Approximately 17 million Americans struggle with an alcohol use disorder, meaning that they are addicted to alcohol or engage in harmful drinking behaviors, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. With only 15% of people with an alcohol use disorder seeking treatment, alcohol problems cost the nation $224 billion every year. Although there are a variety of treatment options for alcohol use disorder, wilderness recovery centers are becoming more and more popular. Rather than remaining in an institutional setting, these recovery programs emphasize nature and skills-building.
What to Expect from a Wilderness Alcohol Treatment Center
The first thing to know about wilderness treatment programs is that every one is different. While the particulars differ from program to program, the general purpose and goals are the same. Wilderness alcohol treatment is based on the idea that taking people out of sanitized institutional settings is one of the best ways to foster a strong recovery.
During treatment, patients spend anywhere from 3 to 8 (or even more!) weeks in a wilderness setting. They may pursue activities such as hiking, backpacking, gardening, fire starting, camping, horse riding, or other outdoor adventures. Typically, programs shy away from risky adventures such as skydiving or whitewater rafting, which may not benefit the therapeutic process. Most wilderness treatment programs incorporate plenty of time for introspection and solitude as well as opportunities to discuss experiences with a mental health professional.
Make no mistake: wilderness alcohol treatment is not simply an outdoor vacation. Rather, it is a serious approach to therapy that is designed to increase self-sufficiency and allow for introspection.
Benefits of Wilderness Treatment Approach
The wilderness treatment approach has several benefits over more traditional methods, such as Twelve Step treatment or cognitive-behavioral therapy. First, the outdoors provides a neutral, safe environment in which to explore factors that contribute to alcohol use problems. By taking a person out of his or her natural environment, wilderness therapy allows the mind to clear. This encourages patients to make new insights and recognize harmful patterns in their lives back home.
Another benefit to this therapy is that it has a strong action component. For many people, talking to a therapist seems like a daunting or unhelpful approach to tackling their alcohol use. Hiking, camping, or other outdoor pursuits are action-oriented, allowing people to work through the withdrawal process at their own pace. Wilderness therapy also provides ample opportunities to learn new skills. For people dealing with alcohol problems, feeling useless or unsure of one’s own abilities is very common. Learning to build a fire, tie knots, or engage in other survival techniques is a great way to increase feelings of self-efficacy.
Does Wilderness Therapy Work?
Wilderness therapy is an effective way to treat alcohol use problems for many people. Although the therapy is expensive, costing several hundred dollars per day, some public or private insurance programs may cover a portion of the cost.
Most importantly, wilderness therapy provides a safe, neutral environment to go through the alcohol withdrawal process and begin rebuilding your life. By receiving supervision from professional drug counselors, patients in wilderness therapy experience high rates of recovery. Many programs also include an aftercare component that helps patients transition from the wilderness setting back into their regular routines.
If you’re concerned about your alcohol use, it’s never too late to ask for help. Contact AlcoholTreatment.net today to talk to a specialist about a treatment options that make most sense for you. Our staff will help you find a wilderness therapy program that fits your needs, allowing you to make a safe and long-lasting recovery.