At Gateway Foundation, we aim to promote the value and enjoyment of a sober lifestyle. Recovery and treatment require significant commitment, but your time in rehabilitation should remind you of the freedom you can experience without substances or alcohol.
Recreational therapy teaches clients how to enjoy activities and practice self-care. We tailor therapeutic recreation to emotional, physical and mental healing, encouraging lifestyle changes after you complete treatment.
What is therapeutic recreation? What types of activities and benefits does it entail? Discover how recreational therapy can help those with addiction and substance use disorders.
Recreational therapy can benefit anyone, including pediatric patients, teenagers, young adults, older adults and everyone in between. It’s particularly helpful for those seeking to reduce stress, depression and anxiety, or build confidence and social skills. This type of treatment can benefit those struggling with:
For those struggling with drug or alcohol misuse, recreation is often the furthest thing from their mind. However, we promote recreation during treatment to increase physical activity, problem-solving skills, stress management abilities and social interaction.
As our clients relax, engage and increase physical movement, they discover or reignite a passion for healthy outlets and interests. Therapeutic recreation treatment promotes sober fun to help individuals find value in remaining on the path to long-term recovery.
We can tailor our recreational therapy to each client’s unique needs to fit their long-term lifestyle goals. Incorporating activities into your rehabilitation plan enhances your physical, emotional, social and cognitive development. Engaging in activities can also offer several other benefits:
Rehabilitation is a comprehensive process involving a strategic framework and structure. For this reason, a blended approach is generally ideal with recreational therapy, just like many other addiction therapies. Therapeutic recreation is often effective when combined with an extensive treatment program of evidence-based techniques.
For instance, therapeutic recreation might accompany or follow trauma-informed therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, relapse prevention or other methods involved in a client’s treatment plan. A mental health professional may encourage you to try out multiple recreational activities to see what works best with your recovery process.
When pursuing addiction therapy for yourself or a loved one, consider the available recreational therapy programs and how they can benefit your unique needs or interests. At Gateway Foundation, clients have the opportunity to participate in various therapeutic recreation programs, discover new talents and make the most of their time in rehabilitation.
By stepping out of your comfort zone and engaging in new activities — or those you previously enjoyed — you can start to decrease your reliance on drugs or alcohol and focus on a healthier, more positive avenue.
Gateway’s recreational therapy for drug addiction in Chicago can benefit treatment in various ways. Exercise, physical activity and mindfulness-based practices can provide the following physical and mental advantages for addiction recovery.
Exercise can reduce the desire for nicotine, alcohol and other drugs. For example, if someone who wishes to quit smoking is only given a nicotine replacement, they may gain weight due to an increase in appetite. Using aerobic exercise as an adjunct treatment for substance use disorders can increase abstinence significantly.
Because the body is gradually relearning to function without drugs or alcohol, mood swings are common during substance withdrawal and recovery. For instance, a client may experience a euphoric sensation, then feel depressed a few minutes later.
Consistent physical activity can improve mood since it stimulates the release of endorphins — hormones in the brain that block pain perception and boost feelings of well-being. Even a brief workout can dramatically affect endorphin release and overall mood.
Regular physical activity through sports or outdoor endeavors boosts your body’s energy levels. Exercise raises the nutrients and oxygen flowing to your muscles. It also helps blood move faster through your heart.
Over time, your muscles build endurance and grow stronger. Higher strength and energy levels make it easier to perform daily tasks, rebuild relationships and resist the compulsion to use substances.
Therapeutic activities can alleviate stress by releasing feel-good endorphins and chemicals from the brain. Activities like making art and exercising also reduce levels of stress hormones like cortisol. As a result, these activities can promote feelings of happiness and well-being. This is especially important for people in addiction recovery, as drug or alcohol withdrawal can raise stress levels.
Lower-impact therapeutic activities like journaling, creative writing and meditation can alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression and stress. Discovering new coping mechanisms to process emotions and feelings is beneficial during the rehabilitation process.
Many people in recovery find it difficult to sleep soundly through the night, especially in the early stages of treatment. Physical activity can help you overcome obstacles hindering your sleep patterns, including difficulty falling and staying asleep, or feeling drowsy and sluggish throughout the day.
Creative therapeutic outlets can also help you sleep better. The calming effect of these activities can ease your mind, making it easier to fall asleep.
Excelling in a therapeutic activity can boost confidence, positive thinking and self-esteem. For instance, participating in outdoor exercises or sports can help you accomplish personal goals like building muscle or losing weight.
Achieving a fitness goal reminds you that you are capable of facing and overcoming challenges, which is essential to remember during rehabilitation. Research shows that encouraging results from consistent exercise can influence substance users’ motivation to change their behavior.
Perhaps your goal is to find a unique interest or learn something new. Taking up a new art medium, like painting or drawing, allows you to pursue a new skill, discover a talent and flex your creative muscle. Whatever you wish to achieve during your recovery, recreational therapy at Gateway is a great way to grow your confidence and self-image.
Attending group recreational therapy sessions is a great opportunity to meet new people in a safe, uplifting environment. You can also find a common ground with people who have similar hobbies and interests.
Making new friends in the initial recovery stage can be challenging, but recreational therapy provides a great way to form connections and build relationships. Whether taking an art class, playing on a sports team or hiking with a group, therapeutic recreation brings people together during recovery, reminding them that they aren’t alone.
Every individual has unique needs and responds to treatment methods differently. Therefore, some may benefit from certain types of therapeutic recreation more than others. For instance, one might prefer more art-based recreational opportunities like music, painting or drawing, while another may benefit from outdoor recreation and sports.
The key is finding what works best for you. A specialist can guide you through this process and have you try some different activities. Pursuing this type of therapy is an excellent opportunity to rekindle an old passion or develop a new hobby. Below are some common types of substance misuse recreational therapy.
Adventure therapy is a broad term encompassing outdoor physical activities, such as:
Outdoor excursions can help relieve stress and depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and anger issues. They can also encourage team building, develop motor skills and improve coordination.
Recreational therapy centered around art offers a creative, relaxing and enjoyable outlet for clients to freely express themselves. Painting, drawing, dance, drama and other art mediums can:
Opening up about difficult thoughts and feelings is challenging for many clients. Creative and artistic activities give them an innovative way to share emotions and increase self-awareness. They can practice these therapeutic recreations in a safe, nonjudgmental environment, encouraging them to be themselves and build confidence.
As the name suggests, animal-assisted therapy involves the use of animals — such as dogs, horses, cats or birds — during treatment for a condition or disorder.
Animal-assisted therapy aims to improve the individual’s emotional, social or cognitive function. Most people experience a boost of depression- and stress-reducing hormones like serotonin, oxytocin and prolactin by simply being in the presence of an animal. Here are some common types of animal-assisted therapy:
Through animal-assisted therapy, patients can build empathy and communication skills by picking up on body language. In addition to substance use disorders, this therapy can be an effective technique for other mental health challenges.
Mindfulness-based treatment encourages people to think and reflect on the thoughts, feelings and behaviors influencing their substance use. Because it’s an effective relapse prevention strategy, activities encouraging mindfulness — such as creative writing, journaling, meditation and yoga — can be incorporated into recreational therapy as well.
Mindfulness-based therapeutic recreation has been shown to:
Gateway Foundation provides many recreational opportunities that we incorporate into our clients’ individualized treatment programs. Our treatment centers have indoor gymnasiums, fitness centers and lovely natural surroundings where you are sure to find an activity that interests you.
These activities create positive outlets that help you find fresh ways to enjoy and cope with life without substances. Reigniting old passions and finding new ones through a therapeutic recreation activity empowers you to achieve long-term success in recovery.
If you’re pursuing recreational therapy for substance misuse in Chicago or surrounding areas, Gateway Foundation has many options to choose from. We make it easy for clients to find activities they enjoy based on their hobbies, passions, interests or techniques they respond well to. Here are some of the therapeutic recreation activities we offer.
Physical fitness and exercise naturally boost serotonin levels, reduce cravings, ease depression and help prevent relapse by lessening other withdrawal symptoms.
You may have to try several exercises to find one that resonates with your treatment plan. Experimenting with different workouts helps you determine which aspects of exercise you enjoy most. It may take time, effort and patience, but it’s highly rewarding in the long run.
Here are some popular forms of exercise our specialists might encourage you to try out:
Some other great exercises include martial arts, boxing, surfing, snowboarding and kayaking. The possibilities are limitless when creating an exercise routine suited to your interests, skills and abilities. Gateway can help you find the right exercises for your treatment plan if you aren’t quite sure where to begin.
The practices of yoga and meditation can teach healthy coping skills that you can use to manage stress and reduce feelings of anxiety. Yoga helps you practice healthy thoughts, feelings and emotions. You can relax your mind and improve your focus.
Yoga also builds muscle strength, stamina, flexibility, energy and athletic performance. Additionally, it’s a great way to connect with other people. Therefore, yoga can do wonders for your body, brain and socialization alike.
Promoting self-awareness and self-expression is an important aspect of treating substance use disorder. Art and music are healthy ways to express deep-seated thoughts and emotions and examine the effects of substance use.
Art-based therapeutic activities help clients find an alternative communication method to convey their feelings. Some examples of these activities include:
Therapeutic art is a great way to manage stress, adjust to your recovery process, enjoy a break from intensive therapy sessions and express yourself creatively. It soothes the mind and offers a safe, healthy outlet for different emotions.
Connecting with nature and getting outdoors is a deeply therapeutic experience that promotes relaxation and serenity. It’s a great opportunity to soak in nature and refresh your mind. Plus, conquering a challenging trail is an excellent workout and self-confidence boost. Hiking is an ideal activity for physical and mental health alike.
At Gateway, you’ll find various group games to participate in, including:
These activities can foster team-building, social functioning and friendships. They also help decrease social anxiety while providing a safe space for interpersonal skills practice.
Whether basketball, volleyball or ping-pong, participating in group games through Gateway allows you to reap the benefits of physical activity and social interaction alike. You can establish both strong relationships and healthy habits.
Fun activities that encourage body movement, engagement and enjoyment are beneficial for the healing and health of our clients. Learning to connect around these types of activities builds self-esteem, positive recovery skills and interpersonal skills. Therapeutic recreation shows individuals how to have fun without drugs or alcohol.
At Gateway Foundation, we offer a continuum of care through various treatment options and therapies, including many therapeutic recreation activities. Our goal is to create an environment that promotes health and recovery, both now and in the future.
If you’re seeking recreational therapy for alcohol addiction or drug misuse, Gateway has over 50 years of expertise, caring and compassionate staff, and evidence-based treatments with proven results. Contact us today to learn more about our recreational therapy for addiction in Chicago.
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