american addiction centers photo
We’re here to help 24/7!
American Addiction Centers Helpline Information
  • Home
  • blog
  • the many benefits of wilderness adventure therapy

The Many Benefits of Wilderness Adventure Therapy

Table of Contents

Go Take a Hike!

That’s exactly what some are doing to battle addiction these days.

Wilderness adventure therapy has been gaining steam across the country and offers an nontraditional method to stay clean.

Driven by the philosophy of experiential education and theories of psychology, adventure programs utilize outdoor adventure pursuits, such as hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking and backpacking, to enhance personal and interpersonal growth.

Mother Nature is a Powerful Ally

Incorporating physical activity with the outdoors offers a multitude of benefits for the recovering addict. First, it gives participants in the program the opportunity to try new things and overcome obstacles in a team setting. This not only promotes team-building, but it fosters strong relationships with mentors and peers. In addition, communication and coping skills are strengthened through the process, so that participants can make better future choices. By teaching recovering addicts how to express their emotions and feelings, their sense of self is enhanced, which provides a feeling of empowerment.

The adventure setting also enables participants to experience natural consequences of their actions. Staff members take a step back from the traditional role of authority, which equips those with the self-awareness and ability to respond to whatever arises in the moment. As a result, participants begin to believe they’re able to overcome the obstacles they’re faced with.

Finally, completing a wilderness therapy program also represents a sense of accomplishment that can be used to draw strength from in the future. In other words, participants believe that since they successfully completed the program, they can also complete other tasks down the road. This sense of achievement is combined with physical health and well-being, which not only helps participants feel better about themselves, but also increases their desire to make long-term change.

You Can’t Trump Nature

Research shows these programs really do work. When comparing the reduction in recidivism rates with traditional programs and programs with adventure therapy, programs using adventure therapy have lower recidivism. In fact, participants report higher self-esteem, self-efficacy, problem-solving ability and attitude, as well as an increase in interpersonal relatedness, which has been described as the most important factor for improving mental health issues.

In short, this type of outdoor therapy allows recovering addicts to experience the best of what the wilderness has to offer. Because, think about it…with all the distractions and stresses from the real world taken away, the outdoors is an ideal place to realize one’s true potential.


Additional Reading: 4 Ways Yoga Boosts the Addiction Treatment Process


Image Source: iStock