Addiction tends to affect everyone in slightly different ways. Similarly, addiction recovery is also different for everyone and it’s hard to tell which type of therapy will work for one person and not another. For this reason many alcohol and addiction recovery centers are providing many different treatment options in order to provide variety to residents looking to reach long-term sobriety. Traditional forms of therapy are joining together with alternative treatment options in order to reach success with every addict. Music, recreation, horses, art, and the wilderness are all various types of therapies being offered in order to cater to each type of addict and the therapy that works for them.
Music is an amazing way to reflect, release feelings, and communicate with others. Music has a great effect on mood in many forms from listening to it to creating it. Music therapy is used in a variety of different ways depending on each person. Music in a group setting can be used during meditation to reflect and allow positive music to effect thinking. Playing music has similar effects in that it elevates mood and increases serotonin. Writing lyrics is an artistic way that many musicians use in order to communicate their feelings and release them. It’s a cathartic feeling to be able to write emotions so that others can relate.
Whether you are a musician that can play or sing or if you’d rather write lyrics or if you’d rather just listen, there is a form of music therapy that could work for you. Music education offers many of the same benefits to adults as it does for children and adults in rehab can benefit from learning, teamwork, and community that comes with learning about music.
Addiction recovery is taxing both mentally and physically. Detox in itself is extremely painful and difficult for many people suffering from addiction. Going through recovery, spending a lot of time understanding addiction, why addiction effects some and not others, and being held accountable for the poor choices that were made can be hard to face for many. Such a big lifestyle change is hard to maintain for some that have only known one type of life. For these reasons, recreational therapy is greatly rewarding for many.
Boxing, bowling, reading, writing poetry, playing tennis, or mountain biking are all types of recreational therapy that teaches addicts new ways to have fun, relieve stress, and build relationships with others. Outside of therapy, recovering addicts can utilize the recreation they liked to relieve stress and find others that they share interests with that offer healthier friendships than they may have with other addicts at home.
More and more therapy centers are embracing the benefits of equine therapy. Residents ride the horses, take care of them, and bond to them. Animal therapy is a great activity for recovery in general, but equine therapy is so positive due to the type of relationships that residents are able to build with the horses. Horses are extremely intuitive and emotional animals and those that communicate with them and take care of them must learn ways to work with them. Equine therapy has been proven to relieve stress, help with depression and anxiety, and boost self-esteem. Equine therapy is a great source of trust and comfort from those in recovery that may be dealing with negativity while in rehab.
Art therapy is not just a way to relieve stress for those in recovery, it’s also used in the same way that music therapy is used. For some it’s easiest to communicate how you are feeling through other mediums like painting, pottery, sculpture, drawing, or making other crafts. This can also serve a purpose in the same way that recreational therapy does in that it offers a hobby and a way to find a community of people of similar interests. Art in many mediums is cathartic, relaxing, stress relieving, and increases awareness for patients. In rehab when so much of traditional therapy is about talking about feelings, experiences, and opening up about lingering issues that may be triggering substance abuse, art therapy can be used to let out those negative feelings.
Wilderness therapy is all about independence, self-reliance, and adaptability. This form of therapy is usually used for teens and young adults, but it’s a form of therapy that pushes addicts to the edge of their comfortability in order to build autonomy. Addicts and alcoholics are taken to the wilderness for a period of days or weeks with counselors that are there to ensure their safety and to utilize traditional therapy sessions during one on one sessions. Participants hike, cook food, and learn to rely on themselves. This self-reliance builds self-esteem and teaches them how to adapt to situations that feel out of their control. The expeditions are therapeutic and cathartic and offer addicts a whole new way to work their way to sobriety.
Traditional therapy is a great resource for those suffering from substance abuse in many forms and will always be used as the primary form of rehabilitation for substance abuse. In order to effectively reach many different types of people, alternative forms of therapy are offered to help relieve stress, release emotion, and create relationships in a healthy way without substance abuse. Therapy sessions are great ways to dig into the issues that cause addiction and to teach the tools to stay sober, but sometimes it’s extremely therapeutic to paint a picture, listen to music, or spend time outside.
Chelsy Ranard is a writer from Montana who is now living in Boise, Idaho. She graduated with her journalism degree from the University of Montana in 2012. She is passionate about addiction recovery advocacy, loves to travel, and can commonly be found playing Frisbee with her dog, Titan.
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