RecreationThe concept that addiction rehabilitation programs have to be uncomfortable and exhaustively difficult is an old regimen that stems from the now outdated and disproved idea that the way to rehabilitate someone from drug and alcohol addiction was to punish them.  It was also thought back then that people who abused drugs and alcohol were inherently different people than those who didn’t engage in drug addiction, and that they should be punished for that.  These concepts have long since been disproved as being inaccurate, and newer and more successful rehabilitation models, and techniques, like recreation, have come to the surface that is already rehabilitating more people at lower relapse rates than many of the older methods ever did.

One such method is applying a small amount of recreation to one’s rehabilitation experience.  This is something that was mostly left out of rehab for centuries but is now an important part.  By this is not meant a lot of recreating, as beating addiction indeed is a lot of work and takes a lot of time. Honestly speaking there is something very therapeutic about spending just an hour a day doing something pleasant and recreational, and recovering addicts have experienced significant relief from being able to do just that for a short time each day, usually at night right before lights out.

Today recreation therapy and the simple use of recreation as a part of a rehab program is an integral component of many different inpatient addiction treatment programs. Under the guidance and coaching of staff members, recreational activities can include something entirely non-addiction related like sports, table games, cards, outdoor excursions, etc.  Recreation can also involve theme-based games too, such as games that would build on group problem-solving capabilities, learn to trust others and oneself, asking for help from someone. This includes having the ability to confront compulsive behavior of one kind or another.

Either way, recreation is quite valuable to any rehab program.  Some of the types of recreational activities that are included in rehab programs are:

  • Physical fitness center activities
  • Aerobic activities
  • Team-building activities
  • Team sports
  • Trust activities
  • Music therapy
  • Nature activities
  • Relaxation
  • Arts and crafts
  • Leisure education and lectures
  • Social activities
  • Board games
  • Table games
  • Outdoor trips

An Intrinsic Part of Recovery

Recreation as an element to improve a rehabilitation experience is a relatively new subject.  What was noticed was that in the 1980s and 1990s, rehab programs that pushed a drill sergeant type of attitude on recovering addicts were unsuccessful.  Rehab centers were experiencing dropout rates the likes of which had never been seen before.  Shortly afterward, a complete 180-degree turn was applied to some rehab organizations, and the results were highly beneficial.

Since then, recreation has been an intrinsic, if limited, part of any rehab and recovery organization’s program.  It is crucial.  After a long day of one-on-one counseling sessions, group therapy, classes, relapse prevention, courses, life skills, physical wellness, and electives, a recovering addict is exhausted and mentally drained.  The best thing that he or she could do at this point before calling it a night is engaging in some activities for a bit with his or her peers.  This is now being applied in rehab centers all across the nation.

Recreation Therapy at Serenity

The program at Serenity makes an inclusion for recreation on a daily basis.  Some days, the recreation segment will be even longer than others, as clients will be taken on an excursion of some kind or brought out to partake in a local community event or activity, (all chaperoned of course).  Recreation is offered in many different ways at Serenity so that different clients of different tastes can pick something that suits them all.  Serenity offers options like the ones listed above and then some.  One, in particular, that has caught a lot of interest is gardening.

In addition to naturally producing fresh food that tastes good and promotes a healthy lifestyle for the body and the mind, gardening helps our clients learn skills that they can then take and use after they complete our rehab program. As those clients who partake in this recreational activity plant different crops, they learn a useful skill and can step out of their addiction problem and do something else unrelated to a change.  Gardening has a unique calming effect on it as well, and it would seem that there was something about growing plants that have a substantial impact on individuals in recovery.

The Benefits of Recreation Therapy

Recreation therapy brings about a lot of beneficial effects in recovering addicts.  For example, recreation promotes:

  • Self-determination: Addicts in recovery can apply themselves entirely to an activity and do their best.
  • Intrinsic Motivation: This is the effect that recreational activities have of providing a sense of intense excitement, interest, and relaxation in a recovering addict.
  • Perception of Manageable and Resolvable Challenge: This shows that recreation presents a small challenge, (like a board game with another peer), and gives the incentive to succeed.
  • Enjoyment: This is beneficial as merely the feeling that recreation creates an effect of fun, positive experience for the participator can bring about forward progress.

Recreation therapy is highly beneficial in the recovery environment, and it has produced wonders since its inception.  Now for the first time, recreation is indeed an essential part of the recovery experience, and Serenity is proud to include it.

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