What is Horticultural Therapy for Addiction?

You would be surprised at the benefits that come from being more in tune with the world and what it has to offer. Cathartic outlets can decrease feelings of stress and anxiety, but it will also rid your mind of unnecessary distractions that make it difficult to overcome your personal trepidations. For many years, clinical professionals have strongly encouraged their patients to get out more, take in the fresh air, and be “one with nature” in a sense. 

Getting outside more often not only helps physically, the mental health benefits are also very promising. So, should it come as a shock that clinical intervention rooted in the study of gardening has grown in popularity in more recent years? The study of therapy through gardening first emerged in the 1940s. The use of this method has become an effective tool for treating patients with substance use disorders. Understanding what it is and how it can be utilized in a clinical environment is a great way to introduce your addicted loved one to an intervention that can accelerate their personal growth. Horticultural therapy for addiction has immense potential to do a lot of good for patients in addiction recovery.

Defining Horticultural Therapy for Addiction

Horticultural therapy denotes the process of gardening that is facilitated by a registered horticultural therapist, for achieving specific goals within an established rehab environment. The process is meant to augment a person’s well-being through either active or passive involvement in plant and plant-related activities. It combines the therapeutic nature of a custom-designed environment with tasks aimed at satisfying the needs of those in treatment.

So how is a typical session structured?

A session starts with a discussion on the incentives of living a healthy lifestyle. Individuals will then participate in a quick tour of the gardens that emphasizes both the educational and recreational aspects of horticulture. While this is going on, these people are shown different elements in the environment that are stimulating to the senses. Upon completion of the tour, patients can partake in the planting activities. Examples of this include

  • Potting and dividing houseplants
  • Starting seedlings
  • Tending to flowers and vegetables
  • Composting

The therapist heading the session will then discuss specific topics like medication-assisted treatment, nutrition, psychology, risk factors for addiction, and any other topics relevant to successful recovery from addiction.

The Reward of Horticulture Therapy

Those who have gained proficiency from their participation in horticulture therapy can take pride in their accomplishments, even reporting their progress to their peers, families, and treatment staff. Additionally, patients may gain a sense of heightened responsibility with their new role in the environment. This form of therapy gives people the opportunity to work as planners, builders, and landscapers in a garden world they created as a unit. Other healing benefits/rewards can include:

  • Inspiration
  • Empowerment
  • Competency
  • Feeling grounded
  • Achieving balance
  • Reconnecting with the outside world
  • Having a sense of belonging and accomplishment
  • Improved self-confidence

Research has also shown that horticultural therapy increases motivation, satiates the five senses, and healthily boosts self-esteem. Stress and anxiety are major players in the addiction battle. When used as an ongoing therapeutic tool, horticulture therapy can reduce stress and anxiety. This stems from the effects that communing with nature has on our bodies. The physical activity involved in gardening may even help those get some much-needed exercise.

Could I Benefit from Horticulture Therapy?

A person who is attempting to overcome their substance use disorder should keep an open mind, as it relates to treatment options and interventions. Certain patients might respond well to individual therapy on its own, but sometimes supplementing with holistic options is needed. Horticultural therapy for addiction can provide an added boost to your personal treatment regime. This tried, and true approach uses primal methods of targeting personal stress and implements them into the clinical setting. With oversight from a clinically trained horticultural therapist, not only will you learn to tend and grow things in a garden, but you will also receive instruction on how to submerge yourself into a natural environment that is proven to provide relief, both physically and emotionally.

We understand that this activity may seem foreign to many, but that does not take away from its efficacy. Having the willingness to try out new activities and making adjustments when needed is what will bring one closer to their ultimate goal of recovery and bliss. Horticulture therapy continues to encourage these behaviors, all while teaching on the correlation between people and plants.

Holistic Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment in New Jersey

As one of your loved one’s biggest supporters, the team with North Jersey Rehabs understands the importance of your loved one receiving the help they need to achieve sobriety, which could include horticultural therapy for addiction. Our environment is void of distractions and properly managed by a compassionate team of professionals. Let us help you create a tailored program that will address each one of your individual needs. Contact us today to embark on the road to recovery! 


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