The Benefit of Outdoor Activities During the Treatment Process

There is a weekly fishing excursion that men and women who are in recovery participate in. Recently, staff member Eric V. took some photos and video with his phone that we wanted to share.

Our treatment center has long been aware of the benefit of staying active in recovery. We keep our recovering clients busy with daily outdoor activities that are:

  • physically challenging
  • spiritually enlightening
  • socially stimulating
  • culturally enriching

Weekly Fishing Excursion During Treatment

There is a weekly fishing excursion that men and women who are in recovery participate in. Recently, staff member Eric V. took some photos and video with his phone that we wanted to share.

When I spoke with the client “MP” who is featured reeling in a 50 lb White Sea Bass he told me that it was one of the best moments of his life. MP went on to describe what the sensation is like when he goes fishing:

“When I go fishing, all of my problems just go away. I am not thinking about drinking or using. I am not thinking about being in treatment. I am just thinking about reeling that fish in.

When I go fishing or any of the other activities like golfing, it gets me out of my head. I’m really living in the moment when I am doing those things. I feel the same way when I am exercising. It is not necessarily an escape from reality but an escape from the worries and troubles in your head.”

“RP” was also on the trip and is pictured. RP also caught a 32 lb White Sea Bass that day. RP says that he loves to go fishing because “it is a peaceful way to get out of the structured treatment environment on a Sunday afternoon.” RP also says that he likes being out on the water “because you never know what is down under the ocean below the surface.”

Bring the Body and the Mind Will Follow

Staff member Eric V loves to fish and takes our clients out for a fishing expedition every Sunday (you can read our in depth entry that discusses our weekly treatment center fishing expeditions). Eric recently discussed reasons why he thinks the outdoor activities are such an important part of the recovery process.

“I think the outdoor activities help the clients break out of their isolationism. Young people today are stuck in a computer and television type of mindset. Young people isolate so much that it makes it easier for them to get involved in drugs and alcohol. Drug and alcohol use is an isolating activity and the experience of using breeds loneliness and depression.

We get these kids outdoors and it changes their way of thinking. Sometimes we have to drag them at first, but ‘if you bring the body, then the mind will follow.’ Once we convince them to get out there and have some fun, they will realize what a great time they are having – then they realize that they are having fun sober.

Also, many of the clients have been using drugs and alcohol for so long that they suffer from anhedonia, which is an inability to experience pleasure from normal activities that are pleasurable to other people. This condition comes about as a result of the brain becoming conditioned to the spike of dopamine that is associated with drug abuse. Anhedonia is also known as ‘pleasure deafness.’

When we continually keep the clients sober and involved in stimulating activities that are fun and social, their brain adjusts to the new source of enjoyment and they begin to experience pleasure again. The sensation of reeling in a 50 pound fish on the open ocean is so rewarding that it is the kind of experience even the most anhedonic person will be monumentally affected by.”

For more information about the types of activities that Sober Living by the Sea’s clients participate in visit our rehab activities page, or you may be interested in our sober surfing classes or the sober soccer team.