Adding Adventure to Addiction Treatment: Adventure Therapy

Written by Journey Pure Staff

*Tim was a heroin addict. He had a great spirit but was just beat up by life. He was angry with God.

And he certainly did not want to climb a 40’ cedar tree just to ring a bell.

But Keoni Enlow, adventure facilitator at JourneyPure at the River, knew that this challenge – called the Leap of Faith – was just what Tim needed. Enlow ignored excuse after excuse and pushed for him to strap on the harness and begin the climb.

“He fought it the whole way,” said Enlow. He remembers a look of darkness in the young man’s eyes that day. “He told me, ‘I will never trust God again.’ I told him let go of what you want to let go of. Make your peace. Leave it up there. Just don’t come back down here with it.”

And so he did. Tim rang the bell and jumped off the platform with full faith that the members of his group would be there to catch him. He took the leap of faith and when he made it to the ground he dropped to his knees and cried.

Many addicts arrive at a treatment facility numb, not knowing how to feel and live life, Enlow says. His goal in involving JourneyPure patients in adventure therapy, including low ropes, high ropes, kayaking and mindfulness exercises like meditation, is to “give them hope – and whatever that looks like for them.” These activities provide an atmosphere for team-building and give patients a mental and physical challenge. It’s also a way for them to be present in the moment – to focus on the task at hand instead of consuming themselves with the life challenges that brought them to treatment.

What is Adventure Therapy?

Adventure therapy is a form of experiential therapy that dates back to the early 1900s. Proven to be an effective therapeutic approach during addiction recovery, this type of therapy is also used to help with those struggling with depression, relationship issues, childhood trauma, and anger management issues. Usually consisting of outdoor activities, benefits include:

  • Learning to trust yourself and others
  • Sense of accomplishment from physical and mental challenges
  • Team-building and leadership skills
  • Stronger self-esteem and greater self-confidence
  • Developing problem-solving skills
  • Emotional discovery and healing
  • Facing fears head on without numbing them
  • Improvement in fine motor skills and coordination
  • Helps patients step out of their comfort zone
  • Awareness of strengths and weaknesses

We are proud to offer adventure therapy at JourneyPure at the River to assist our patients regain mental and physical strength. If you or a loved one are seeking treatment, call today and our admissions team can help.

*Patient’s name has been changed to protect his identity