How Does Group Adventure Therapy Help With Addiction Recovery?

Addiction Recovery Publishing Addiction Recovery June 6, 2023

How Does Group Adventure Therapy Help With Addiction Recovery?

Being able to connect to nature is one of the fundamental and foundational aspects that we as human beings still have access to. Group adventure therapy helps us get in touch with all the benefits nature has to offer. Yet, many people have become disconnected from the natural world. It is certainly not their fault; it is just a byproduct of the modern era. Urban hubs and developed spaces have become the norm in the Western world, particularly the United States. 

Many people are unaware of one of the most elemental benefits of reconnecting with nature. This is the healing potential that nature offers. The life-healing component is also why nature immersion and group adventure therapy are essential for individuals seeking addiction recovery. Addiction can make our world minuscule, but connecting with our natural environment can make it expansive once again.

What Exactly Is Group Adventure Therapy?

While it holds true to its namesake, group adventure therapy has just as much core complexity as any other mental health or addiction treatment modality. Yes, while more technical neuroscientific therapies can be, and are, highly beneficial for many individuals, one should never underestimate the healing power of engaging with nature. Especially the benefits of engaging with nature with others that have shared past experiences. 

It is worth noting that group adventure therapy is also much more complex than independent group exploration. While there is nothing wrong with that, it does eliminate the “therapy” aspect of what makes it an effective part of a recovery plan. That is why our licensed recovery professionals work to incorporate the components of group adventure therapy into each individual’s greater comprehensive recovery plan. 

How Does Group Adventure Therapy Work?

Group adventure therapy (also known as nature immersion therapy) works to help individuals establish both a connection to nature as well as a connection to other members of the group. This allows for a personal experience with the land and a break from our often congested urban settings. Here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we like to say that “nature is medicine.” We have found that Hawaii is one of the best “prescribers of that medicine” in the world.

Partaking in that nature with others allows for a shared experience unlike any other. Day-to-day life finds many of us engaging in the same mundane and often unhealthy interactions. Breaking that routine and being in nature with others brings out deeper connections and more honest communication. 

What Are the Benefits of Group Adventure Therapy?

Here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we offer a holistic approach to recovery. This means we focus on interconnected mind-body healing. All of which can be addressed via group adventure therapy. The following are just a few of the benefits that this therapy offers:

  • Reduces stress which often leads to anxiety and depression 
  • Offers sleep benefits, which include reducing insomnia and addressing excessive sleep
  • Reduces racing thoughts
  • Can improve memory and attention span 
  • Improves communication skills and empathy
  • Offers health improvements, such as lowered blood pressure and decreased heart rate
  • Can create a healthy spiritual perspective 
  • Inspire a future healthier holistic lifestyle

Cognitive Function and Group Adventure Therapy

One highly beneficial factor of group adventure therapy is its potential to aid in cognitive function. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “A growing number of studies have found that exposure to natural environments compared with urban environments is associated with improved attention, executive function, and perceived restorativeness. Further, “These studies have found statistically significant associations with positive cognitive outcomes, even after short periods of time spent in natural environments.”

Addiction affects the interconnectedness of our entire being. This includes our psychological (emotions), cognitive (thoughts), and physical (actions) selves. Being able to restore cognitive function can be essential for recovery. However, the benefits of group adventure therapy do not conclude with cognitive benefits. It also aids in emotional healing.

Emotional Healing and Group Adventure Therapy

The emotional distress that addiction often inflicts is both substantial and detrimental to one’s ability to function on the day-to-day. According to the American Phycological Association (APA) and the 2019 peer-reviewed journal Science Advances, “Gregory Bratman, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the University of Washington, and colleagues shared evidence that contact with nature is associated with increases in happiness, subjective well-being, positive affect, positive social interactions, and a sense of meaning and purpose in life, as well as decreases in mental distress.”

Being able to increase mood is a vital component of addiction recovery. Outlook can be everything when it comes to healing at the cellular level. From the very core of our being, it can be critical to create the fundamental shift from the depths of despair of addiction and elevate ourselves to a place of positive emotions. Natural experience has been shown to offer this shift. 

It should also be noted that it is not uncommon for individuals struggling with issues of addiction to also struggle with co-occurring disorders. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Of the 20.3 million adults with substance use disorders, 37.9% also had mental illnesses, and ”among the 42.1% adults with mental illness, 18.2% also had substance use disorders.” 

Group adventure therapy can address co-occurring disorders of addiction and mental health in tandem by addressing the psychological components that are often symbiotically linked. For example, say an individual is struggling with substance use disorder (SUD) and anxiety and depression. Group adventure therapy can lower the stress levels that often trigger addictive tendencies and, more often than not, elevates anxiety levels. That is not just a theory either. Nature immersion has been shown to directly reduce stress.

Lowering Stress Levels With Group Adventure Therapy

Stress is one of the primary factors that often lead to substance abuse while in active addiction and relapse while in active recovery. There is a saying that is attributed to the 12-Step program that refers to individuals in recovery avoiding “people, places, and things.” What this means is that these are the three components that have the most potential to be “triggers” for those with SUD. 

These are also the three components that are often loaded with stress. For example, “people” have the ability to push us to the edge and tempt toxic behaviors. “Places” have the ability to bring up toxic memories. “Things” can also invite feelings of anxiety, as well as be the literal tool by which one engages or reengages with active addiction. Group adventure therapy can tamp down these stressors.

According to the previously mentioned International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “Several experimental studies have examined perceived stress and other subjective measures of stress, such as sleep quality,” and “a recent systematic review of more than 40 experimental studies indicates that measures of heart rate, blood pressure, and perceived stress provide the most convincing evidence that exposure to nature or outdoor environments may reduce the negative effects of stress.” Stress reduction is a key component of recovery, and group adventure therapy ardently addresses it. 

Focusing on the Group Aspect of Group Adventure Therapy

While there has been a lot of discussion about the “nature immersion” element of group adventure therapy, the “group therapy” component is just as critical. One of the most important pieces of addiction recovery is the potential for individuals to interact with others that have what is often referred to as “shared experience.”

Now, shared experience does not mean that individuals will have mirrored stories. What shared experience refers to is the emotional components of active addiction. The stories almost always invariably differ, but the emotional experiences of despair, loneliness, and hopelessness are quite often shared. 

We Are Not Alone

Understanding that we are not alone in what we have undergone in addiction can be a breakthrough experience. However, shared experience does not only apply to what we were once like in active addiction. It also refers to what we are like in recovery.

Being able to connect to people that have gone through the torment that substance and alcohol abuse often inflicts and have come out on the other side healed and happy is an essential aspect of addiction group therapy. Also, being able to see that sobriety is not only possible but plausible is often a game-changer for individuals that are either skeptical or hesitant about their recovery potential. The factor of “they can do it, so can I” can greatly improve not only one’s psyche but also their chances of a healthy recovery. This concept of “shared experience” is heightened even more via group adventure therapy.

Being able to share the sunset on Spencer Beach, the lava flow at Kilauea Volcano, or the breathtaking beauty of Akaka Falls is something that our clients can take away from their stay for the rest of their lives. These types of unique natural experiences create a bond and open a line of communication that can make opening up an honest dialogue significantly smoother, and being honest will one another ultimately helps us be honest with ourselves.

Group Adventure Therapy at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab

We here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab are especially grateful to be able to offer the beautiful backdrop of Hawaii for our client’s group adventure therapy. Our clients have the opportunity to take a short 15-minute walk and be immersed in the stunning Akaka Falls. They can also swim with green turtles and tropical fish. Our clients even have the opportunity to feed and interact with manta rays once a month.

Hawaii is one of the most adventurous places on the planet, so it should not be surprising that it is one of the best places to experience group adventure therapy. This therapy doesn’t have to be exceptionally daring, either. Yes, at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, our clients can go visit an active volcano and watch the lava flow. However, they can also wake up every morning to one of the most beautiful sunrises imaginable and go to bed with a similarly sensational sunset.

Individualized Recovery Plans

These experiences can then be incorporated into each of our clients’ individualized recovery plans to better get to the core issues that have been causing their unhappiness. We are all complex and interconnected beings. So our recovery plans should mirror that complexity. Here at Exclusive Hawaii Recovery, we believe that “one-note” treatment is nil. Because of this, we offer a comprehensive, multi-faceted multi-modality approach to recovery.

Integrating Group Adventure Therapy Into Our Other Treatment Modalities at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab

Here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we pride ourselves on being able to offer an abundance of treatment options run by some of the most highly regarded specialists and professionals on the island. These modalities include “traditional,” experiential, and holistic options. Such various offerings are utilized together to best create a comprehensive, always individualized recovery plan that offers the best opportunity to address core causes and heal at the cellular level.

We offer “traditional” mental health therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and psychodynamic therapy. These help our clients delve deep and start to focus on the underlying issues that are often the root causes of their addictive actions. Once these root causes have been discovered, then it becomes possible to start to adjust and address the negative behaviors so they no longer become disruptive and destructive in long-term recovery.

We also offer experiential therapies, of which group adventure therapy is a part. This also includes therapies unique to Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, such as manta rays, ocean, and surf therapy. These therapies allow our clients to heal through immersive activities. They can then utilize these experiences to better express themselves in either an individual or group therapy setting. 

A Team of Licensed Professionals

Our holistic treatment options are expansive and some of which we are uniquely able to offer because we have licensed professionals like medical doctors, an addictionologist, and a neuropathy doctor (ND) on-site. This allows us to offer such treatments as Concierge IV Infusions, Glutathione Infusions, and Meyers Cocktails. 

Along with other holistic methods like acupuncture, deep tissue massage, and yoga on the beach, these treatments can help with the interconnectedness of mind-body, as well as relax racing thoughts and strengthen the inner resolve vital for long-term recovery.

The Importance of Connecting to Something Greater Than Ourselves in Recovery

Addiction and mental health disorders often whittle down our worlds to very small, very lonely spheres. We often become consumed by the root causes of our emotional destruction, whether we know it or not. Group adventure therapy helps to expand our world and free us from the internal harms that active addiction has wrought. 

In addition, that expansive world and newfound outlook do not end once our clients leave our luxury recovery center. The Hawaiin adventure experiences can be carried back out into everyday life and become treasured memories that also act as insurance against the return of negative thoughts and addictive actions.

Exclusive Hawaii Rehab and our group adventure therapy can expand that world and remind us that there is something greater than ourselves in recovery. There is a beautiful world out there that we are a part of. It is a world that we deserve to be a part of. A world that is ready and waiting to heal us. All we have to do is open our eyes, engage, and embrace it.

The great thinker Einstein once famously said that “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” That is what we offer here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, not just with our group adventure therapy but with our entire catalog of treatments. We heal at the core level, engage the imagination, and allow our clients to create the type of life for themselves that they may not have thought possible but that they earned and deserve to experience.

Being outdoors is one of the most beneficial things one can do for their overall health. The benefits of nature have been proven to help improve mental and physical health. Group therapy takes it one step further by helping individuals work together and build relationships with themselves and others. At Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, clients can participate in group adventure therapy at the nearby Akaka Falls, only 15 minutes away, swim with the green turtles, see the flowing lava at a nearby active volcano, or simply be outdoors and watch the sunrise while on our 30-acre private property overlooking the Pacific Ocean with a breathtaking 14,000-foot snowcap mountain behind us. For more information, contact Exclusive Hawaii Rehab at (808) 775-0200.