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Can Nature Exposure Impact Addiction Recovery?


Addiction recovery is a long and challenging journey, but nature can be an important part of the healing process. Studies have shown that spending time in nature has a positive impact on mental health and emotional well-being—both of which are essential for successful addiction recovery.

Nature provides an opportunity to reflect, relax, and find peace away from triggers or temptations associated with many types of substance abuse. Being outdoors also offers physical benefits such as exercise, exposure to sunlight and fresh air, and connection with other people who share similar goals of sobriety.

Despite these advantages, accessing outdoor spaces during addiction recovery can be challenging due to personal barriers, like anxiety or depression, as well as societal barriers, like a lack of green space in less affluent neighborhoods. In this article, our team at The Carter Treatment Center will explore the ways in which nature exposure can help those recovering from addiction achieve their goals while discussing strategies for overcoming potential challenges along the way.

How Does Time in Nature Affect Your Well-Being?

While there are plenty of one-off or anecdotal examples of the healing effects of nature, more and more research is being done on how exposure to natural settings can impact our health. In fact, a 2019 investigation proposed that increasing one’s exposure to nature may be associated with lower substance cravings. Beyond craving reduction though, studies worldwide are touting how even small increases to our time in nature can provide people with surprising benefits.

9 benefits of spending time in nature may include:

  1. Promotes better quality sleep
  2. Reduces stress
  3. Decreases blood pressure
  4. Enhances stress recovery
  5. Boosts self-esteem – with one study citing that “green exercise” greatly improved the self-esteem of those who identified as mentally ill
  6. Improves cognitive performance
  7. Promotes self-discipline, particularly for young girls
  8. Increases happiness
  9. Boosts mood, particularly in men

How to Find Green Space During Your Recovery Journey

Despite some studies focusing on specific green spaces, such as forests or areas with running water, there is research showing that natural elements even in the most urban of settings can offer benefits.

Ways to utilize green space in a city can include:

  • Seek out local parks and gardens
  • Join a hiking group or outdoor run/walk group
  • Apply to join a community garden
  • Participate in group conservation activities, such as weeding trails and volunteer park cleanups
  • Work with your current mental health professionals to see if there are options for ecotherapy or nature-assisted therapy in your area

Spending quiet time in nature has been shown to have positive impacts on our mental health and well-being. Our team at The Carter Treatment Center is committed to providing customized treatment plans and ongoing support during your recovery journey. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, we are here to help. Call us at (678) 737-4430 or fill out our online contact form today.