“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” – Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
When it comes to doing the hard work of recovery, sometimes where you choose to receive addiction treatment is as important as how and when. Because addiction is a disease that affects the core of everything we are – mind, body and spirit – treatment should take place in an environment that is conducive to healing in all of these areas.
People have found solace in nature since the beginning of time, and people suffering from addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders are no exception. In a 2007 UK study, a majority of people with mental health disorders reported that taking a “green walk” decreased their depression (71%), reduced their tension (50%) and increased their self-esteem (90%).
A New Beginning
There is no better setting to get a fresh start on life than in nature. In nature, we see an ongoing series of endings and new beginnings; each day begins with a sunrise and ends with a sunset, the seasons change predictably and every year spring brings the birth of new life. Understanding the full circle of life provides perspective and a sense of stability at a time when addiction has made life decidedly unstable.
Nature also has the ability to regenerate itself after damage caused by fire, floods, lightning and other natural disasters. This ability can inspire those struggling with addiction to persevere in spite of challenges and to redefine themselves even if they’ve struggled with relapse or other hardships in the past. The message from nature is one of hope, survival and rebirth.
The 12-Step philosophy suggests that people are powerless over their addiction. Only by surrendering to the idea that they don’t have control over their drug or alcohol use can people claim the power to change their lives. Surrender comes with a strong sense of relief, as people finally realize they don’t have to fight this battle alone. This change of mindset opens people to new behaviors and helps them find a willingness to listen to guidance and accept support.
The forces of nature help people in recovery to develop a healthy ability to surrender control. Although we cannot dictate the weather or control the elements, there are other things we can control, such as our own behaviors and reactions. The next step is realizing that you can cope with whatever comes your way, which builds confidence and the strength to stay clean and sober.
Connecting to a Higher Power
Research shows that direct contact with nature not only improves mental health but also aids in spiritual development – an integral part of the 12 Steps. The 12-Step philosophy asks people in recovery to turn their lives over to a power greater than themselves.
In nature, people can’t help but see a higher power at work. Being surrounded by nature helps people feel connected to the world around them and provides a sense of meaning and purpose in an otherwise chaotic life.
If you spend a few minutes observing nature, you can’t help but notice how everything is interconnected and has an order that works seamlessly without any outside intervention. Realizing that people are an essential component of this larger structure can supply a sense of purpose and belonging. At the same time, we realize that we are just one small part of a much bigger universe, which provides a sense of humility – another critical component of the 12-Step philosophy.
Spending time outdoors increases the chances that people in recovery will engage in active pursuits. Research suggests that people who make time for outdoor recreation experience less stress, depression and anxiety. They also feel a greater sense of belonging in the world, improved self-confidence and an enhanced sense of well-being.
Problem-Solving and Goal-Setting
Natural spaces stimulate creativity and problem-solving ability. In the quiet solitude of nature, recovering addicts and alcoholics have an opportunity to get acquainted with their thoughts and feelings and reflect on their decisions and goals for the future. In this sense, nature provides a refuge that people can retreat to in order to clear their minds and gain new insights.
Experience the Restorative Power of Nature in Drug Rehab
A stay in drug rehab is a time to decompress and reconnect with what matters to you. This is a process that is facilitated by a natural setting, outdoor activities and a healthy daily routine.
The Camp Recovery Center is an ideal place to focus on recovery. A comprehensive drug rehab program located on 25 acres in the beautiful Santa Cruz Mountains in Scotts Valley, California, The Camp was designed as a haven where patients can take a time-out from their lives. With a stunning natural backdrop and a team of caring professionals, The Camp is a place where drug rehab isn’t something to dread or be afraid of, but instead is an opportunity to get away from it all and focus on healing.
Under a bright blue sky, surrounded by redwood trees, patients at The Camp go swimming, explore the nearby hiking trails, and play games on the ropes course and basketball and tennis courts. They live in cabins and walk the center’s grounds for meals and therapy groups. During personal time, patients have the chance to meditate outdoors and gain a new perspective on life like only nature can provide.
The combination of an active lifestyle, beautiful natural surroundings and comprehensive addiction treatment affirm that a life without drugs or alcohol is well worth living. Patients at The Camp are reminded every day that even in the midst of darkness, the sun will shine again.