Do Drug Rehab Clinics Actually Make Drugs Look ‘Cool?’It is widely acknowledged that acceptance in peer groups is a powerful force during adolescence. These groups provide an important developmental point of reference through which adolescents gain insight into the world outside of their families. Peers are influential and inspiring—in both positive and negative directions. Success of the peer group approach in a rehabilitation setting depends on the context under which it is employed. Drug rehab clinics, while they seem effective, can have drawbacks as well.
Drawbacks of a Clinical Setting
One concern of a clinical rehab setting is that it surrounds addicts with other addicts. In such a setting youth see their peers as other drug users. They can glamorize and validate the behaviour. There is a natural tendency to want to fit in and identify with peers—other addicts who share a similar experience. Upon completing a clinical program, most adolescents find themselves engaging in the same damaging activities. This is due to a combination of the peer dynamic reinforced in rehab as well as returning to familiar and destructive peer situations.
Advantages of Wilderness Therapy
The positive influences of peer dynamics in wilderness therapy are manifested in many ways. Under this approach, each person has a different issue and is thereby exposed to different challenges. What bonds participants is their accomplishment of challenging daily activities and their transition into self-reliant adulthood, not the problems that they each have.
An important part of a wilderness therapy program is the strategic conversation. Participants are only allowed to talk during group discussion or with their therapist/leader. Group discussion centers on predetermined topics that participants have had to reflect on during the day. This allows for honest and productive conversation that is not centered on someone’s problem. Instead, discussion will focus on self-realizations that everyone can learn from.
In some programs, once it is established a participant can be accountable to himself, he then becomes accountable to others as a peer mentor. A peer mentor is a positive contributor to the peer dynamic of wilderness therapy. Peer mentoring is exercised in varying degrees from behaviour modelling to direct peer interaction and involvement.
Approaching the peer-dynamic in this way results in the re-structuring of both thought and behaviour patterns that are likely to carry forward upon returning to a normal living situation. Those who complete the program make better choices, are less co-dependent and actively choose a positive path for themselves.
For more information about the advantages of wilderness therapy over drug rehab clinics, contact Rites of Passage Wilderness at (800)794-0980.