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Can You Actually Treat Addiction with Adventure?

By Amethyst Recovery 09/12/16

When you weave adventure therapy into the traditional treatment methods it throws a much welcome dose of adrenaline into the mix. Here you'll find recoveryand fun.

Amethyst Recovery
Recovery--and fun.

When you weave adventure therapy into the traditional treatment methods (group sharing, reciting 12-step slogans and writing until your hand hurts), it throws a much welcome dose of adrenaline into the mix. Just ask Philadelphia native Kelly, who’s a little over 14 months sober and living happily on Florida’s Treasure Coast, with many of the women she met while in treatment for drug addiction. She partially attributes her sobriety to those gals…well, them and some deep sea fishing. That’s right, Kelly found recovery and had fun—at rehab. One doesn’t normally associate “rehab” with “fun” (except for those people who imagine it may be like a spa and then are rudely awakened upon arrival) but Kelly proved them wrong.

Resetting the Fun System

At the most basic level, adventure therapy is an actual therapeutic technique (you can legit get a Master’s in it at some universities) plus an enjoyable way to heal and break through personal barriers that might have led to substance abuse. At the same time, it’s also old school, child-like fun—you know, the kind you used to have before you discovered booze or drugs. Of course, like many people when they first quit drinking or drugging, Kelly could not wrap her head around the concept of enjoying herself in this way. “I had no idea how to have a good time without having a drink on my hand,” she admits. And yet she managed to have good times a plenty fishing, going to the beach, bowling, hitting the mini golf course and doing yoga—all adventures she experienced while receiving treatment at Amethyst Recovery Center in Port St. Lucie, Florida. But it wasn’t just the adrenaline pumping stuff that effected her. “I can’t tell you enough how much yoga had an impact on me,” Kelly gushes. “I’m in the best shape of my life; it taught me how to balance. When I’m stressed, I go to the gym—usually four to five days a week now.”

The team at Amethyst Recovery firmly believes that adventure therapy for both addiction and co-occurring disorders is crucial to setting the foundation for long-term well-being. So there’s a major focus on “green exercise” (which, for the layman, means exercise that takes place in natural environments and people like to post Facebook pictures of themselves doing while on their perfect-seeming vacations—say, surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, white water rafting, kayaking, sailing or rock climbing). As it turns out, research shows that water-related activities—and just being near the water, really—are particularly therapeutic and mood-boosting (perhaps that’s why Florida’s coastal cities and Malibu tend to be rehab meccas?)

Those who get into adventure therapy tend to notice another surprising benefit—that peer support in recovery is upped a notch when adventure therapy is implemented. Try to imagine not bonding with the people you’re navigating a ropes course with. Then there’s the fact that you’re overcoming physical obstacles (which can be symbolic of real life obstacles—we’re getting really meta over here) together. Drum circles and free falling into people’s arms as as trust exercise look kinda silly in comparison, no?

Creating a Crew

At Amethyst, the teamwork doesn’t end at the mountain, boat or obstacle course, either. Kelly, who began treatment in Amethyst’s Day Night Care Program (which is its version of a Partial Hospitalization Program or PHP) and then transitioned to the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) and Sober Living, says she felt supported every step of the way. “As you transition you learn from [people in the]phase above you,” she recalls. “I got to talk to people in front of me that had more experience, and through that saw this web of connectivity from one face to another. They kind of led you.”

Luckily the fun continues upon program completion, with Amethyst’s regularly scheduled community outreach programs, where alumni volunteer at botanical gardens, pet rescue places and the like. “To be able to pay it forward, and feel like I’m giving back,” Kelly says, ” is huge.” The entire experience of having people in her life with whom her relationships aren’t drug-related “taught me how to have fun,” she says.

It’s Not All Fun and Games

Before you accuse Amethyst of being for hard core adrenaline junkies, just know that the people there also serves up acupuncture, massage therapy and chiropractic services. But the facility isn’t just spa treatments, surfing and Disney World. As much as Amethyst emphasizes learning how to have fun (there’s that F word again), the people there also understand the importance of getting to the root of substance abuse. In fact, Kelly attributes the program with helping her do some serious self-reflection which led to subsequent breakthroughs. “I had seen some someone close to me commit suicide in front of me,” she recalls. “It was something I needed to deal with that I had been using heavily over for two years.” Though Kelly had sought treatment earlier near her hometown, she felt like those previous facilities regarded her more as a number than an individual. All treatment at Amethyst is individualized and Kelly can attest to that: “They took me in,” she says, “like I was their daughter.”

And did we mention she had fun?

Want to learn more about Amethyst Recovery? Reach Amethyst Recovery by phone at (855) 500-3324 or by email at [email protected] Find Amethyst Recovery on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

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