Cognitive behavioral therapy is a widely used treatment method for people with substance use disorders.1 During CBT, people are taught to recognize and correct harmful behavioral patterns. They learn effective and healthy coping strategies.
Sports, nature and adventure also play a role in modern addiction treatment, giving those in recovery a chance to develop positive behaviors that help them find fulfillment in their new lives.
Participating in various sports helps people stay fit and healthy. Physical benefits include improved cardiovascular performance, better muscle tone, reduced fat and increased flexibility. Mental health benefits include lower stress levels, decreased anxiety and higher self-esteem.
Taking part in team sports like soccer and basketball improves social skills. Participants learn to cope positively with winning and losing. They discover the benefits of teamwork and cooperation, and they develop motivational skills.
Taking part in sports is both challenging and rewarding. Physical activity releases dopamine and endorphins that stimulate the brain’s reward functions in a healthy way that helps reduce the desire to use substances.
During recovery, people must make fundamental changes to their lifestyles. One of those changes involves finding ways to occupy themselves physically and mentally. Taking part in sports is an excellent way to develop concentration and a healthy focus.
Research is accumulating increasing evidence about the positive physical and mental effects of being in nature.2 Studies have shown that being in nature reduces anxiety and stress levels. Being outdoors also increases people’s ability to concentrate and improves creativity.
Regular interaction with nature brings about profound changes in the brain and the body. These changes can be particularly beneficial for those in recovery from substance use disorders. They can offset some of the internal damage that substance use disorders may have caused.
People feel more relaxed when interacting with nature. Relaxation reduces heart rate and stress levels and induces a sense of well-being and positive mood. Research has also shown that people are more generous and trusting when they are exposed to pleasant natural scenes.
Adventure therapy involves people taking part in challenging activities. Examples include rock climbing, white water rafting, zip-lining, orienteering, mountain biking, hiking, camping and survival courses. Each adventure presents participants with physical and mental challenges.
Adventure therapy gives people the opportunity to learn skills that will help them in real life. These include problem solving, decision making and evaluating risks. Many adventure therapy activities demand a high level of teamwork and cooperation. This helps participants improve their interpersonal skills.
Outdoor group activities often promote the concept of self-reliance. Participants learn to fend for themselves. Conquering the various challenges boosts self-confidence and restores self-confidence.
Stress is often a factor in why people turn to substances. When people discover natural, healthy ways to reduce stress, they are less inclined to return to substance use to cope. That is why sports, nature and adventure have become key elements in modern addiction treatment.