You might be wondering how adventure therapy can help young adult addiction. Young adults can benefit significantly from adventure therapy, especially given the prevalence of substance abuse and addiction within this age group.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported in 2018 that one-third of all young adults (ages 18-25) reported binge drinking in the past month. Additionally, two out of 5 reported using an illicit drug within the past year. The American Addiction Centers conducted their own survey and found the following regarding 18-25 year old’s in the United States:
- 1 in 10 young adults has an alcohol use disorder
- 1 in 13 young adults has an illicit drug use disorder
- 1 in 7 young adults has a substance use disorder
The young adult population in the United States is no stranger to drugs and alcohol, especially considering the vast majority of people within this age range attend college. Colleges and universities are notorious for substance abuse and experimentation, with binge-drinking and prescription pill use constantly on the rise in these settings. Additionally, young adults between the ages of 18-25 are in a developmental stage where their brains have not yet fully matured, leaving them susceptible to being impulsive, making poor decisions, and not thoroughly considering consequences prior to doing something. Of course, not all young adults share these traits, however it remains a common risk factor associated with substance abuse within this population.
Despite the risk factors that may contribute to a young adult’s substance use disorder, it is important to know that there is help available for these individuals. And, one of the most popular types of therapy that has proven to be highly effective for this age group is adventure therapy
What is Adventure Therapy?
Adventure therapy is a type of psychotherapy that utilizes activity, the outdoors, and community to help treat the disease of addiction. The activities conducted in adventure therapy are designed to not only be fun, but also challenging and thought-provoking. Those who participate in this type of therapy, especially young adults, can benefit from the environment that adventure therapy is conducted in as well as the types of activities they will participate in.
Types of adventure therapy include the following:
- Martial arts
- White water rafting
- Rock climbing
- Music therapy
- Art therapy
What Challenges Does the Young Adult Community Face?
The young adult community, meaning those ages 18-25, often face challenges that are specific to their age group. Simply based on their age alone, one of these challenges is the development of one or more mental health conditions. That is because the vast majority of mental illness presents itself in the mid-to-late teenage years. Those young adults who are not connected to the appropriate resources for their mental health may take it upon themselves to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol or begin suffering consequences of their illness that impact their daily lives. Additional challenges that the young adult community faces include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Moving away from home for the first time
- Intense and constant peer pressure
- Social media pressure
- Financial challenges related to student loans, low-paying jobs, not yet having a degree/experience, etc.
These are just some of the challenges that many 18-25 year-olds face during this part of their lives. Some even experience these challenges simultaneously with others, especially if they go through one or more traumatic events common within their age group, such as sexual assault or major vehicle accident. Unfortunately, because of these and other challenges, it can be extremely easy for young adults to start drinking or doing drugs to cope with these experiences. Any type of substance abuse, even casual, weekend-substance abuse, can quickly lead to the development of addiction, which is fatal if left untreated.
How Adventure Therapy Can Help Young Adult Addiction
Luckily, however, addiction is a disease that can be treated. Within the young adult community, one of the most popular ways to help treat this disease is through adventure therapy. Of course, those receiving treatment for an addiction are likely also participating in other types of therapy (such as individual therapy, group counseling, behavioral, therapy, etc.). But, when adventure therapy is added to the mix, many individuals in this age group find great success in their recovery goals and get back to feeling happy and alive.
So, how adventure therapy can help young adult addiction? Consider the following about adventure therapy:
- Physical activity — Studies show that physical activity, especially physical activity that is conducted outdoors, helps release endorphins and other neurotransmitters that promote a positive, happy, and content mood. Therefore, engaging in hiking or canoeing or any other outdoor activity common in adventure therapy can help get those specific neurotransmitters moving, allowing for improved mood. With improved mood comes a decrease in symptoms associated with mental illnesses like depression and anxiety.
- Interpersonal interactions — Young adults are usually highly social beings. Many of those who are in recovery from a substance use disorder may not have been focused on their social standing as much as other young adults, as they have been preoccupied with their use. But, participating in activities like camping, ropes courses, and rafting can help push these young adults out of their comfort zones and communicate with one another. The more communication young adults have with one another, the more bonding can develop and the more effective their therapy becomes.
- Skill building — The types of therapies that are conducted in adventure therapy are those that are capable of helping young adults build necessary skills. For example, rock climbing can help build self-confidence and resilience, while yoga can help promote patience and self-reflection. Keep in mind that young adults who have been battling substance use disorders often do not have a strong foundation of skills already in place, which is why having an outlet to build them in is so beneficial.
Adventure therapy gives young adults the opportunity to get outside, get moving, and physically begin changing their lives for the better.
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