Author Archives: Reflections Recovery Center

Genetic Testing & Addiction

How Genetic History Impacts Addiction

The science behind genetic testing used as a method to understand addiction may be relatively new. Still, it is making a significant impact. It is not a perfect fix when it comes to resolving or preventing addiction, but it helps in understanding addiction and treatment. If medical professionals fully understand their patient’s history and makeup, they are better equipped to help them. At Reflections, we firmly believe in fully understanding and treating each patient. When we work with genetic testing, we are not going to get a magic book with all of the answers. However, we will better understand each patient. This will help the patient in their recovery and they will have a better chance at maintaining sobriety.

When someone is already suffering from addiction, our goal is to understand their history and how they got there. Is there anything in their history and genetic make-up that made them susceptible to addiction? In a study published by the National Institute of Health (NIH), they noted, “Addictions are moderately to highly heritable.”* This does not mean that every person with addiction in their heritage will suffer from addiction. The risks are higher but there a lot of factors. The possibility of addiction can greatly depend on the availability of an addictive agent, exposure to the addictive agent, and their choice to take it (NIH)*. Nonetheless, the reality is that there can be a greater risk and this is important to keep in mind. Identifying genes that make a person susceptible to addiction make it easier to then identify tools to help prevent relapse.

Genetic testing is only one piece of a very complex puzzle in resolving the problem of addiction.

-Robert Parkinson, U.S. News

Understanding Addiction with Genetic Testing

At Reflections Recovery Center, Lisa Parsons is the Medical Director. Dr. Parsons is particularly interested in understanding every aspect of the patient’s physical makeup to fully help them. It helps to look at the DNA of patients to understand if they are carrying any vulnerability in their genetics. If so, did something occur in their life that turned that vulnerability on? Someone that is prone to stress and anxiety might be fine until something traumatic happens. Part of their genetics that drive the stress and anxiety can be what then makes them susceptible to substance abuse. The testing our team does, including Dr. Parsons, looks at these factors and check for imbalances. Once an imbalance is identified, we can begin treatment to regain a proper balance again. As with any treatment, nothing is a perfect or a total fix on its own. Nonetheless, regaining balance in any area is hugely important and helpful.

DNA Methylation

One of the genetic structures we look at is DNA methylation. Methylation is a chemical reaction that occurs in every cell and tissue in our bodies.* It is, understandably, an incredibly important part of our health. As methylation is a process that involves DNA, understanding it and our genetic history is so important. Within the brain, there are reuptake proteins which act like vacuum cleaners. They live between brain cells that take away neurotransmitters to create balance. Balance is incredibly important for health in every aspect and especially so when it comes to methylation.

When someone is undermethylated, with too many reuptake proteins, they may feel chronically depressed, tense, and anxious. Some people may feel suicidal or a lack of care for their own life or safety. With too few reuptake proteins (overmethylation) someone might feel fidgety, tense, have a hard time relaxing, or have a hard time sleeping. With either imbalance, this can leave someone susceptible to addiction as they try to cope with these symptoms.  Methylation is a process that significantly impacts our health and lives more than most of us realize.

There are, of course, many other aspects of genetic testing to look at. This is just a brief example of what we will look at to thoroughly help each patient.

Treating Addiction with Genetic Testing

Not everyone suffering from addiction carries the same genes indicating addiction. Likewise, not everyone with vulnerable genetics will suffer from addiction. For those that are vulnerable or carry “addiction genes”, understanding their genetic makeup will help. Genetic testing allows us to determine if a patient is suffering from any number of disorders. We can see what in their genetic makeup may have made them vulnerable to addiction in the first place. It can also help to determine what is the best course of action for treatment. The more precisely we can understand genetics, the better we can tailor treatment to each individual.

In an article for U.S. News, Robert Parkinson writes, “Genetic testing is only one piece of a very complex puzzle in resolving the problem of addiction.”* This is incredibly important for any person, or loved one, dealing with addiction to know. Genetic testing is not going to provide a clear map for curing addiction and ensure there is never a relapse. What it will do is provide clarity and direction in some aspects. Addiction may be a complex puzzle and genetic testing may only be one part of that puzzle, but each piece is still vital. We want each patient to maintain sobriety, not just become sober for a short amount of time. If we are going to meet this goal, then we have to look at everything we can to help them.

NIH – Genes and Addictions
Revolution Health – What is Methylation and Why Should You Care?
U.S. News – Genetic Testing for Addiction

Trauma and Recovery

Trauma is often a significant part of life for many people dealing with addiction. This may have occurred before and separate from their addiction, but also may occur during addiction. When trauma precedes addiction, people often begin to abuse substances to numb pain and cope with difficult memories. Treatment after trauma can feel invasive and it is possible to cause harm even with good intentions. Medical professionals or caregivers should be mindful that trauma can possibly be a part of the patient’s history. From an article by Massachusetts General Hospital, Liz Speakman explained, “Good care is approaching every patient with the assumption that at some point in their lives they may have experienced trauma and tailoring their care based on that knowledge.”*

As the patient and professionals work to address trauma, it should be done in a caring and sensitive way. Some patients may need treatment with their traumatic history in mind, but they are not ready to address it head on. If the treatment team addresses trauma without consideration for the patient, they risk re-traumatizing the patient. Some patients will be able to engage in therapy that directly addresses trauma. Others will need the same thorough care and treatment, keeping trauma in mind, but not as direct. For any patient dealing with trauma, treatment should be laid out clearly and each step completely understood. Counselors and caregivers will work with each patient to assess where they are and how best to deal with trauma.

Trauma and Addiction

Trauma can occur in any person’s life and can come from a number of situations. Some people develop trauma from something that happens on a massive scale. Others develop trauma from situations that occur in their personal life and possibly something they go through alone. Each person’s experience is valid and deserves to be properly treated. In a study published by the National Institute of Health (NIH), they cited previous studies that showed people increased substance use or relapsed after significantly traumatic events.* Moreover, many people also develop substance abuse disorders as a way to cope with emotions they do not feel they can handle.* Not everyone will develop addiction from trauma, but it is very common. If you or a loved one are dealing with this type of situation, there is no shame in seeking help.

From a study done by the National Institute on Drug Abuse in 1998, they found, “As many as two-thirds of all people in treatment for drug abuse report that they were physically, sexually, or emotionally abused during childhood, research shows.”* While the study is from 1998, the information is still relevant. Addiction is not inevitable after trauma, however past trauma can be a factor in turning to substance abuse to cope with the pain. Still, with these numbers it is important for caretakers to keep the possibility of trauma in mind.

Trauma Therapy

Two types of trauma therapy that Reflections engages in are Exposure Therapy and EMDR Therapy. With Exposure Therapy, the client is carefully exposed to memories and emotions from the trauma. This is helpful in moving on from trauma. With EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), the client does not talk but rather follows hand motions of their therapist. They will work with clients to work through trauma and reprocess it in a way that it will allow the clients to move forward. For both types of therapy, it is important that the client feels safe and in control. If they need to stop or slow the process, they should know they can do that. Both therapies obviously require a qualified professional, which you will find at Reflections.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is another form of therapy that can help with trauma counseling. With CBT, you work to identify and challenge harmful thoughts that you may have because of trauma. CBT helps to change behavior through managing negative thoughts and developing anxiety management techniques. Trauma can clearly leave someone with severe anxiety and depression. This can lead to thoughts that hold you back and you may be more susceptible to relapse. A qualified team of therapists at Reflections will help clients engage in CBT as necessary. CBT is not exclusive to trauma, but it can help those who need it for traumatic experiences.

Patient Focused Care

When the treatment team is working with clients, they do not need to push to find out more about the trauma. If the client is able to address it directly, then they can do so through therapy. However, what is most important is that the client should feel comfortable and in control. As stated above, EMDR is a great therapy to engage in without having to discuss trauma. With trauma-informed care, therapists will work with the clients with the assumption of a traumatic history. This means that our therapists and treatment team will work with sensitivity and care. Any treatment is clearly spelled out for clients and done with their consent. Our hope is that any clients dealing with trauma in recovery will feel safe and empowered. If we can help clients work through trauma, our goal is that they also learn helpful behaviors to prevent relapse.

Finally, there is no shame in seeking help for trauma. Every person deserves support and care in a safe environment. Anyone who has lived through trauma is resilient even just making it to the point where they are at. Addiction does not change or take away from that resiliency. It is possible to overcome trauma and addiction. If you or your loved one needs help, contact us today.

Massachusetts General Hospital – Understanding trauma-informed care
NIH – Trauma-Informed Care in Behavioral Health Services
National Institute on Drug Abuse – Exploring the Role of Child Abuse in Later Drug Abuse

Dual Diagnosis & Co-occurring Disorders

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) defines Dual Diagnosis as, “…when someone experiences a mental illness and a substance use disorder simultaneously. Either disorder-substance use or mental illness-can develop first.”* Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers may not be the easiest to find, but they are incredibly important. Clients need doctors that can properly address both psychiatric disorders and substance use disorders.

Co-Occurring Disorders in Men

Addiction and mental illness can clearly create a vicious cycle. To properly address it there needs to be a clear diagnosis of addiction and mental illnesses. Not every person struggling with addiction will face a mental illness and their path will be a little different, though no less thorough. The people that do face addiction and mental illness though will need specialized care to properly address both issues. In a 2017 study from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), it was reported that 8.5 million adults, or 3.4 percent of adults (18 or older) had co-occurring disorders in the prior year.*

Moreover, when it comes to seeking treatment, men rarely seek treatment for any disorder. If they seek treatment for addiction, they are less likely to seek treatment for mental illness due to shame and social stigma (NIH).* At Reflections, we are a men’s only rehab which we believe allows us to thoroughly treat the men we help. We work to be proactive in identifying and treating any mental illness with which our clients may be struggling. Our aim is for all of the men we treat to feel comfortable and to know that there is no shame in seeking help.

A Comprehensive Recovery

For recovery to be comprehensive, it is important to treat a patient as a whole person. This means thoroughly going over their physical and mental health. We also will look at their history up to the point where they have entered rehab. Addiction is a complicated disease and treatment should be varied to thoroughly address all of the underlying causes. With dual diagnosis, the aim is to address the mental illness and drug addiction as separate but co-occurring disorders. The best plan for treatment is to integrate different forms of therapy. This will allow each issue to be addressed individually, but coordinated to adequately tie everything together. Treating only the mental health problems or only the addiction will not allow for a full recovery.

Our goal is to accurately and thoroughly understand each patient and how to best help them.

Behavioral Therapy to address Dual Diagnosis

At Reflections Recovery Center, clients will go through complete intake assessment within a few days of arriving. This will allow us to do physical and mental health evaluations. We will review medical history as well as family’s health history, if possible, to look for any patterns and to gain a thorough understanding of the patient. Each client with have a variety of therapies that they can engage in to best help their recovery.

Among the different types of therapy that we engage in, clients can participate in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). CBT works to help clients adjust their thoughts and attitude, leading to improved emotional stability. DBT is similar and helps clients learn to regulate emotions, tolerate pain in stressful situations, and maintain healthy relationships with other people. CBT and DBT both greatly help someone who is dealing with a dual diagnosis. Reflections also has a number of other relevant and beneficial therapies that our clients have the opportunity to engage in.

Nutrition and Biochemical Deficiencies

A physical evaluation will be essential to understanding what state the patient’s body is in. It is important to understand what nutrition the client is lacking or if they have any physical disorders. Nutrition plays a significant part in addiction. With regard to nutrition, part of what we are especially interested in is your cholesterol and vitamin D. Sleep is essential for any person and is absolutely necessary when in recovery. Cholesterol helps the brain to function and that can help manage feelings of impulsivity. When your brain is functioning better, sleep should be easier to get back to normal. Furthermore, lack of vitamin D can potentially lead to bone demineralization, myopathy and immune system problems. These in turn can lead to other symptoms like pain and fatigue, which begin to disrupt your sleep.

Addiction deprives the body of nutrients and your body will let you know that it is struggling. When our doctors know how the patient’s body is deprived, this allows us to begin the process of healing. When your physical and mental health are in a better place, you will have gained important tools in your fight against relapse. We will of course look into much more than cholesterol and vitamin D. Those are just a few examples of how important seemingly small parts of our health can greatly impact our lives. When you are working to treat an entire person, you need to look at the details that are often overlooked.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers

The truth is, a dual diagnosis is not something that is easy to treat. However, a dedicated medical professional works to find the root causes of the disorders and properly treat them. If you or a loved one is possibly dealing with a co-occurring disorder, then you need an experienced and licensed dual diagnosis treatment center. We have a qualified medical team that can treat psychological issues and substance use disorders. Our goal is to accurately and thoroughly understand each patient and how to best help them. We aim to help each patient develop the skills and knowledge to maintain sobriety wherever they go. Contact us today to find out more!

Dual Diagnosis – NAMI
National Survey on Drug Use and Health – SAMHSA
Men with Co-Occurring Disorders – NIH

Skill-Building Activities for Mental Health and Addiction

“Recovery is non-linear, characterized by continual growth and improved functioning that may involve setbacks.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Steps to Recovery

Recovery takes time, a community, and will involve many different steps for each person. In recovery, a setback may be inevitable. However, a setback is not a reason for recovery to be abandoned. Everyone struggles with something in their own way and will face obstacles and setbacks. One of the best courses of action you can take is to accumulate various tools and means of support. Addiction is complex and thus your recovery will also be complex. This does not mean it is impossible, but simply that it is a process that will take serious effort.

The thought of addressing mental health issues, particularly when in recovery, may not be the most appealing. In fact, it may feel like an exhausting task. However, it is possible to engage without using all of your energy. With recovery, there are different forms of therapy that will be needed. Among them, Adventure Therapy is a way to participate in therapy while staying active. Understandably, it is not always going to be possible to engage in more strenuous physical exercise. Sometimes you just need something that is calming and simple. The good thing is there are a lot of options for low-impact activities. They will do a lot to improve your mental health and help you in your sobriety.

Low-Impact Activities to Improve Mental Health

A sense of purpose is incredibly important for any person and especially so when you are in recovery. When you have a routine and engage in physical exercise or social activities, that is a part of establishing your identity. There are low-impact activities like gardening and volunteering that allow you to be active without extending too much energy. They may even help you find a sense of self-worth.

With gardening and volunteering, you can take care of where you live and the community around you. When you give back to others, you should do so without expecting anything in return. Nonetheless, it will in turn enrich your life and you may find great improvements to your mental health. While gardening and volunteering can differ, both will develop the communities that are immensely important in recovery.

With gardening, you can work with a wide variety of plants that are visually pleasing as well as plants that can provide food. As you nourish the plants, it is rewarding to see the results of your labor. It is also fulfilling to know you are helping to create and maintain life. When you volunteer, you may be able to gain leadership and team-building skills. These skills will be essential in work and day-to-day life.

Practicing Mindfulness

Activities like yoga, meditation, cooking, and walking are all easy-going ways to relax, ease stress, and reduce symptoms of mental illness. They won’t be an instant fix, but they can be a component of the working parts that comprise your recovery. Yoga, in particular, has been shown to be helpful for stress and pain management. A Harvard Mental Health Letter cites a study by the University of Utah, which showed that people who practiced yoga had better stress regulation and in turn better pain management.*

There are many different ways to practice meditation, with no one way being correct. Often, people who practice meditation want to focus on their breath and focus on the present moment. The idea is to create a state of calm and peace, which will allow for internal reflection. From an article published by the US National Library of Medicine, author Michael McGee MD, wrote, “Several studies have also suggested that meditation can be helpful for the treatment of anxiety, addiction, aggression, suicidality, and depression.”*

Often, we can be our worst enemy when we constantly over-think our problems. This feeds a negative mindset from which it is hard to recover. Meditation and yoga are great ways to calm a racing mind. Adventure Therapy can be totally calm like yoga and meditation or high-impact like team sports and white-water rafting. Whatever you choose, it should help you to stop dwelling on the negative aspects of life that keep you down.

Cooking and Walking as Therapy

Cooking and walking are two activities that can do a lot to help your physical and mental health. With walking, you can get much needed exercise without too much of a strain. When you are walking outdoors, you may find that you are able to find time for reflection and it may help relieve some stress. Cooking is an activity that requires you to learn and focus on the tasks at hand. You may end up learning a lot about nutrition which obviously affects your physical health, but also affects your mental health in ways you may not even realize.

In an article for Psychology Today, Linda Wasmer Andrews writes that culinary therapy is growing at clinics and therapists offices, and is being used to treat a number of conditions including, “…depression, anxiety, eating disorders, ADHD, and addiction.”* What you eat can greatly affect your mental health, but the act of cooking itself can be immensely helpful.  As you cook, you gain new knowledge and also you can practice mindfulness as you focus on each step. Mindfulness may appear to be simple, but it something that when you practice it, it yields extraordinary benefits. Among the benefits, it will help reduce the time you spend worrying which feeds into mental illness.

Mental Health and Recovery

While the activities listed above are calm and low intensity, they can still be adventurous and you can learn. Sometimes just learning new facts and skills can be an exciting experience. Any type of Adventure Therapy should help you develop life-skills, interpersonal relationships, and even enable you to learn more about yourself. As the types of Adventure Therapy vary, the benefits will also vary from activity to activity. You can try a wide variety and figure out what is best for you. Whatever you choose, hopefully you are able to challenge yourself and find experiences that will be so fulfilling you will only want to move forward on this new path.

Addiction and mental health issues are not always going to feed in to one another. However, they can end up forming a vicious cycle when left untreated. Even if you are fortunate to never face serious mental illness problems, it will still be beneficial to you to work on your mental health. When you are in a better place mentally, you are better equipped to fight addiction. Mental health and addiction are both complex issues and not something you can solve by yourself. Engaging in these light activities with the support of your community will be important steps in your recovery.

Harvard- Yoga for anxiety and depression
US National Library of Medicine – Meditation and Psychiatry
Newsweek – 1 in 5 suffer from a mental illness
Psychology Today – Kitchen Therapy

How the Outdoors Benefit your Mental Health

It is important for every person to take care of their mental health, no matter who they are. Most people understand that being outdoors is good for them. When adding an active lifestyle to that, you are taking important steps to improve your physical and mental health. While research is still in the early stages, it is clear that outdoor therapy is beneficial. When you are in recovery, it helps to have a variety of activities for support.

According to a study published by the US National Library of Medicine, “Research to date has shown that nature exposure can provide a wide range of mental health benefits, related to…stress and anxiety, sleep, emotional stability, and self-perceived welfare or quality of life.”* Depression, stress, and anxiety can lead to substance abuse or can be newly developed as a result of drug use. Nature is not an instant fix, but it is a wonderful and calming way to help many of those symptoms.

Types of Outdoor Recreation

Nature is a place where we can feel free from a society that is often over-saturated with technology. In addition to spending time outside, it can be even better for your mental health when you engage in physical activities. The number of outdoor activities are vast and are frequently free or often very cheap. This variety and affordability allows for you to find different activities that work best for you.

Some of the many types of outdoor recreation include hiking, rock climbing, trail running, mountain biking, and camping. You can also walk along flat trails for an easier physical activity, while still enjoying the nature around you. With every type of outdoor activity, you can work your way up to more challenging levels. While your brain benefits from simply being outdoors, you will also feel a mental boost from what you are able to accomplish.

Skiing or snowboarding are outdoor activities that can provide an experience that is thrilling and can be challenging. One of the most famous national parks in the world, is the Grand Canyon here in Arizona. While you can hike for a challenge, even just going to visit it and walking along the rim can be an unbelievable experience. The ability to view the Grand Canyon will fill you with awe, provide a sense of peace, and may help you to feel connected with the earth.

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity.”

-John Muir

Another type of outdoor recreation is restoration and conservation volunteering. This is a way to help recover and preserve nature, which is especially important when it comes to the community you live in. Participating in this type of activity will help you learn, build social relationships, and feel a deep connection to the land around you. As our world becomes more urbanized, it is important that we engage in a serious effort to protect it.

Volunteering will help strengthen your community for support in your journey. It will also provide a sense of accomplishment that you are working on something much bigger than yourself. According to a study done in part by Rodlescia Sneed at Carnegie Mellon University, “Many people find volunteer work to be helpful with respect to stress reduction, and we know that stress is very strongly linked to health outcomes.”* When you are taking steps to reduce stress, you help ease any pressure on your overall health.

The Outdoors and Your Recovery

As previously stated, the great thing about outdoor recreation is the variety that you can choose from. This will help when it comes to cost, time, and level of difficulty. A California Parks Department study found, “Regular physical activity during recreation can reduce the severity of mental health disorders, enabling individuals to better cope with their daily lives.”* Physical exercise done outdoors is a great, and often free, resource to utilize.

 It is important to remember: none of this will be an instant fix. Still, it can help to alleviate symptoms and can help you cope with day-to-day life. It will never hurt to engage in behavior that strengthens your mental health. Of course, these activities also improve your physical health. This creates a positive cycle of getting your mental and physical health in a better place.

Addiction is a complex issue and maintaining sobriety is also complex. However, it is not impossible to maintain sobriety. It will take time, effort, and a community around you for support. Your journey may even involve failure or setbacks, but that is okay. Life is like that for everyone. When you engage in outdoor recreation, you are developing another tool as part of your continual journey in sobriety.

* California Parks & Rec – Health & Social
* NIH – Bringing Outdoor Therapies Into Mainstream Mental Health
* Harvard Health Publishing – Volunteering

How Water is used in Adventure Therapy

Water is Essential to Life

Leonardo da Vinci said, “Water is the driving force in nature.” Time spent in any type of natural setting can be healing and spending time around water can benefit your physical and mental health in ways of which you may not even be aware. Water comprises most of the earth and most of the human body, with the earth being around 71% water and humans being 50-60% water.

Water keeps us alive and also provides innumerable benefits to our overall health. Whether you are participating in activities directly in water or around water, you are sure to gain even more benefits and tools to help in your recovery and sobriety.

Mental Health and Water

According to Wallace Nichols, a marine biologist, “…the mere sight and sound of water can induce a flood of neurochemicals that promote wellness, increase blood low to the brain and heart and induce relaxation.” Water is one of the basic elements of earth. It was obviously around long before technology and even any civilizations. Interaction with water connects us something essential for all life.

As we live in increasingly urbanized places and rely on technology, our mental health takes a toll. When you can take time away from that and go to water, you go back to something basic and elemental to life. This can allow for reflection and a sense of peace away from the non-stop pressure of daily life.

While being around water may be most helpful, it’s also beneficial to listen to water sounds to relax or sleep. Physical and mental health are separate, but obviously deeply intertwined. It is important to keep both running well to create a positive cycle. Engaging in water based adventure therapy is a great way to reap the benefits of water and nature and improve your health. In an effort to maintain sobriety, the importance of mental health cannot be stressed enough.

Types of Water Recreation

One great thing about many types of water recreation, is they can be solitary or in a small group setting. This can add to the peaceful aspects and can allow for self-reflection, which is important to therapy and recovery. As water provides a sense of calm, you may find it easier to shut out the noise and even possibly engage in meditation which helps to reduce stress and anxiety.

Some popular water recreation activities include: swimming, surfing, kayaking, and canoeing. An especially positive aspect of many of these activities is that they are low-impact, while still providing excellent cardiovascular exercise. These are activities that can be solitary and allow for much needed internal reflection, particularly when you want to feel connected with nature as a way to heal.

Kayaking and canoeing can be done in groups and can be a peaceful and intimate way for people to develop closer relationships. Rivers and lakes are often quiet, which can allow for deeper conversations and group reflection. Water recreation is also a wonderful way to explore new places. Traveling and seeing new places can help reduce stress and improve your mood. It’s certainly not a magic fix when exploring nature, but you are helping your mental health than you may think.

Arizona and Water Recreation

Arizona is an incredibly diverse state with a vast number of options for water recreation. You can challenge yourself with white river rafting trip down the Colorado River, enjoy a more peaceful ride on an inner tube down the Salt River, cliff-dive from various places including Sedona, and enjoy kayaking or canoeing in Prescott lakes among many other options.

These are only a few of the many options you can find and they are all either relatively cheap or even free. They provide fantastic ways to challenge yourself and boost your mood. In Sedona, for example, you often will need to hike to wherever you will cliff-dive. These hikes can vary from and easy to a more grueling hike that will push your body to the limits.

Prescott also has a number of lakes where you can partake in water recreation without necessarily getting in the water. There are many beautiful hiking trails, which you can also bike, as well as lakes where you can fish. They are also good places for sitting and spending time simply reflecting. Wherever this is done, being near water outdoors is of course another way to expose yourself to Vitamin D. If you do want to get on the water, you can try cheap options like renting kayaks, canoes, or paddle-boats. Goldwater, Watson and Lynx Lake are some of the wonderful lakes available to us here to do that.

Close to Prescott, there are trails we take day-trips to including Beaver Creek. It is a hike that provides a solid workout, but you don’t have to be an avid hike to complete. It is open year-round, but if you do go during the warm season you can enjoy cool water at the end as well as a bit of cliff-diving.

Water And Recovery

Whether done individually or in small groups, water recreation can be an incredible tool in substance abuse recovery. According to a study published by the US National Library of Medicine, “Interactions with nature can facilitate social interactions with adults…foster social empowerment…and promote social cohesion and support.” Since recovery is difficult, it is important to surround yourself with strong social support. Water recreation is a way to engage nature, build vital social relationships, and continually gain new ways to maintain sobriety.

Health benefits of being by water – Quartz
What are the Benefits of Interacting with Nature? – NIH

How Exercise can help in Addiction Recovery

Addiction Rehab and Physical Fitness

Every person can gain physical and mental benefits from exercise, no matter where they are in life or what their capability. Each person will also find they thrive from different types of exercise and different amounts. Something as simple as getting 20-30 minutes of movement, like an easy walk around your neighborhood, will be incredibly effective in improving your overall health. Exercise is also a wonderful way to clear one’s mind and reduce stress. While it is of course not a guarantee, normal physical activity is a fundamental way to increase overall happiness. A clearer and happier mindset are essential tools in fighting addiction and maintaining sobriety.

The Relationship Between Physical and Mental Health

According to a report by Mark Smith and Wendy Lynch, published in the US National Library of Medicine, there is a considerable amount of literature which demonstrates that exercise helps decrease depression and anxiety in humans, with both being factors for substance abuse.* Exercise improves your physical health in many different ways: you gain muscle strength and definition, lower blood pressure, less stress, and better sleep among many other benefits. When you improve your health in all of the aforementioned ways, you are able to gain self confidence and feel better mentally.

From the many benefits of physical activity, the importance of improved sleep cannot be stressed enough. According to Harvard Health Publishing, “Sleep problems may increase risk for developing particular mental illnesses…” and that “Regular aerobic [exercise that stimulate and strengthen the lungs and heart] helps people fall asleep faster, spend more time in deep sleep, and awaken less often during the night.” When you exercise regularly and follow a routine, you will find that you sleep better which in turn will improve your mental health.*

Camaraderie and Fitness

When following a fitness routine with others, you will find that you are more encouraged to stick to that routine and will develop close relationships with people that can provide support in your journey. There are many types of team sports that are fantastic forms of exercise and can be a significant way to build vital relationships. This can include: rugby, soccer, basketball, tennis, and group Crossfit among many other options. A study done by the government of Australia reported that, “Participants in sport and recreation report…improved self-esteem, self-confidence, community identity and greater community cohesion…” as well as “Reductions in anti-social behavior, crime and social isolation have also been reported.” As you participate in group activity over time, you will learn various skills and gain confidence in many parts of your life, which will be an essential part of continued sobriety. *

Embrace the challenges that you will face and look to your community for the support you need.

Social Benefits

Participation in team sports and group exercise is clearly a meaningful way to fight against loneliness and inactivity. It allows you to connect with others in a way that provides a challenge, encourages teamwork and communication, and everyone in the group can learn to increase trust in each other.

While it is not a bad thing to be alone, as that can be needed at times, it is important to make sure you are not completely isolated far too often. Physical activity and community action separately boost your mental health and together they both provide an incredible source of support in your recovery.

Friendship is a wonderful way to help maintain sobriety. Friends help hold each other accountable, challenge each other, and help each other enjoy life. Aristotle said of friendship, “And friendship is a help to the young, in saving them from error, just as it is also to the old…for ‘two going together’ are better able to think and act.” Group sports and exercise are some of the avenues that you can pursue to gain new friendships and deepen them over time.

Fitness and Addiction Recovery

From all of the benefits mentioned above, the important takeaway is that they will all be a part of your continued sobriety and success in recovery. Exercise is beneficial to physical and mental health, and those in turn are essential to fighting addiction. The goal is to create a positive routine where you are developing habits and skills that are going to be a part of your continued progress. Exercise on its own is not a guarantee one will never develop addiction or that one will never face relapse, but it is a powerful component in the many different parts of recovery.

Each person in recovery will be at a different starting point as far as what they are capable of doing physically. It is important to keep in mind that physical activity and skill is also a journey that will take time and effort. As you go along though, you will find yourself accomplishing more and setting new goals, developing confidence, and establishing significant relationships. Embrace the challenges that you will face and look to your community for the support you need.

Exercise as Treatment for Drug Abuse – NIH
Sleep and Mental Health – Harvard Medical School
Physical Activity and Building Stronger Communities – PCAL

How Adventure Therapy helps with Substance Abuse Recovery

There are a large variety of options for therapy to treat addiction; not every person will thrive from the same option and many people will even need multiple forms of therapy for the help they need. Adventure therapy is a form of therapy that seeks to help individuals recover by gaining life skills that will enable them to handle challenges in everyday life and maintain their sobriety. This can include individual or group sessions, often with a combination of both to best support one’s recovery.

Addiction and Mental Health

Addiction can further deteriorate preexisting mental health problems and can cause new mental health issues. When left untreated, mental health problems can feed into addiction and addiction can cause new issues, or further deteriorate existing mental health problems, creating a vicious cycle. Adventure therapy is a way for individuals to learn skills and gain experiences that will help manage addiction, mental health problems, and other issues they may face.

Benefits of Physical Activity in Recovery

Adventure therapy can be an important way for individuals to challenge themselves, learn to build strong relationships through teamwork, and set goals. There are many different ways to experience adventure therapy and this is something that will vary for each individual. Experiences can include group sports, walking or hiking outdoors, or even rock climbing among many other options.

It is a well known fact that physical activity, particularly time spent outdoors, can be an incredible boost to mental health. You may find yourself accomplishing things you never thought you could: summitting a 1400’ peak, running a marathon, developing solid relationships or simply getting out everyday and being active. Adventure Therapy can help develop survival skills, give you a sense of self-worth and accomplishment, and help build lifelong relationships.

A few examples of activities – both solitary and in groups – that can helps boost self esteem and mental health:


  • Team Sports
  • Weight Lifting
  • Tennis
  • Soccer
  • Rugby
  • CrossFit
  • Spin

Outdoor Recreation

  • Hiking
  • Rock Climbing
  • Trail Running
  • Mountain Biking
  • Mountaineering
  • Camping/Survival
  • Hunting

Water Recreation

  • Fishing
  • White Water Rafting
  • Kayaking
  • Swimming
  • Surfing
  • Scuba Diving
  • Snorkeling

Mental Health

  • Walking
  • Cooking
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Volunteering
  • Gardening
  • Mentoring

Adventure therapy is a form of therapy that seeks to help individuals recover by gaining life skills that will enable them to handle challenges in everyday life and maintain their sobriety.

When you engage in adventure therapy, you are able to improve your mental health which is an important facet to sobriety. If you are struggling with mental health, you will not be able to battle addiction to your best ability. Substance abuse is a complicated issue and these experiences are not a guarantee that one will never struggle with substance abuse again, but they are a significant way to develop tools to support you in your journey.

Community Support

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), one of the most common forms of therapy is behavioral therapy. According to the NIDA, “…participation in group therapy and other peer support programs during and following treatment can help maintain abstinence.” Peer support is a vital part of many forms of adventure therapy, which helps build skills and provides motivation for continued sobriety. There is not one form of therapy that is going to help everyone and individuals will also need the support of others. Adventure therapy will allow individuals to build a community for support during and after treatment.

Physical Health and Diet

Your physical health is an important part of adventure therapy and your overall success in recovery. While research is still being done on how exactly nutrition and diet affect substance abuse recovery, it is widely accepted that a well-balanced diet and physical activity can both improve mental health. According to Eva Selhub MD, with Harvard Medical school, when you consume a high amount of processed and refinedfoods, your brain can become damaged and your body becomes worse at regulating insulin, which also affects the health of your body. Maintaining a nutritious diet will improve your mental and physical health, both of which are significant parts of recovery from substance abuse.

How Reflections Uses Adventure Therapy to Help You

The team at reflections uses Adventure Therapy in many ways. Primarily, our goal is to improve the state of mental health in order to benefit addicts in their journey to recovery. Leveraging methods that we will explore further in our series, Reflections seeks to provide life skills, fitness, and a healthy attitude to improve mental outlook. This is key to setting you up for success!

Emphasizing health can help create a chance in lifestyle. If you want to change and overcome your addictions, contact us today: 866-324-8628

Does Parents’ Emotional Pain Get Adult Children Into a Drug Recovery Plan?

Parents generally do everything they can to spare their children pain, but what can a parent do when an adult child has developed a substance abuse disorder? For adult children, drug recovery can be an extremely difficult subject to broach and some parents may find it difficult to break enabling behaviors. However, it is essential for parents in these situations to address these issues honestly and set a firm foundation for their children’s recoveries.

Emotional Appeals Often Aren’t Enough

Parents may beg and plead with a child enduring substance abuse disorder to seek treatment, only to have their encouragement fall on deaf ears. It can be tremendously difficult for a parent to even acknowledge a child’s substance abuse, let along confront him or her about it. Some parents may struggle to find the words while others let emotions drive their thoughts and may wind up doing more harm than good. If encouragement fails they may resort to guilt-trips, but this will not work either. All guilt-tripping accomplishes is making the child feel worse about his or her situation.

Developing Realistic Goals

The parents of a grown child with a substance abuse disorder must work closely together to develop a drug recovery plan that they can support. Finding the right treatment program is just one step of this process; parents must also plan to have an intervention with their child and plan to address their own roles in the child’s behaviors.

Honest Self-Reflection: Parents’ Emotional Pain And Drug Addiction

Children will typically feel guilt at the sight of a parent’s emotional pleas to enter rehab, but these pleas may also fall on deaf ears if the child’s addiction has escalated to dangerous levels. Addiction can turn people into master manipulators; once addiction has firmly taken hold of an individual, he or she will start doing everything possible – consciously and unconsciously – to maintain the addiction.

Parents unfortunately often play roles in these cycles of addictive behaviors by enabling a child’s habit when they only want to help. Identifying and stopping enabling behaviors can be one of the most difficult aspects of a parent’s confrontation with a child’s substance abuse, but it is an essential part of recovery.

Stopping Patterns Of Enabling

Some parents will enable a child’s addiction without realizing it. Most enabling behaviors arise from good intentions; parents don’t like seeing their children suffer and will try to prevent that suffering if possible. Enabling can take many forms, including:

  • Cleaning up after a child, such as doing laundry or washing dishes the child neglected due to his or her habits.
  • Paying basic living expenses for an adult child because he or she spent too much money on drugs or alcohol.
  • Allowing an adult child to remain in the family home and continue using drugs because the parent believes it’s “safer” than him or her doing it on the street. This may be technically true, but it does nothing to curb the addiction.
  • Lying on behalf of a child or making excuses for him or her to cover up his or her addiction.

This is not a complete list. Enabling can occur in many situations and varies based on unique factors in a family, but it’s vital to recognize that any behaviors that allow an addiction to continue unchecked, even those made with the best intentions, are enabling behaviors that need to stop.

The Value Of Professional Interventions

Parent’s emotional pain usually isn’t enough to convince a child to enter addiction treatment. Substance abuse distorts perceptions and priorities and such emotional displays will only put the child on the defensive. Guilt won’t work either, so how can parents address addiction with a child in a constructive way?

Most recovery journeys begin with an intervention. During an intervention, the friends and family of a person with an addiction will come together to let their struggling loved one know how his or her habits have affected them and encourage him or her to enter rehab. This can be a difficult emotional experience for everyone involved, and professional assistance can be a tremendous asset to any family in this situation.

Instead of an unrehearsed, unguided intervention where tempers can flare and past grudges may resurface between family members, a professional intervention offers a more structured and constructive approach to convincing someone to enter rehab. A professional interventionist will work closely with the family and friends of the person with the addiction to develop a meaningful and positive intervention experience with the highest chances of success.

How Can Reflections Rehab Help My Child?

Reflections Rehab is a men’s-only addiction treatment center that focuses on outdoor activity and individualized care. We know there is no one-size-fits-all solution to addiction, and we take the time to get to know every patient on a comprehensive personal level to develop a treatment plan that works best for him.

Our professionally guided intervention services can help a family plan and execute a positive and constructive intervention that convinces a struggling child to enter rehab and pursue a sober lifestyle. We understand there are unique factors in any family that complicate addiction, which is why we take the time to get to know every patient and every family we assist on a personal level. Addressing substance abuse means uncovering the roots of an addiction, and these roots often reside among the family and friends of a person with a substance abuse disorder.

Emotional appeals are not enough. While it’s important for parents to be honest about their feelings with their children, they should not expect their emotional pleas alone to be enough to persuade their children to enter rehab. Confronting long-standing familial issues that have contributed to a child’s addiction can be extremely difficult, but this is a crucial part of the recovery process.

Reflections Rehab can help. We offer a full range of treatment services and therapies to young men struggling with all types of addiction. If your son is struggling with a substance abuse problem, learn more about our intervention program, how it could help you, and the other services offered at Reflections Rehab.

The Benefits Of Adventure Therapy During Addiction Treatment

The most successful addiction treatment programs offer individualized care that addresses each patient’s unique needs. There are many benefits of getting outdoors during drug rehab, but adventure therapy takes this notion a step further, and can help young men confront and overcome many of the issues typically associated with substance abuse.

How Young Men Benefit From Adventure Therapy

Addiction can cause severe mental health problems or occur in tandem with preexisting mental health conditions and make them worse. Substance abuse is also a very alienating experience due to the stigma surrounding addiction and the common repercussions of addiction such as job loss, financial ruin, and destroyed relationships. Rebuilding a life after addiction can be extremely difficult, especially for young men suffering from low self-esteem, shame from past poor decisions, and alienation from loved ones. Adventure therapy rebuilds confidence and restores the body to pave the way for a more successful rehab experience.

Encouraging A Healthier Body For A Healthier Mind

Physical activity is undeniably healthy for everyone and it is especially beneficial when recovering from substance abuse. Addiction causes countless physical problems; some people expose themselves to infectious diseases from sharing drugs and drug supplies with others. Some suffer injuries and illnesses that take longer to heal due to compromised immune systems. Others may suffer abuse and sexual assault that diminish mental health as well as physical health. Exercise and sports support addiction recovery, and adventure therapy can provide even more individualized therapy for young men struggling with addiction.

Overcoming Fears And Self-Doubt

Adventures like fishing trips, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, and rock climbing can help overcome long-standing fears and teach people in recovery more about themselves than they may expect. Adventure therapy is much more than a jaunt outdoors for some fresh air; these experiences can help people with substance abuse problems confront aspects of themselves in a new light that they were unable to confront before.

A person who thought, “I could never climb a mountain”, and then actually does it, will start thinking about the other things he or she could accomplish with dedication and perseverance. Essentially, adventure therapy can be physically therapeutic as well as psychologically inspirational and offer the push a person needs to pursue addiction treatment wholeheartedly.

Learning From New Experiences And Making Changes

Experiences in adventure therapy can help reshape a person’s attitude about his or her life and offer new insights for tackling the problems common with substance abuse. For example, a person struggling with a dual diagnosis for substance abuse disorder and depression may find that regular outdoor activity and the thrill of new experiences offers more profound relief from symptoms of depression than prescription drugs.

Even less intense adventures, like a simple camping trip, can be an invaluable experience. For example, people gathered around a fire is a profound and primitive experience that resonates with early man; fire was necessary for survival in the early days of mankind and gathering around a campfire was a sign of community and strength. Fire offers warmth, a means of cooking food, and the connection human beings have with fire can inspire honest discussions and reveal the layers under a substance abuse disorder.

Developing Healthy Habits For Life After Rehab

Confronting fears and overcoming physical challenges during adventure therapy can be extremely therapeutic in many ways. These events can reshape a person’s attitude about him or herself and offer new insights into solving the problems that accompany daily life. Adventures can also provide moments of clarity away from the usual distractions of everyday life that allow for deeper introspection and self-analysis in a calm, beautiful environment.

One of the most difficult aspects of recovery is learning to implement the lessons learned in rehab into normal life. Relapse is very common among people struggling with substance abuse, and there is no hard and fast method for preventing relapse; everyone has unique needs and risk factors that require individualized attention. The lessons learned during adventures or while traversing the wilderness are invaluable and irreplaceable and leave a lasting impact that can benefit a person living in recovery for years to come.

No “Right” Way To Go Adventuring

Anyone considering adventure therapy should remember that these exercises are not about intensity nor are they solely focused on physical improvement; everyone will learn different things and benefit from different outdoor activities in unique ways. Ultimately, the goal of adventure therapy is to teach participants how to confront fears, overcome challenges, and learn new problem-solving techniques.

Physical activity also has strong links to mental health*, and regular exercise can boost creative thinking and improve neuroplasticity, improving memory and thinking processes over time that may have diminished due to drug abuse. Research from the American Psychological Association reported that walking outdoors offers a more profound mental health benefit than walking indoors or on a treadmill. This could be a sign that despite the evolution of mankind and the massive amount of technology at our disposal, human beings still have a profound connection to the natural world and benefit greatly by walking through it, exploring it, and overcoming its challenges.

Adventure Therapy At Reflections Rehab

Reflections Rehab is a men’s-only addiction treatment facility that offers a full range of substance abuse treatments and therapies with a special focus on outdoor activity. We believe strongly that exercise and exploration are beneficial for everyone, but those struggling with substance abuse disorders can have especially valuable experiences by exploring the outdoors and learning more about their individual capabilities.

Recreational therapy of any kind offers tremendous benefits. Sports, physical games, and simply walking outside offer a tremendous level of relaxation and balance that can be difficult to find in the busy modern age. Adventure therapy takes this further and encourages participants to confront their fears, solve problems, and appreciate their place in the natural world. Reflections Rehab provides individualized treatment plans for young men struggling with addiction, so explore what we have to offer and contact us for more resources and information about your adventure therapy program.