The 3 Powerful Principles of Adventure Therapy

A lot goes into recovery. It is a process of rediscovering yourself and growing in positive directions. One way to do this is to go out into the world. GateHouse Treatment offers adventure therapy as part of our complete plan to tackle every facet of addiction. As the name implies, we offer the opportunity to get out and have an adventure. The encouraging effects of being in nature, having fun in the wilderness, and pushing past your boundaries can bring an unparalleled sense of fulfillment. Learning new skills, mastering new hobbies, and feeling connected to nature help pass the time and curb the pangs of addiction.

At GateHouse Treatment, we know that addiction is more than a set of symptoms and behaviors. It’s a medical condition that touches on every facet of your life until it has consumed or replaced what used to bring you joy, which is why when it comes to therapy, you can’t just treat the symptoms but the person. Holistic wellness isn’t as simple as getting some medication and attending meetings; it involves lifestyle changes that help you remember that life is worth living.

1. The Social Principle of Adventure Therapy

The philosophy behind adventure therapy is that treatment is more impactful when personalized. Group or individual therapy is not everyone’s comfort zone. There are barriers to opening up for the first time in a new environment, and few feel truly comfortable sharing aspects of their life that bring them shame or anxiety. In these cases, it becomes crucial to reach a level of relaxation with your peers and the program while increasing overall motivation levels to improve.

A feeling of community is something adventure therapy can accomplish. Challenging group activities outside the traditional therapy settings build strong bonds among those seeking recovery. Getting out there and tackling challenges together builds friendships. This camaraderie extends past outdoor sports and into classroom settings as those seeking recovery push and support each other on the road to wellness.

Addiction can be very lonely, but seeking recovery is a collaborative effort. There’s a whole range of behaviors that adventure therapy helps spur. Among them are asking peers for help, pushing others past a boundary, and relying on others. In the scientific field, this is called experiential education and reinforces behaviors such as:

  • Increased social interaction
  • Mutual aid
  • Truthfulness
  • Help-seeking

Adventure therapy can remind us of straightforward lessons in life that drugs make us forget. If you can’t get over a course, you can’t lie because it will still be there. These excursions force participants to rely on the emotional or physical support of others to tackle problems. These healthy behaviors are habit-forming, contagious in a group, and soon noticed in every aspect of your life in recovery.

2. The Self-Esteem Principle of Adventure Therapy

The second principle of adventure therapy focuses on self-esteem. One of the biggest challenges to staying sober is answering the age-old question of how to pass the time now that drugs are off the table. Boredom, lack of drive, and feeling like your world has narrowed are all triggers for falling off the wagon. Adventure therapy is the perfect way to combat this loss of personal meaning.

It’s difficult to grasp for meaning or long for the rush of drugs when trying to stay afloat in a kayak downriver because the meaning is simply there. You are in control, executing a goal and getting better at it all the time. Physical activity and the great outdoors possess a pre-ordained sense of significance that one can tap into, making a person feel either like a small part of a big thing or like they are mastering themselves and their surroundings.

Recognizing your inherent worth, feeling connected to something more significant, and having the sense that your actions can make a difference are the building blocks of self-esteem. Few things can make someone feel like they are living a complete life more than having repeated, self-contained adventures. Experiencing this personal value is the idea behind adventure therapy, as you restore a part of yourself that drug use atrophies on its way to killing the body and mind.

3. The Learning Principle of Adventure Therapy

Activities offered during adventure therapy are about learning through challenges instead of learning for challenges. They teach adaptability, on-the-spot problem-solving, and other abilities that help decision-making. Some are individual, encouraging the participant to push past challenges as their peers cheer them on. Some are team-based, requiring coordination and mutual support. Here are some that GateHouse Treatment considers integral for recovery.

  • Indoor rock climbing is one of the staples of individual activities in adventure therapy. It is physically demanding and a great way to get in shape. Consistent research shows that exercise is a fantastic way to combat addiction, as the brain releases good endorphins that cause a sense of ecstasy, often called a “natural high.” Rock climbing is a sport with competitive leagues and a subculture of very dedicated climbers. It provides community and verifiable goals to meet. If you commit yourself to improving, it curbs drug taking by restructuring your day around an activity you love.
  • Kayaking is another physically demanding team activity in adventure therapy that requires accountability and coordination with peers. Going down the river fast, feeling the waves break against the boat, and avoiding rocks on the way can be an unparalleled adrenaline rush, with the entire team smiling ear to ear. Downhill tubing has a similar sense of dash and daring.
  • Rope courses are a way to challenge yourself and see significant improvements over time.
  • Paddleboarding requires balance and concentration, meaning it’s tough to think about anything else when the only thing separating you from falling is yourself.
  • Snowshoeing and hiking are more contemplative activities, giving time to breathe in nature and fresh air.
  • One of the unique experiences in adventure therapy is equine therapy. This one is not physically demanding but can be most rewarding. There’s something deeply therapeutic about working with animals. When you have something else to care for, your problems are secondary. Having another being that is reliant on you and trusts you unconditionally, especially an animal as mighty as a horse, can be one of the deepest joys felt by man. Equine adventure therapy is a proven method to reduce heart rate, blood pressure, stress, anxiety, and depression.

GateHouse Treatment and Adventure Therapy

At GateHouse Treatment, we believe in holistic treatment, meaning not just addressing the symptoms of a condition but establishing patterns of behavior that endure after therapy ends. We offer compassionate, top-of-the-line therapy for any challenge you or a loved one might face. Our care includes sober homes, partial hospitalization programs, intensive outpatient treatment, and adventure therapy to restore the joy and confidence of a drug-free you.

Start working toward a better future and contact us on our website or call 855-448-3588. We can help 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

GateHouse Treatment Editorial Staff
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