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Recreational Therapy for Addiction Treatment

When exposed to prolonged drug use, addicts will eventually develop psychological, physical, and emotional issues that can be hard to deal with or overcome alone.


While they are actively using drugs or drinking excessive alcohol, they feel good. After a limited amount of time, the drugs lose their effects, leaving them in mental and emotional shambles. They will want those “feel good” sensations to come back.

At this point, the person’s brain is no longer functioning at an average level, and they now have a chemical imbalance.


Prolonged drug use can cause weak muscles and bones and a low-functioning body.


Usually, drug and alcohol use is accompanied by feelings of severe hopelessness and helplessness. Most active users are so weighed down and depressed that they may not see a clear way out of the chaos.

What is Recreational Therapy for Drug and Alcohol Treatment?

Recreational Therapy, also known as therapeutic recreation, is a set of creative, recreational activities designed to assist recovering addicts with their mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.

The Theory Behind Recreational Therapy

Recreational Therapy Specialists believe different physical and creative activities can help recovering addicts. They believe these types of activities can help improve:

  • Motor Skills Good health and fitness 

  • Relationship building

  • People skills

  • Constructive hobbies and potential passions

  • Purpose

  • Confidence

  • Experience

  • Healthier stress relief options

  • Involvement in meaningful activities            

  • Following direction skills

  • Listening and taking instruction

  • Problem-solving

  • Spiritual Health 


Did You Know Rolling Hills Recovery Center Offers Recreational Therapy?

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Expert Contributor

Dr. Williams presently serves on the board of Directors for two non-profit service organizations. He holds a Master’s degree in Human Services from Lincoln University, Philadelphia, Pa, and a Ph.D. with a concentration in Clinical Psychology from Union Institute and University. In Cincinnati, Ohio. He is licensed to practice addictions counseling in both New Jersey and Connecticut and has a pending application as a practicing Psychologist in New Jersey.

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What Type of Activities are Considered Therapeutic Recreation? 

Any sport, game, or hobby can be recreational therapy for addiction treatment. Some examples of recreational therapy are:

  • Hiking

  • Swimming

  • Art

  • Music

  • Games

  • Outdoor sports

  • Indoor Sports

  • Exercise

  • Gymnastics

  • Bowling

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How Can I Join a Recreational Therapy Group for Addiction Treatment?

Rolling Hills Recover Center has added recreational therapy for addiction treatment to our list of program options. There is a qualified Recreational Therapy Specialist who oversees the program. These specialists will provide a comprehensive evaluation and action plan regarding your overall recovery based on your needs and specific circumstances.

Does Therapeutic Recreation Work?

Specialists believe recreational therapy for addiction treatment to be most effective when combined with other evidence-based strategies for overcoming addiction. Everybody participating in a recreational treatment program will receive a comprehensive analysis and an action plan tailored to their recovery needs.

Behind any recreational/creative activity, there are standard procedures: Evaluating the client mentally and physically, documenting any changes in the client before and after the therapeutic recreation—a series of testing. Additional recovery activities are based on the needs of the individual receiving the services.

These recreational activities help people find healthier ways of self-expression, stress relief, and most critical coping skills as they face the stressors of everyday life and addiction recovery. 

Additional Facts on Therapeutic Recreation for Addiction Recovery 

  • Recreational therapy can also help with other illnesses such as eating disorders, bipolar, grief, and many more.

  • By adding Therapeutic Recreation, the client can access a complete healing experience (mind, body, and spirit).

  • Therapeutic recreation was created Post WWII to help Veterans deal with the WAR trauma.

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Using Recreational Therapy for Addiction Treatment Yourself

Everyone has their way of dealing with traumas, emotional stressors, and strongholds. However, it is usually not the addiction that causes many to struggle with sobriety but the unpleasant emotions that cause us to use them in the first place.


Engaging in meaningful, healthy activities makes you rewire your brain not to need drugs and alcohol. When you involve yourself in activities that you love and that challenge you, you’ll find it easier to replace those old destructive activities with new healthier ones.


Your body will find a new venture that feels good, and drugs or alcohol will no longer be necessary to cope with hidden pains and traumas.


Physical movement has also reset the brain to a chemically healthier state. For example, when we struggle with anxiety, depression, and chemical dependency, exercise helps release feel-good chemicals in the body and reset our brain activity.


Dancing, singing, talking out your problems in a group, coloring, drawing, and playing a group activity are all efficient activities in restoring balance. From these activities, we get a sense of feeling normal again. We learn to socialize and solve our problems instead of holding them in or blocking them out entirely with drugs and alcohol.


We also have a way of distracting our minds healthily and focusing on the present moment called mindfulness. Mindfulness can improve how we perceive stressful situations. Mindfulness also helps us problem-solve because we only see things clearly with a calm mind.


Recreational activities are more than just hobbies; they are life-changing, therapeutic strategies. Incorporating some of these creative, physical activities in your recovery plan can drastically change how you view recovery...and life. 

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What is recreational therapy for drug and alcohol addiction?
What type of activities are considered therapeutic recreation?
Joining a recreational therapy program
Does therapeutic recreation work?
Additional facts about recreational therapy
Engaging in recreational therapy yourself
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