Between medication, detox, and 12-step groups, there’s a variety of treatment options available to help young adults struggling with addiction. The question is: are they bandaids to cover up problem behaviors or do they provide long-term solutions to underlying core issues? Although researchers have found many evidence-based therapies to aid people in recovery from addiction, some suggest that we have all the help we need around us in nature. Is it really that simple? Can nature help young adults overcome addiction?
Nature Reduces Stress
Sunlight and fresh air are two of the most effective ways to calm a stressed-out body, by relieving anxiety, tension, and sinking feelings of being trapped. Walking in nature has been proven to lower cortisol levels (the stress hormone), improve mood, and reduce the risk of mental health issues. There is a reason some psychologists recommend that people who struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder should move to warmer climates or invest in a lightbox. Arizona, where Red Mountain Sedona is located, is one of the sunniest states in the country, with 310 days of sun a year!
Nature Reduces Cravings
In a recent study about whether exposure to nature had any effect on cravings for cigarettes, alcohol, or unhealthy food, they found that “people who had access to a garden — either a private one or a community one — reported more infrequent and less intense cravings, and people whose views from home incorporated more than 25 percent green space described similar benefits.” Time spent in nature and the type of activities they engage in outdoors were not measured. This suggests that whatever you do outside doesn’t matter in terms of reaping the benefits of the great outdoors. Showing that lower craving is linked to more exposure to green spaces is a promising first step.
Nature Connects Us to Something Bigger
Many people struggling with substance use feel disconnected from others, themselves, and what is going on around them. They express that it can be hard to see beyond the place where they are currently stuck. It’s hard to recognize that other people want to help and to believe that they deserve this support.
In another study about alternative ways to reduce stress, where researchers asked participants to recall personal experiences of awe, people most frequently described encounters with nature, particularly sunrises, mountains, waterfalls, and celestial events. Nature is a reminder that the world has a similar kind of neuroplasticity to the human mind. It reminds us to slow down, breathe, and recognize how we are connected to people and things around us. These lessons are learned through mindful awareness. The way we speak about protecting the environment reminds us of the role we play in nature, however small it may feel.
Nature Encourages Healthier Activities
Many people who stop using substances struggle to find alternative coping mechanisms and social activities that give them the same sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. While they may be able to recognize the consequences of their substance use, cravings are reinforced by memories of euphoria, connection, and a numbing of emotional pain. To maintain sobriety, young adults must learn to replace destructive behaviors with healthier ones.
At Red Mountain Sedona, we recognize the value of nature in helping people to heal. Some of the activities we offer through our adventure therapy and recreation program include:
- Martial Arts
- Skiing and Snowboarding
- Rock Climbing
- Mountain biking
- Ropes courses
Nature is Accessible
Arizona is home to over 30 state parks, with many in Red Mountain Sedona’s backyard. From the Grand Canyon to deserts and even mountains, Arizona’s landscape is breathtaking and never far away. Time in nature alone isn’t enough to “cure” addiction. Although cravings dissipate over time and people have experienced transformative journeys backpacking during early sobriety, addiction takes a toll on the body and the brain that can never truly be “cured,” but nature can help young adults find peace, purpose, and distance from toxic influences and distractions in other environments. This is why Red Mountain Sedona has chosen a natural setting to help young adults heal from past experiences and to introduce them to the beauty the world has to offer in recovery.
Red Mountain Sedona Can Help
Red Mountain Sedona is a mindfulness-based transitional program designed to help young adults ages 18 to 28 struggling with behavioral and emotional challenges. Our program provides a safe environment where our students can let their guards down in order to experience true healing. Our environment allows them to learn the benefits of being themselves and practice the skills needed to make lasting changes in their lives. The RMS program is based on principles of mindful living and incorporates yoga, meditation, martial arts, and adventure therapy to help young adults adopt different mindsets and connect with nature. We can help your family today!
For more information about our mindful living approach, contact us at (855) 998-5272.