Playing in the dirt doesn’t have to be just for kids.  There are numerous health benefits to gardening and the addiction recovery environment has picked up on it.  While therapeutic gardening is not a comprehensive addiction treatment program, certain places are offering it as a supplement.  Recovery from addiction needs to be filled with fun and productive pursuits to help avoid a relapse.  Learning to garden could be that venture while providing sound psychological and physical benefits throughout a person’s recovery journey.

Healing Gardens

Across the country, healing gardens are being used in addiction treatment programs, nursing homes and mental health programs.  These aren’t just nice gardens to walk through with a bench to sit and enjoy the professionally landscaped design.  These gardens are raised and tended to by the patients of the programs.  They become a place for people to actively participate in a recovery program.  Patients become more self-aware while gardening and are also able to see tangible effects of their hard work and choices.  Food gardens can be cultivated and harvested for some of the food in residential programs.  And counseling sessions may be held in the garden.

Therapeutic Gardening and Dual Diagnosis

A large percentage of addicts also suffer from an underlying mental disorder.  When the two disorders co-exist, treatment options need to include both.  Therapeutic gardening has proven to provide a bridge for treatment that encompasses not only psychological benefits, but also social, physical, spiritual, and emotional healing.  The impact on a recovering addict’s life has been so beneficial that more and more treatment programs are beginning to offer this basic natural therapy.  Here are some proven benefits that make having a therapeutic garden worth the minimal resources needed to start one. –

  • Anxiety relief
  • Social interaction
  • Anger relief
  • Effective at relieving PTSD symptoms
  • Low impact exercise
  • Growth in confidence
  • Mental clarity
  • New purpose

Continuing Care

It is easy to continue gardening after treatment.  Even in urban areas, planter boxes and unique gardening beds with greenhouses make continuing the hobby a natural progression of extended aftercare.  Gardening has been known to relieve so much stress that it becomes a healthy coping technique for long term recovery.  It can become a new passion in a recovering addict’s life that increases self-worth as they watch good things grow as a result of their work. Recovery demands a new lifestyle.  That new lifestyle will reshape a person’s life.  How will you reshape yours?

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