Skip to main content

The goal of every recovery program is to help the addict walk away from addictions. Sometimes the goal is to moderate consumption, such as eating healthy food instead of binge eating or starving oneself. Regardless, the road to recovery is part of a journey towards sobriety. That journey starts with wanting to change. Having options can help make the transition to sobriety fun if not life-changing. For many recovering addicts one option is beginning the 12-Step Program. For others we have found that Holistic alternatives, or Adventure therapy can fill in the void that the 12 steps sometimes cannot. Each individual is different. It’s up to you to take the first step. 

What is Adventure Recovery?

When you think of addiction treatment, you probably think of either individual counseling or group therapy. However, there is a new emerging form of therapy growing in popularity: adventure therapy. Adventure therapy may not be well known yet but it has proven to be a powerful and effective method for those who utilize it. Treatment centers in the US and all over the world are beginning to offer adventure therapy to their clients, as it offers a number of key benefits that standard counseling cannot provide as easily. In this article, we will begin by defining adventure therapy and its benefits and will then review some of the types of activities associated with adventure therapy.

Adventure Therapy Defined

In the simplest terms, adventure therapy is basically a process of getting outside, engaging nature and creating a challenging physical or mental activity to educate and practice coping skills and elicit emotions. This, however, is probably something of an oversimplification of the process. In fact, adventure therapy is such a specific form of psychotherapy that one can actually earn a Master’s degree in adventure therapy at some universities. The word “adventure” points to the fact that this form of therapy often involves outdoor activities, usually with some sort of physically demanding component. This is something that many clients at traditional treatment centers will not receive. There is some crossover between adventure therapy and other forms of therapy, such as wilderness therapy. While both may take place outdoors, wilderness therapy generally focuses on one’s abilities to adapt to nature/harsher environments & unfamiliar surroundings. Adventure therapy, on the other hand, is focused more toward challenging activities and exercises that will allow patients to overcome obstacles, experience powerful emotions and practice coping skills in a real-life practical setting. When done correctly, adventure therapy activities are emotionally, cognitively and physically challenging for the client. Clients will learn about themselves and about each other. They will learn about cooperation and communication. But more importantly, they will be given a chance to have fun and to feel human again. After long periods of crippling addiction, this is a feeling that cannot be overrated.During an adventure experience, clients may find themselves facing some of the same emotional triggers they used to experience while in active addiction. Fortunately for them, they will not be alone. While adventure therapy can be done in a one-on-one session, it is normally conducted in process groups. Also known as “personal exploration groups,” process groups allow patients to engage in especially designed exercises so that they may work on such vital character attributes as honesty, communication, and the ability to put faith in others. In addition to traditional trust building exercises such as falling backward into a person’s arms, clients will also learn to trust each other by working together on activities such as mountain climbing, kayaking, hiking and zip-lining. Adventure therapy is actually a fairly old idea. Activities such as camping have been used for therapeutic purposes in one context or another since the early 1900s. Over the subsequent decades, it grew into something more. It also began to embrace a more varied patient population. It began with psychiatric patients. By the 1930s, it was being used to treat troubled adolescents. Over time, it was discovered that adventure therapy could also be used to improve family and marital functioning. More recently, the benefits of adventure therapy in addiction treatment have been discovered and researched leading the way for facilities to begin offering it.


There are some who have questioned whether or not adventure therapy promotes any efficacy as a modality for treatment whatsoever, but studies have shown that it can be quite effective. One study conducted early in the millennium showed that adventure therapy can be particularly effective among adolescents, delinquents, and those who are “emotionally or physically challenged.” This is quite the revelation as addiction is a disease with both physical and emotional (not to mention mental and spiritual) components. At the time of this study, however, it was concluded that more research was needed in order to make a full assessment. That brings us to a more recent study conducted in 2013, which lumped the effects of adventure therapy into several outcome categories. It was found that, to some extent, adventure therapy had the capacity to yield benefits concerning morality and spirituality, physical health (this is relevant considering that many forms of adventure therapy involve some level of exercise), academic performance, family & social development, and overall behavior. The second-highest number of measured outcomes concerned self-concept, indicating that adventure therapy has the capacity to increase the patient’s self-perception, self-control, and self-efficacy. The latter finding is especially important as these intra-personal elements are a major facet of addiction recovery.

It has also been determined that adventure therapy can help to decrease clients’ anxiety. Since there is usually a mild level of real or perceived risk involved in adventure activities, it is not uncommon that patients will have to learn how to face their fears in order for this therapy to be effective. As we consider that that anxiety is one of the major co-occurring disorders associated with drug and alcohol addiction, the benefit of adventure therapy grows.

Introduction to the 12-Step Program

The 12-Step Program is a journey of actions or choices designed to help an addict travel the road to recovery. This road to recovery involves realizing that one is powerless over addiction, and that only a power greater than oneself can restore one to sanity. Sanity is leaving the addiction behind to enjoy a full life. This is not done overnight. It is a journey that will last a lifetime.

Read below for an adapted version of the 12-Steps. These were rewritten by to include all addictions. The original 12-Steps are for alcoholics, and can be found at

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.

Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Step 7: Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.

Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.

Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Promises of the 12-Step Program

A.A. uses the book, Alcoholic Anonymous, as the textbook for learning the 12-Step program. You can download a copy of Alcoholics Anonymous, also known as the Big Book, by clicking here. In the Big Book there is a list of promises for every addict that follows the 12-Step program.

It is experienced by many that if an addict follows the 12-Steps on the road to recovery, then the 12-Promises are eventually fulfilled.

How to Get on the Road to Recovery

The road to recovery is easy to find. It takes a willingness to get sober and lead a normal life. Once a person has decided to seek recovery, there are actions to take towards that goal. The first action is to reach out to a program that will hold the addict accountable for recovery. Or find help through peer connection, family, or community groups. 

Contact a recovery center and talk with an admissions specialist to find the right program for the addict’s situation. Each addict has a different story. Underlying reasons for an addiction must be found and treated to keep sobriety. Choosing a recovery center with diversity, structure, and commitment will help with this process. If you feel like the 12 steps are not for you, then that it OK. Not every individual feels comfortable or can be forced into a program. You have to want it!

That’s why Northlake Recovery has options. Having a team behind you is an important part of the next steps you’ll be making. And our team is here to make sure that you are comfortable, and have the tools you need to take the right steps. 

Are you ready to take the first action in your recovery? Are you interested in the 12-Promises? Contact Northlake Recovery in South Florida and an admissions specialist will help you on the road to recovery. Call (561)-770-6616 now or visit online to speak with an admissions specialist anytime.

Leave a Reply