Dealing with addiction is no walk in the park. Constant cravings and unpleasant emotions like anger, paranoia and sadness become the norm, dominating your life and causing your relationships to suffer. Still, it’s easy to ignore the damage and find comfort at the bottom of a bottle (or baggie), despite the ongoing harm it causes. Unfortunately, this leaves you trapped in a deadly cycle and makes it seem like there’s no way out.
Even when getting sober seems impossible, we’ve seen it happen with the right approach. But that means going above and beyond the basics with a personalized approach that addresses your unique needs and goals. At Choice House, we use the healing power of nature itself to augment our high-quality treatment plans. Although not everyone takes advantage of this powerful modality, studies have shown that nature is a force to be reckoned with in addiction and mental health recovery, especially when offered in the form of adventure or outdoor therapies.
Being Outdoors Helps to Regulate Mood
At Choice House, the Rocky Mountains are right in our backyard, giving us ample opportunity to get outside, stay active and enjoy the scenery. We’ve seen firsthand the healing power of nature for men in recovery, so outdoor therapy has become a key component of our treatment programming to help men heal what’s on the inside by getting outside.
While a little fresh air is good for everyone, research shows that it’s particularly beneficial for those struggling with addiction. Spending time outside can regulate mood and help individuals process the difficult emotions that come up during treatment, such as fear, stress, anger and loneliness. It can also alleviate the symptoms of mental illness and withdrawal by restoring balance in the brain and increasing the production of feel-good hormones like dopamine and serotonin. This means more stability, focus and calm for holistic healing.
In fact, outdoor therapy is so effective that many experts now recommend using it alongside traditional modalities such as psychotherapy and medication. When used correctly, it offers a deeper, more therapeutic experience that promotes positive changes in behavior and allows individuals to see things from a different perspective. Outdoor therapy at Choice House is purpose-driven and paired with fun activities like hiking, fishing and skiing to further boost these benefits and help clients build a stable foundation for lasting recovery.
Adventure Therapy Fosters Connection
Adventure therapy takes outdoor therapy to the next level. While spending time outside is proven to deliver a number of health benefits, the inclusion of fun and challenging activities helps individuals build confidence, improve their self-esteem and learn new skills. It also promotes teamwork and allows clients to form strong bonds that last a lifetime.
At Choice House, adventure and outdoor therapy include low-key activities like fishing or hiking for moments of quiet contemplation, but it also involves physically challenging pursuits that are more rewarding. Colorado has something different to offer each season, so you might find us kayaking, skiing, snowboarding or rock climbing, depending on the time of year. We also engage in friendly competition with games such as disc golf, kickball and cornhole.
Regardless of the specific activity, clients who participate in adventure therapy have meaningful experiences that allow them to work through challenges, build resilience and learn how to manage stress. Doing so also helps them feel reinvigorated and connect with themselves and others in new and exciting ways. Studies have found that these effects deliver both short and long-term benefits that greatly improve treatment outcomes for individuals of all ages struggling with addiction or mental illness.
Animals Provide a Calming Presence
There’s another aspect of nature that can be utilized to help promote a successful recovery: the calming presence of animals. While not as common as outdoor or adventure therapy, animal-assisted therapy is gaining popularity due to its positive effects on our physical, mental and emotional well-being.
People and animals have always shared a special bond. We’ve worked alongside them for centuries and invited them into our homes as our friends, pets and companions. Although we rely on them for many things, our relationship is more than one of mutual survival. Research shows that simply being around animals and interacting with them helps us feel more relaxed, calm and focused. It also reduces stress and anxiety. Choice House gives clients the opportunity to visit the Song of the Wolf Healing Center to build off these benefits, a local non-profit for abused, unwanted and confiscated wolf-dog hybrids. Here, visitors have a safe, authentic experience that allows them to connect with the animals in a powerful way.
We’ve found that clients who participate in animal-assisted therapy and other activities at the sanctuary find it easier to break through the walls that keep them stuck in their addiction. The wolves provide a sense of comfort and help individuals face difficult emotions like fear and self-doubt that often come up during treatment. They also teach clients how to be more open, honest and vulnerable in their recovery. For many, this acts as a catalyst for positive transformations that renew one’s commitment to a sober, healthy lifestyle.
Other Therapeutic Modalities
There’s no such thing as a “standard” treatment plan when it comes to addiction or mental illness. What works well for one person may not for another. That’s why Choice House offers a variety of therapeutic options that can be tailored to fit each individual’s needs, goals and expectations. Along with outdoor and adventure therapy, we also utilize the following to ensure a well-rounded and individualized approach to recovery:
- Experiential and psychodrama therapy
- Proven psychotherapies
- Somatic therapy
- Family program
- Mental health treatment
- Group-based therapy and activities
- Meditation, yoga and mindfulness
- Intervention through art
- Eye movement reprocessing and desensitization (EMDR) therapy
- Life-skills training and development
- Relapse prevention
Each of these techniques is designed to support individuals as they heal from addiction and navigate the recovery process. We also provide dual diagnosis treatment to address mental health concerns that could be contributing to behavioral or substance abuse issues.
There’s more to recovery than 12-step meetings and relapse prevention. While these are important to helping individuals get sober, a more holistic approach is often needed to inspire deep and lasting changes that come from within. At Choice House, we incorporate outdoor and adventure therapy into our treatment programming to give our clients the opportunity to experience the excitement, hope and healing that can be found in nature. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, our admissions team is standing by. You can get in touch by calling 303-578-4978 or completing our online contact form.