and increase self-esteem. 

What Are the Benefits of Adventure Therapy for Individuals With Alcohol Addiction?

Individuals with alcohol addiction face unique challenges in recovery. For example, many people with AUD have difficulty navigating personal relationships. Furthermore, a lack of life skills and side effects of the disorder may have a profound impact on clients and their families. According to the Journal of Food and Drug Analysis, “Families may experience high rates of tension and conflict related to the [substance abuse] and problems it causes in the family.” Adventure therapy provides clients with a way to practice healthily engaging with others and building positive connections.

Some of the known health benefits of adventure therapy and regular outdoor activities include: 

  • Reduced blood pressure 
  • Improved sleep quality 
  • Reduced risk of certain diseases 
  • Increased life expectancy 
  • Improved focus and concentration 
  • Greater emotional stability 
  • Increased positivity 
  • Decreased symptoms of anxiety and depression

Engaging in group activities in nature improves overall physical and mental health. 

What Can You Expect From Adventure Therapy?

Most people have never heard of adventure therapy and may wonder what to expect. Adventure therapy is a type of psychotherapy where a therapist presents clients with an activity or challenge in an outdoor environment. The specifics depend on many factors, including conditions being treated, the number of people present, geographical location, and client preferences. Every therapy session is different yet generally involves the group working towards a common goal, requiring communication and teamwork. 

Clients do the following during adventure therapy: 

  • Communicate with peers and the care team 
  • Identify thoughts, feelings, or behaviors triggered by the activity 
  • Make connections between the activity and emotional reactions
  • Physically engage with peers to complete tasks

During the activity, clients are guided through the process of identifying connections between thoughts and behaviors. In addition, the therapist often has a theme they use to educate clients on mental health during and after the activity. 

Why Is Adventure Therapy Useful for Recovering From Alcohol Addiction?

People diagnosed with alcohol addiction benefit from being more active in the community and building healthy social relationships. West Coast Recovery Centers uses adventure therapy to empower, uplift, and engage clients. The client/peer interactions help people feel more motivated and confident about their ability to heal from AUD. 

Individuals diagnosed with alcohol use disorder may have difficulty forming healthy relationships, setting clear boundaries, resolving conflict, or engaging with others in a healthy way. Chronic alcohol abuse affects mood, behaviors, and a person’s ability to process emotions. Adventure therapy is one tool clinicians use at West Coast Recovery Centers to help clients learn the skills they need to manage their condition and cope with stressors. Most clients participate in adventure therapy to improve their ability to manage emotional responses in social situations. Adventure therapy provides clients with a safe and controlled space where they can practice the skills they learn in treatment. To discover more about our programs and services, call us today at (760) 492-6509.