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Risk Factors vs. Protective Factors: Treat Substance Abuse Problems Successfully

Why a Person's Past Doesn't Always Determine Their Future

While there are traditional risk and protective factors that play a role in determining a person’s susceptibility to certain behavioral, mental health, and substance abuse problems, these factors are not strictly determinate. Some individuals who have a large number of protective factors can still face these problems, just as an individual who has a large number of risk factors can be highly successful in life.

There are standard guidelines health professionals use to diagnose a variety of mental and behavioral disorders, and to treat substance abuse problems. Risk and protective factors range over a variety of domains, such as family, community, school, peer and individual.

What are risk factors?

A risk factor is an element in a person’s life that would influence them in rebelling or developing problems. Risk factors differ depending on the problem at hand, but the general list looks familiar.

Risk factors include:

  • Divorced parents
  • Predisposition to alcoholism or substance abuse
  • Sexual or physical abuse in family history
  • Family moved around a lot
  • Poor socio-economic status
  • Constant instability within the home
  • Unemployed parents
  • Lack of community programs

What are protective factors?

A protective factor is something that would generally “protect” or shield someone against behavioral, mental or substance abuse problems.

Protective factors include:

  • Family dynamic is supportive
  • Parents are still together
  • Engaged in community
  • Immediate people are socially and mentally healthy
  • Participate in school activities

These two kinds of factors are beneficial in the process of diagnosis because treatment can then involve addressing the conditions under which a certain factor applies, and work to remedy that condition. For instance, a person is at risk of exhibiting behavior associated with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) if they are not subject to rules or consequences within the home. Treatment for ODD, would then work on altering the environment by introducing strict ground rules and reasonable consequences. Individualized treatment includes understanding which risk and protective factors apply to a particular person. The goals of treatment vary according to the combination of factors.

Risk and protective factors are not always a reliable indication of a person’s susceptibility to behavioral or substance abuse problems.

Everyone struggles, anyone can have depression, and anyone can become an addict. There needs to be awareness that risk and protective factors are not the sole indicator of a person’s future. Anyone can have an issue, and parents can be blinded by “protection.” Generally, if a person has less protective factors and many risk factors they may be more likely to use drugs, skip school, and engage in destructive behaviors, but risk factors don’t always determine the troubled kids. Someone who has every risk factor against them can succeed despite the odds, and a person who is well protected is still susceptible to mental health and behavioral issues. A child can be involved in the church, play on the basketball team, get good grades, be “better off,” and still suffer from depression, anxiety, or substance abuse.

Identifying individual risk and protective factors can be useful in a wilderness therapy program.

Recognizing the individual risk and protective factors that apply to a person is helpful in determining the appropriate course of treatment. If a person has developed an issue primarily because of risk factors, a course of treatment would work to address ways to remedy and manage those factors. If a person has come to wilderness therapy despite having a large number of protective factors, then treatment would focus on addressing the other reasons why a person is suffering from a particular issue.

Wilderness therapy programs work to address both the external factors that contribute to a person’s issue, and the internal factors that cannot be addressed by a change in home environment. Individualized treatment is one of the reasons that wilderness therapy is so successful in assisting with behavioral, mental health, and to help and treat substance abuse problems.

Wilderness Therapy an effective Natural ADHD Treatment

Wilderness Adventure Therapy in the USA

Wilderness therapy is highly successful method of Natural ADHD Treatment for teens and young adults. The combination of the natural setting, holistic diet and focus on simple tasks can result in alleviating the symptoms underlying the disorder. Wilderness therapy also provides an individual with the tools needed to manage their aftercare.

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. ADHD manifests in many negative ways involving school performance, friendships, social interactions and behavior at home.

There are three types of ADHD:

  • Inattentive ADHD (formerly known as ADD)
  • Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD
  • Combined ADHD

Sufferers of ADHD have difficulty paying attention and staying focused. They can act out impulsively, without regard for consequences. They are often hyperactive, loud and exhibit extrovert behavior. Indicators vary with individual and environmental demands, but if symptoms remain persistent for an extended period of time it is possible that a person may suffer from ADHD.

Wilderness therapy is an effective tool in treating and managing ADHD.

Wilderness therapy provides a calming setting in which to teach teen and young adults behaviors, strategies and good habits that can make ADHD more manageable and less harmful. Holistic nutrition, meditation, physical activity and therapy are all components to an adventure based treatment program and have all been shown to have a positive impact on managing ADHD. In some cases, participants can show such marked improvement that they no longer exhibit the symptoms associated with the disorder.

Components to wilderness therapy that aid in treating and managing ADHD:

  • Physical activity. The physical challenges that participants face in wilderness therapy are often exhausting. Exercising outdoors is extremely beneficial to sufferers of ADHD. Sunshine, air, and exercise relieves stress, boosts mood, calms the mind and reduces feelings of aggression.
  • Simplified tasks. The wilderness therapy setting is without the distractions of daily life and the everyday tasks are simplified. Basic tasks are calming and by breaking down duties into simple, manageable parts, individuals can focus all of their attention on accomplishing the challenge at hand. Feeling accomplished, even in the completion of simple tasks, is a powerful component to a person’s ability to manage their symptoms.
  • Holistic diet. Nutrition and diet are significantly correlated to mental health and wellness. Eating the right foods—whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts—fuel the brain and body and eliminate many of the symptoms that underlie ADHD. The elimination of sugar from a diet is one of the single most important things to consider when managing hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention.
  • Meditation and self-reflection. Activities such as silent hiking, in which the participant focuses on self-reflection, cultivate the skills to concentrate and be quiet. These skills are highly useful in managing ADHD and increase successes made post-treatment.

Medication and ADHD

Medication can help to lessen the symptoms associated with ADHD, but it is not always the right choice for everyone. While medication can improve a person’s concentration, impulse control and ability follow through with tasks, it still only treats the symptoms. A change in lifestyle and being educated about alternative solutions and ways to self-manage ADHD may be a better route. ADHD may be treated with medication, but the long-term mental and physical implications are not yet fully known. Some known side effects can include: psychiatric problems, heart related conditions and interference in brain development.

Decisions about medication and ADHD treatment are individualized and depend on a persons’ unique situation. These decisions need to be made by trusted medical and healthcare professionals. Wilderness therapy can offer an alternative to a treatment that relies solely on medication. In wilderness therapy, participants are not taken off medication prescribed by their doctors, but are presented with additional alternative ways in which to manage and is considered a more healthy and natural ADHD treatment.

Wilderness Therapy Programs: Why Are Teens and Young Adults Separated?

Camps for Troubled Young Adults in the USA

Why Are Teens and Young Adults Separated in a Wilderness Therapy Program?

Troubled Youth Program in the USA Different stages in life require different approaches to treatment. Wilderness therapy programs separate participants into groups of teens and young adults in order to address specific needs related to maturity and development levels. The teen group ranges in age from 10-17, and the young adult group ranges in age from 18-30. Although treatment is personalized to an individual’s particular maturity rate, there are certain general characteristics that differentiate teens from young adults. Teens Teens may not yet fully recognize the immediate consequences of their actions. They are reluctant to change and do not understand the long term effects that their behavior and substance abuse will have. They may also not perceive themselves as being responsible for their issues or for their role in their own treatment. Quick to blame parents, teens may find it difficult to accept the reasons that have landed them in wilderness therapy, and may initially fight the process more than a young adult. It may also be the first time away from home, and in addition to feeling angry and resentful for being in wilderness therapy, they may also feel frightened and anxious. Therapists helping teens adapt to the wilderness therapy setting need to be mindful of this and may need to exhibit extra sensitivity in the situation. Young Adults On the other hand, young adults are more aware of the real life implications that behavioral and substance abuse problems can have. Many have begun college, or started to live outside the family home. Because they have more responsibilities, and have began to live independently, they are better able to recognize that the choices they are making are leading them down the wrong path. Young adults are often more welcoming of the idea of wilderness therapy and are looking for a way to change. The desire to change is a key factor to successful recovery. Young adults are also further along in their stages of addiction. Before coming to a wilderness therapy program, many have been through other treatment programs. Once someone has gone through any chemical dependency or substance abuse treatment of any kind, they acquire a knowledge base that cannot be ignored. A future choice to engage in negative activities comes with an awareness of the consequences for such choices. Tailoring treatment approaches to maturity level is a large factor in the success of a program. Because development and maturity rates are so individualized in teens and young adults, an effective wilderness therapy program will build treatment programs that align with a person’s mental development. For instance, one 21 year old may have already experienced college, living away from home and has a large amount of independence. Another 27 year old may still be living within the family home and have relatively little experience with making personal choices and living as an independent adult. These two individuals, although in the same group, require considerably different approaches to their treatment. Wilderness therapy focuses on individual needs while following the same basic overall structure. Wilderness therapy programs are an effective way to treat the behavioral, mental and substance abuse issues that both teens and young adults face. Separation into age groups, combined with treatment tailored to individual maturity levels, is highly effective in generating lasting improvements. Call Rites of Passage to learn more at (800)794-0980.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder Treatment and Parenting

Why Changing Your Parenting is More Important Than Changing Your Child's Behavior

The underlying factors that contribute to behavioral disorders, such as oppositional defiant disorder, stem heavily from the home environment. But, with the right guidance and tools in place, the solutions to these problems can begin with a new approach to parenting and the family dynamic. Oppositional defiant disorder treatment, includes many contributing factors and solutions, but most often, starts in the home.

What is ODD?

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is a childhood disorder characterized by an ongoing pattern of negative and hostile behavior directed toward parents and authority figures. Children suffering from ODD are angry, defiant and stubborn, but may not see themselves as so. Rather, they view their behavior as a reaction to unreasonable demands or circumstances. There are eight main symptoms of ODD, of which a person must exhibit at least four, over an extended period of at least six months.

These symptoms are:

  • Frequent loss of temper
  • Argues with authority figures
  • Actively defies or refuses to comply with rules and requests
  • Deliberately performs actions to aggravate or annoy people
  • Angry and resentful
  • Spiteful and vindictive
  • Sensitive or “touchy” to what others have to say
  • Blames others for mistakes or misbehavior

ODD is a multifaceted problem involving a combination of influences, circumstances and biological components. There is no sole factor that causes ODD, but the single most contributing influence is family and home life. Thus, any treatment for ODD must focus on both the individual and the family.

Family factors and ODD

Symptoms of ODD are typically more apparent within the home environment and in interactions with parents or persons whom the individual knows well. Generally, the behavior may not initially be exhibited in school, clinical, or other social settings, but over time it extends to these areas as well.

Contributing risk factors within the home include (but are not limited to):

  • Lack of supervision
  • Abuse or neglect
  • Harsh or inconsistent discipline
  • Lack of positive involvement
  • Family history of ODD or conduct problems
  • Financial difficulties
  • Troubled marriage between parents
  • Frequent change or instability

Changing the home environment is crucial to ensuring lasting results.

Because many parents may feel that they are at the end of their rope, and simply do not have the tools or knowledge to overcome the situation, children who exhibit the behaviors of ODD are often met back with the same hostility and anger. Wilderness therapy works with the parents, while providing much needed space, to make the changes needed to allow for the successes made in the program to continue forward when the participant returns home. Parents will have the opportunity to communicate weekly with a therapist about the progress of their child and to discuss ways in which they can make positive contributions and provide the appropriate encouragement and support.

When dealing with a defiant or oppositional child, all parents must:

  • Model positive behavior. Children and teens mimic the behavior of their parents, so setting a good example to model is crucial. Learning appropriate ways to communicate and deal with personal stresses are tools that can be worked on between both parent and child. An aftercare plan may include family counselling.
  • Be consistent. Set up a scheduled routine, including chores and responsibilities that a child has the opportunity to succeed at. Establish clearly communicated consequences for negative choices, and stick to them.
  • Establish boundaries. All children and teens test the limits of authority, but setting ground rules and reinforcing them with reasonable consequences establishes respect.
  • Communicate effectively. Recognize and praise positive behaviors and discipline the negative. Being able to discuss things in a rational, productive and specific way is important. Avoid power struggles and negative speech.
  • Work as a team. A family is a team, and everyone needs to be on the same page. Build in time together to develop a relationship.

The role of the parent in the continued success of the child’s aftercare is one of persistent involvement and support. Participants who return home from wilderness therapy are eager to continue on their newfound path. However, this success depends heavily on parenting. Parents must take an active role in making changes to the home environment if negative behaviors are not to return. There is no overnight solution. Old habits die hard, and parents and caregivers need to expect setbacks and relapses. The key is to have the skills and tools in place to manage these situations when they arise.

Wilderness therapy focuses on equipping parents with the abilities and strategies needed to continue managing a teen or young adult when they return home, resulting in a re-established healthy relationship between child and parent, and an effective form of oppositional defiant disorder treatment.

Weight Loss Treatment Program: Obesity and Overall Health

Obesity: Dangerous to More Than Just Your Physical Health

Medical and healthcare professionals now agree that mental illness and obesity are closely related. The mental and emotional side effects that follow from obesity are just as detrimental as the long-term health repercussions. Treatment must focus on the underlying mental issues that cause, and stem from, obesity, rather than solely on only weight loss. An effective weight loss treatment program such as wilderness therapy which encompasses both body and mind is typically the best approach to consider.

Suffering from obesity causes an individual to be more susceptible to developing related mental health problems because many of the underlying factors are the same. Those who suffer from obesity have an increased 30% risk of having a mental illness. Mental illness increases the risk of obesity by two to three times. More dangerously, a person diagnosed with a serious mental illness has an increased risk of almost 40% of dying from an obesity related issue, like diabetes or coronary heart disease.

The mental health outcomes related to obesity can be more dangerous than the long-term medical problems that arise.

Being overweight comes with a range of emotional issues that bring about mental illness. Specifically, obesity can lead to depression, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, anxiety, and many other problems.

The emotional side effects of obesity include:

  • Low self esteem
  • Lack of motivation
  • Lack of desire to be physically active
  • Feelings of isolation
  • Impulses to cause self harm

The connection between mental illness and obesity can be a vicious cycle.

Obesity and mental illness relate to each another in the way that they both contribute to, and result from, the other. Depression is linked to weight gain, which can lower self-esteem, in turn increasing feelings of depression and continuing the cycle. Just as obesity can worsen the symptoms associated with depression, treating obesity is a preventative measure against depression. The same is true in the other direction. The side effects of depression are contributors to obesity, but treating depression is a preventative measure against obesity. Thus, any treatment of obesity that focuses solely on weight loss and does not address this connection will not have long-term success.

A successful treatment program must look at treating the underlying emotional issues associated with obesity.

The mind and body work in tandem, and the healthy management of one must include the other. Wilderness therapy is a multi-dimensional approach to treatment that addresses the underlying obesity issues through a combination of physical activity, holistic nutrition and therapy. The all-at-once approach to treating physical and mental issues at the same time is significantly more successful because the positive changes made to the mind impact the body, and visa versa.

The elements of wilderness therapy work together to produce positive results in a peer supported environment. In wilderness therapy, weight loss and physical health improvements are the outcomes of improved mental health. Improved mental health is also an outcome of the outdoor physical activity that comes with an adventure-based program. The wilderness setting lends itself to a multi-dimensional therapeutic approach because of the kind of environment that it is. It offers comprehensive and effective solutions to treating obesity and mental health by recognizing that the two are closely related, and by educating participants on ways to manage both issues together moving forward.

Wilderness therapy is an effective weight loss treatment program and encompasses treatment for both the body and the mind. Call Rites of Passage Wilderness at (800)794-0980 to learn more.

What You Need to Know About New Trends in Marijuana Use

Long Term Alcohol Rehab Treatment Program in the NW

“Dabbing,” a relatively new trend in marijuana use, has taken the drug to an extremely dangerous level. What has often been considered “the lesser of the drug evils,” marijuana use now has the potential for serious harm. A discussion with a teen or young adult about their use of marijuana must now not only include questions of whether an individual is using it, but also about how they are.

What is dabbing?

Known by the alternative names earwax, shatter, and honey oil, “dabbing” refers to butane hash oil, a marijuana extract that is almost pure THC. Butane hash oil (BHO) is made through a process of extraction in which marijuana is treated with butane, a solvent that extracts the THC compounds from the flower. Evaporating away the butane leaves only the resin, a viscous, amber-colored, waxy substance that resembles caramel or thick honey. What’s left over is a product that is 70-90% THC (average premium grade marijuana has approximately 10-25%). BHO is then vaporized, either in a pan or by using a dabbing pipe. A needle-like tool, or “dabber,” is used to grab the oil and apply it to whatever is being used to smoke it. Taking a “dab” results in a concentrated hit of extremely potent THC.

The extraction process used to make BHO is dangerous and deadly.

The process of butane extraction is not in itself dangerous nor unhealthy. In fact, butane extraction is a common technique used in the food industry to extract oil from peanuts and vitamins from vegetables, among other uses. However, teens and young adults attempting to make BHO typically use products that contain dangerous chemicals or solvents if ingested. Butane lighter fluid, a commonly used product, contains multiple chemicals that can be left behind in the process and consumed by the user.

Butane, propane, acetone, and other products used to extract THC concentrates are explosive and highly flammable. People who are already abusing drugs, and who have no technical knowledge often perform the process, which can be a deadly combination.

The health risks associated with cannabis use are amplified by “dabbing.”

What was once considered a relatively harmless drug, marijuana use now contributes to serious mental issues. Over time, psychoactive effects are the results of the severe impact on brain chemistry.

These negative impacts of BHO use include:

  • Severe agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Respiratory problems
  • Severely impaired reaction time and motor skills
  • Psychosis and schizophrenia
  • Paranoia and panic
  • Heart palpitations
  • Intensified feelings of depression
  • Cognitive impairment

The common perception that marijuana is a safe, benign drug has to shift because of the new ways that people are finding to ingest it. THC levels are at the highest they have ever been in teens and young adults. Professionals in the field of chemical dependency and mental health are seeing a rise both the number of issues and the severity in teens and young adults who “dab.” It is important to be aware of the trends surrounding drug use, and to talk openly with adolescents about the realities of prolonged use. Open discussion and communication is key to preventing an individual from beginning down a very dangerous path.

Treatment for Substance Abuse & Behavioral Issues in Teens

Why the 'Boot Camp' Approach Doesn't Work

Punitive methods are not very successful in treating teens and young adults who are struggling with substance abuse and behavioral issues. Punishment as the basis for treatment fails to focus on the underlying issues that contribute to certain conditions, such as ODD, ADHD, anger problems and drug addiction. A more effective therapeutic approach is a non-punitive method that seeks to educate and empower individuals to become responsible for their own success. For an alternate method to assist with treatment for substance abuse & behavioral issues in teens, aside from boot camp, consider the following.

The punitive approach

Punitive programs are punishment-based and attempt to correct behavior by using fear and intimidation to establish authority and set rules. Certain “boot-camp,” “military style” or “tough love” programs employ this type of approach. This confrontational technique focuses on changing negative behavior by establishing strict parameters for acceptable conduct and enforcing negative consequences when those constraints are broken.

This kind of approach is much less effective for a number of reasons. It does not address the underlying causes of mental and behavioral issues. It does not provide individuals with an opportunity to develop the skills needed to self-manage their symptoms. Teens and young adults who are subject to punitive discipline can be more likely to develop feelings of resentment, distrust, anger and hostility. By using techniques such as ultimatums as a vehicle for altering behavior, treatment does not focus on personal growth and develop, and thus does lend itself to long-term success. In punitive programs fewer people complete treatment, relapse rates are higher, and addiction and behavioral issues can even be aggravated.

The benefits of a non-punitive approach

Non-punitive approaches to treatment for substance abuse and behavioral issues are much more successful in seeing lasting results. They are predicated on the idea that treatment is a learning opportunity for an individual to develop the skills to thrive in the world. Treatment is not a punishment for negative behavior. An approach that is centered on personal empowerment and growth is preferred over an approach that takes a hard line because it focuses on adjusting defective thinking as well as behavior.

In a non-punitive approach to therapy, teens and young adults:

  • Respond to reward based incentives
  • Are involved in their own decision making
  • Build tools to cope with temptations and struggles of daily life
  • Learn to overcome challenges and accept consequences
  • Build relationships and develop interpersonal skills
  • Learn to communicate
  • Experience independence and self-reliance

It is important to look for a program that is non-punitive when choosing the right course of treatment for a teen or young adult struggling with behavioral or substance abuse issues. A positive reward-based program accomplishes much more than a punishment-based program. Long-term effects see participants of non-punitive programs being able to better manage their individual issues and become productive, positive adults.

When information regarding a more effective approach and treatment for substance abuse & behavioral issues in teens is needed, contact Rites of Passage Wilderness at (800)794-0980.

 

 

Wilderness Therapy: What Parents Can Do To Make Treatment a Success

Wilderness therapy is most effective if parents take an active role in their child’s recovery. The role of the parent in the process is continuous: it begins with the initial phone call to a wilderness therapy program and ends with a continued commitment to an aftercare plan. 

Initializing the process is only the first step. Involvement during the program requires that a parent communicate effectively with both their child and the wilderness therapist to maximize the benefits of the experience. Parents will have the opportunity to communicate weekly with a therapist about the progress of their child and to discuss ways in which they can make positive contributions and provide the appropriate encouragement and support.

Letter-writing is an important communication tool utilized by wilderness therapy programs. One of the ways in which parents are involved during the program is through the writing and exchanging of letters. With the help of a wilderness therapist, parents and participants are asked to exchange meaningful correspondences that address the reasons why a person has ended up in the program. This tool pushes the participant to understand the consequences of their actions and allows for them and their family to begin the process of healing. There are essential items that participants and parents must both include in these correspondences if they are to be impactful. 

A letter written by a participant may include:

  • How they ended up in the program
  • Identifying past wrongs
  • The ways they are improving on treatment goals
  • Behaviors that affected their family
  • An apology

A letter written by a parent could address:

  • Examples of how the participant’s negative behavior has affected the family
  • The repercussions of past actions
  • Their own role in the situation
  • Plans for restructuring the home life
  • How they can offer support
  • Taking responsibility

These letters can sometimes be difficult to write and to receive as they are meant to center on deep issues that may have never before been addressed. It is important that these letters are impactful and that the dialogue revolves around addressing both problems and solutions. This exchange works to open up the lines of communication and can serve as a foundation for a healthy relationship moving forward. 

Parental involvement in an aftercare plan is essential to continuing on the right path. Taking an active role in the health of a child means being accountable for making changes in the home environment. During the time that the child or adolescent is participating in the program there are many things a parent can do to prepare for their homecoming. 

In preparing for an aftercare plan parents should:

  • Read up on relevant literature
  • Restructure the household ground rules
  • Address specific family dynamics
  • Seek personal therapy
  • Set up family counselling sessions
  • Find support systems 

Parental non-involvement in the wilderness therapy process can cause a participant to relapse when they return home. Parents must be willing to contribute to an aftercare plan because in many cases the home dynamic will need to change as much as the negative behavior of their son or daughter. A parent must recognize their role in the recovery process in order to safeguard their child from re-engaging in negative behaviors and activities.  

The role of the parent in the process of therapy and recovery is one of continued involvement; the long-term success of the child depends on it. Wilderness therapy can provide parents and caregivers the tools they need to help ensure that the positive changes made in the program continue upon returning to home life. 

Call Rites of Passage Wilderness at (800)794-0980 to learn about our Wilderness therapy programs, and the recovery abilities of nature.

Improving Nutrition thorough a Wilderness Therapy Program

Weight Loss Camp for Teens in North America - USA

How Improved Nutrition through a Wilderness Therapy Program Leads to Improved Behavior

Diet and nutrition are key components to a wilderness therapy program. It is a fact that our ability to think rationally and make good choices is affected by the foods we eat. Poor diet and nutrition can contribute to a host of behavioral and mental afflictions. It can also be mistaken for them. A person suffering from poor nutrition can manifest the same symptoms as ADHD, autism, depression and oppositional defiant disorder, among others. Integrating a structured meal plan based on holistic nutrition into a wilderness therapy program is crucial to recovery. 

Fast food, soda, candy and ready-to-eat meals are part of society’s daily norm. While eating these types of foods may be convenient and temporarily satisfying, the consumption of them on a regular basis can be downright dangerous. Processed foods, food additives (such as MSG), food dyes, high sugar intake and nutrient deficiencies have all been shown to have a direct negative impact on a person’s behavior and cognitive abilities. 

Poor diet and nutrition can result in:

  • Aggression and violent behavior
  • Hyperactivity
  • Low concentration levels
  • Irritability or mood swings
  • Short attention span
  • Digestion problems
  • Decreased cognitive abilities
  • Fatigue
  • Drowsiness
  • Palpitations

Wilderness therapy includes a nutrition and diet program that promotes healthy holistic eating. Participants need to be well nourished for the physical and emotional challenges that wilderness therapy brings. The brain and the body require specific nutrients to properly function and holistic whole foods can best provide this. Holistic food is unprocessed, without additives, artificial enrichment or fortification and aids in healing and detoxing the body from processed foods and other unnatural chemicals. 

The dietary program associated with a wilderness therapy regulates the participant’s system through routine. Over just a short period of time, a correlation can be seen between proper nutrition and improvements in behavior. 

Simple healthy holistic food can benefit a person in the following way:

  • An increase in energy
  • Balanced mood
  • Ability to make sound decisions
  • Stronger will power
  • A healthier physical appearance (glowing skin and hair, muscle tone, clear eyes)

Wilderness therapy provides the foundation for making better dietary choices moving forward. The overreaching goal is to maintain and build upon the habits learned in wilderness therapy. A crucial part of continued recovery will involve maintaining the healthy eating habits that come with the wilderness therapy experience. A change in the dietary plan at home is the best way to ensure these positive changes are long lasting.

Behavioral and mental issues are exasperated by poor diet. Wilderness therapy works to educate participants on the benefits of making healthy dietary choices and the impact it can have to their own mental and behavioral wellbeing. While participants may initially be reluctant to embrace a holistic diet, the positive changes they notice in their bodies motivate them to continue the practices learned in a wilderness therapy program to make healthier future choices involving diet and nutrition.

For insight on nutrition and to learn about how truly beneficial a wilderness therapy program can be, call Rites of Passage Wilderness at (800)794-0980.

The Shock of Simplification – and Why Wilderness Therapy Works.

Wilderness Therapy Programs

Wilderness therapy puts all participants on equal ground. Upon arriving at the program, all unessential material items are relinquished by participants and everyone is given the same set of clothing and gear. In this way, participants are like a blank canvas enabling them to get to the root of the issues that have brought them to wilderness therapy.

Participants have the freedom to be themselves.

Items such as jewellery, clothing, snacks, iPods, phones, etc., are all given up when participants arrive at the program. They are no longer able to identify themselves with a specific group through their image. Self-expression has to come from within. The process of simplifying oneself can be a shock to some and the basic gear and food provided can be difficult to accept at first, but they soon learn that it is all they need. Through critical self-reflection and guidance from wilderness therapy staff, a change in priorities begins to emerge and over the course of the program the initial attachment that they felt to their material possessions disappears.

Boundaries are removed.

With every participant being issued the same set of basic gear, food rations and clothing, no one is “above” or “below” any one else. It is no longer about what group one identified with before coming into the wilderness therapy program. Rather it is about these individuals who have to get through this particular experience together. Relationships are formed between people who may not have associated with one another back home due to belonging to different social groups or, simply, because of what they wore. As a result, self- reflections are shared more openly and honestly, allowing the healing process to take place.

What is important becomes re-prioritized.

The wilderness therapy experience sheds light on what really matters to a person. Upon returning home, participants no longer feel the same attachment to material possessions or belonging to a certain group that they once did. What they take away from the program is the ability to develop meaningful, positive relationships with peers and family and the ability to be confident and self-reliant. 

Call Rites of Passage Wilderness at (800)794-0980 to learn more about wilderness therapy, and how it can help to simplify your life.

Rites of Passage Wilderness