Activity-Based Therapy

Activity-Based Therapy Offers Emotional Outlets

For those in recovery, emotions can seem stronger than usual and maybe even impossible to handle. Each of us is made up of huge emotional spectrums, and despite having that in common, how we handle those emotions can be dramatically different for each of us.

In 2019 New Mexico saw over 6,500 residents seek treatment. The ages of those seeking treatment for an alcohol or substance use disorder are from 12-years old to 66 and over. That’s a massive range covering a lot of different lives.

No two paths to long-term recovery are the same, and so the methods for traversing that path will need to be suited for the individual. At Shadow Mountain, we offer a variety of treatments for addressing each stage of recovery, focused on helping our clients find what will empower and aid them personally. Activity-Based Therapy, or ABT, can be an incredibly effective emotional outlet for handling strong emotions during a difficult time.

What Is ABT? Where is a Good Recovery Center?

Activity-Based Therapy (ABT) offers unique and tailored emotional outlets for those in recovery, focusing on activities that may not traditionally be therapeutic for addressing addiction. At each of our Shadow Mountain locations, we offer a variety of activities like those focused on mindfulness and calm, and those focused on exercise and expending energy.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “To be effective, treatment must address the individual’s drug abuse and any associated medical, psychological, social, vocational, and legal problems.” We focus on supplying dual diagnosis where appropriate, and utilizing ABT is one great way to make sure we’re treating a client as a whole person, with multiple needs.

Each type of ABT has its benefit, although all are designed to treat recovery as an emotional experience. Occasionally, emotions are impossible to put into words; something ABT seeks to alleviate by letting clients explore how they’re feeling through alternative methods. Here are the forms of ABT we offer at each of our locations.

Taos, New Mexico

  • Fully-equipped gym
  • Basketball court
  • Easy access to gorgeous local hikes
  • Woodshop
  • Winter sports (snowboarding, skiing, etc.) on the property
  • Equine therapy

Albuquerque, New Mexico

  • Fully-equipped gym
  • Art room
  • Game room

Santa Fe, New Mexico

  • Adventure therapy
  • Access to local art shows
  • Explore parks and local historical sites

What are the benefits of ABT?

Focusing on activities where words aren’t needed can help shift the brain’s focus and allow for the understanding of emotions that may be difficult to put into words. David Sack M.D. writes for Psychology Today, “Creative approaches such as art therapy [and] music therapy...allow people to express difficult thoughts, memories, and feelings without being constrained by words.”

Expanding on that, Dr. Sack said, “Engaging in a creative activity can open a new channel for people to connect with their emotions.” By expressing the seemingly inexpressible, the creative options of ABT “can help...process these feelings, so they don’t trigger a relapse.”

Utilizing ABT helps us focus on dual diagnosis, and other non-traditional methods to help ease cravings and potential relapse, such as, believe it or not, playing video games. A 2015 study found that playing Tetris helped curb alcohol and substance cravings, along with easing cravings for harmful activities. Plus, adding a little fun to someone’s day has many benefits!

Claire Twark, MD, wrote for Harvard Health Publishing about the benefits of exercise as ABT, saying, “In my experience, many patients with various substance use disorders have found that exercise helps distract them from cravings.” She cited a study looking at exercise to aid in treatment; it showed 25% of those involved reported total abstinence, and 50% reported reduced use.

Along with activating the mind and expending energy on positive physical activities, Dr. Twark finds exercise can lead to increased senses of community and camaraderie. The increased feelings of control and connection to those around you help return a sense of forward momentum and achievement.  It’s often said that the opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety, it’s connection, which seems to hold true here.

We love combining these unique forms of ABT with the other treatment options we offer because it addresses the person’s entire experience. If you or someone you know is seeking treatment, please give us a call at 855-980-7336. We’d love to chat with you about all the ways we can help!

Don’t wait another day to get the help you or a loved one needs. Call us now.