Treatment for addiction is usually handled in one of two ways: inpatient treatment or outpatient. One alternative, however, is wilderness therapy. This unique form of therapy doesn’t run off a disciplinary model, as some might expect. It’s actually a popular clinical approach to addiction for adolescents and young adults. Nature has proven a great recovery tool.
In the wild, you’re free from many of the negative influences and triggers found in regular day-to-day life. Living in nature for long periods of time is a fresh new challenge for most people and a big opportunity to step out of their comfort zone. Adolescents in nature therapy are constantly monitored by qualified professionals—not camp counselors, but certified addiction counselors.
In wilderness therapy, patients are assigned tasks—primitive stuff like fire-making, backpacking, and building shelter—all designed to teach leadership skills and self-reliance. It’s all about team effort. These programs can last from three to eight weeks, more than enough time to build meaningful relationships with fellow patients as well as staff.
Wilderness therapy might just be a crucial step in a long recovery journey that continues with traditional outpatient treatment at home. Many specialists know how to deal specifically with teens fresh out of wilderness therapy and may be experiencing a bit of culture shock.
Note: Distinguishing wilderness therapy from wilderness camp, the military-minded counterpart, can be tricky. The latter is often referred to as “therapy” as well. Do your research. Get online, read parent testimonials, and go see the place for yourself. Above all, make sure the staff clinically licensed; if it’s not, stay away, because it’s not what you’re looking for.
A good rule of thumb is that anywhere which promises behavioral modification is a probably a boot camp. In the field of addiction management, there are no such promises.
For answers to your any pressing questions you may have about addiction, recovery, or the use of the outdoors as a therapy tool, contact us at (949) 637-5499. The staff here will be happy to speak with you and to refer you for help.