Nature Rehabs for Drug & Alcohol Addiction Treatment

2 min read · 3 sections

Seeking treatment for addiction can be overwhelming prospect. It is a process that takes patience and motivation as well as an openness to discover and implement significant lifestyle changes.

Learn about how drug rehab centers can intertwine natural beauty and proven therapeutic modalities to create a healing environment for all patients.

Rehab and treatment for substance use disorders (SUDs) may be more appealing to some people if the facilities are in a beautiful, natural environment. Research suggests that nature and even virtual nature settings, referred to as environmental enhancement, have therapeutic health benefits that can play a significant role in addiction therapy.1

Environmental enhancement, whether in the form of spending time in nature, physical activity, or building social connections, is thought to be successful in large part because it is not dependent on new learning.1 It can help control compulsive drug taking, reduce the effectiveness of drug cues, and reduce stress, a known risk factor in relapse.1

A treatment facility located near a beach or in the mountains may increase a person’s motivation to get help. Location can be an additional incentive, beyond recovery, for seeking treatment and going to rehab.

The Role of Nature in Recovery

Contemporary advances in addiction neuroscience have led researchers to study the efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) in treating substance use disorders.2

Mindfulness practices typically incorporate breathing exercises and body scans to bring awareness to the physical body and the present moment to reduce stress.2 Grounding exercises can contribute to a feeling of connection with ourselves and the world around us. MBIs also reduce the heart rate and regulate physiological reactivity, thus helping to manage cravings for drugs and alcohol.2

Research indicates that both mindfulness training and exposure to nature have many positive health benefits.3 Studies show that spending time in nature promotes health by reducing levels of stress, depression, and anxiety.3

Coincidentally, mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder are the most common co-occurring mental health disorders among substance use and addiction patients.4 Some research has shown that as many as 20%–67% of people seeking treatment for alcohol misuse also experienced depression.4 Treating people’s mental health conditions while simultaneously addressing their substance abuse and addiction has been shown to improve treatment outcomes.4

Being in nature and paying attention to the natural environment, away from electronic devices, promotes what is called soft fascination, where the attention is effortlessly drawn to fascinating objects and can also help reduce stress.3

Types of Natural Settings for Rehab

A sociocultural model of addiction treatment addresses what the aspects of a client’s life that are missing and accentuates which may be contributing to substance use. It focuses on changing the physical and social environment, particularly through spiritual or mindfulness activities and social support.5 This is where natural settings for rehab fit in.

For some people, sitting in an office and discussing behaviors, feelings, and emotions can be extremely uncomfortable. Natural settings for rehab provide opportunities that traditional therapy and treatment models do not. They have been proven to be more effective with particular populations, such as adolescents who have substance use and mental health disorders.6

Some of these experiences can be found in rehabs that are located in the following locations:

  • Beaches: Laguna Treatment Center is located just a short 10–15 minute drive to the beach. Some treatment programs may incorporate regular trips to the beach to exercise or meditate.
  • Mountains: Rehab in the mountains might incorporate hiking or nature walks into treatment programs.
  • Forests: Shinrin-Yoku, a Japanese term translated as “forest bathing,” is used when referring to mindfully immersing oneself in nature. The resulting therapeutic effects include improved immune system function, mental relaxation, reduced heart rate, and reduced depression and anxiety.7
  • Wilderness expeditions: Outdoor behavioral healthcare (OBH) options are receiving more attention and have been shown to have many benefits and positive outcomes in treating substance use disorders in certain populations.6

Nature-Based Rehab Amenities and Therapies

The amenities and therapies that nature-based rehabs can provide, including group outings, hiking, and even surfing, can be powerful experiences for people in early sobriety.

Outdoor behavioral healthcare and extended backcountry and wilderness therapy allow for active and direct client participation and responsibility. It also fosters teamwork and social interactions, and uses nature in reality, as well as a metaphor within the therapeutic process. Adventure experiences can help encourage the development of a positive use for stress and facilitate a strong ethic of care and support throughout the therapeutic experience.

Addiction treatment should be customized to meet the needs of each person, so treatment may look different for different people. It is important to determine what will work best to address the needs of you as a whole person, not just your substance use disorder. Nature-based rehab facilities and programs could be an ideal option for you. Don’t hesitate to find out more today by calling or clicking here to find the best treatment options available to fit your needs.

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