wilderness therapy

What Makes Wilderness Treatment Unique?

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Substance abuse treatment has progressed over the past few decades, and the increased understanding of the disease of addiction has led to the creation of innovative and effective ways to treat substance abuse. As a result, an increasing number of drug rehabs nationwide have created new and exciting drug treatment programs that help those who struggle with substance abuse break free from their addiction. An example of one of these groundbreaking addiction treatment options is wilderness treatment. If you are unfamiliar with what wilderness therapy is and how it can benefit those who are addicted to drugs and alcohol, contact the treatment professionals at First Steps Recovery toll-free today for more information.

What Are Wilderness Programs for Addiction Treatment?

Wilderness programs for addiction treatment had its roots in the 1970’s, but was not widely popular or accepted among the treatment community at that time. In the beginning, many of the treatment programs that adopted wilderness elements were largely thrown together and lacked qualified counselors. The use of wilderness therapy as a viable treatment option started to gain momentum in the mid-1990’s when effective and proven substance abuse treatment therapies  of these programs. While wilderness treatment programs  are most commonly used for adolescents and young adults who are struggling with substance abuse, this type of therapy can be easily adaptable to a variety of clients and their unique treatment needs.

wilderness treatment for addiction

What Makes Wilderness Addiction Treatment So Unique?

Wilderness treatment for addiction has slowly become a more popular option for those who are seeking a treatment option that is different from more traditional treatment programs. There are several ways in which wilderness treatment is unique

Treatment Setting

The most obvious way in which wilderness therapy is unique is that clients receive treatment in the great and wild outdoors. Clients in wilderness therapy programs spend the majority of their days outdoors, doing challenging and character-building activities which include learning how to build shelter, make fire, learning to forage for food and other survival skills. These skills help those going through wilderness therapy develop self-confidence, self-worth, and self-control.

While the treatment setting is unique, wilderness therapy programs for addiction still feature the same counseling and therapy practices that are used in traditional treatment programs. These programs are run, maintained and supervised by counselors and therapists who have Master’s degrees and state certification in substance abuse treatment and counseling. As with other treatment programs, therapists and counselors work to create individualized treatment plans that focus on the specific needs of each client.

Treatment professionals at the program will meet with and assess each client, determining what they believe to be the best plan of action to help this person overcome their substance abuse, mental health, and other issues. A proper assessment ensures that clients are placed with therapists and peers who can relate to their issues.

Wilderness Therapy Is Not Boot Camp

Despite what some may think, wilderness therapy is not a boot-camp style program. While its’ origins do lie within the juvenile justice systems, wilderness programs that are utilized in the context of drug treatment philosophy are ones in which treatment staff works to develop relationships with clients that are based on compassion and respect–and they utilize Mother Nature as a teacher. Wilderness addiction therapy programs create therapeutic opportunities as students face the unpredictable circumstances that emerge in nature. Through the help of experienced outdoor therapists, students must endure the natural hardship of living in the outdoors, creating a great opportunity for building confidence and self-reliance and learning to work with others.

Wilderness Therapy Allows Nature to Act As The Ultimate Healer

Since the beginning of time, people have turned to Mother Nature in order to seek clarity in their present experience and to also experience a deeper sense of themselves and to ultimately find healing. While it is difficult to put into words, nature has a certain kind of light and clarity that speaks clearly to the soul. When we go into nature, we are able to touch a deeper part of ourselves that has been by the distractions and hectic pace of daily life.  In a wilderness therapy program, the therapy and activities that are part of programming are designed to help clients re-establish their sense of purpose and allow them to truly heal themselves. Wilderness programs help provide a peaceful and majestic context in which clients can truly reconnect with themselves and with the world at large in order to find much-needed direction.

Wilderness Programs Help Create a Sense of Fellowship and Community

Wilderness programs in an addiction treatment setting allow people to create a sense of community that is based on honor, integrity, trust, and cooperation. Free of the distractions and materialism that is present in the “normal” world, wilderness programs strip everyday living to its most basic essence, and people need to learn to work with each other in order to adequately meet the rigors and demands of co-existing with nature. In many wilderness therapy programs, groups rarely exceed 10 people so everyone has a chance to make a meaningful contribution.

Those that take part in these programs become tightly bonded together with the simple cause of just living as simple as possible and learning to support each other when it is difficult and sharing expectations in order to get along. Through a wilderness therapy program, people have the unique opportunity to learn about oneself, one’s role in the world, one’s purpose and the importance of what it simply means to be human.

Are You Searching for A Breakthrough in Your Recovery?

If you are looking for a different and exciting drug treatment program that can provide you with the breakthrough you need in your recovery, call First Steps Recovery and learn more about our wilderness therapy program. Run by experienced therapy staff, our wilderness addiction therapy program combines traditional individual and group therapy along with the life and coping skills training of the great outdoors. Contact First Steps Recovery toll-free right now and start a new and exciting chapter in your recovery journey.

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