Addiction alters the brain. It hijacks the reward pathways that teach us what success is. Our central nervous systems log events that stimulate those pathways and in a very real sense addiction places faulty entries into that logbook. The brain, over time, believes that intoxication is superior to real success, as it understands being high as success. Because being under the influence registers as the ultimate triumph in the substance use disorder patient’s mind, they are unable to see consequences clearly until they see the faulty logic.
The right kind of stimulation
The smell of the ocean for a fisherman or the hum of the lights on the field for the athlete send messages to our mind that we are about to experience success. It is why athletes endure the stress of competition, or the fisherman the hours of preparation and near misses. Their mind is singularly focused on the feeling of success. The athlete will suppress injury, exhaustion, and fear to score a point, break a record, or clinch a win. They don’t see these events as consequences, they are necessary to success.
With this simplified description, it makes sense that consequences are not sufficient for remission.
Voyage applies this simple concept through our use of experiential therapy as an essential part of the recovery program. We create opportunities for young men to reconfigure the neurological wiring that allows them to find and feel success.
Having fun in recovery is a necessity that, when coupled with the hard-won insight of intense group, family, and individual therapy, crystallizes the belief that recovery is worth fighting for.
Getting better one adventure at a time
Each experiential activity the men participate in is reviewed to cement the event in each young man’s mind, and to allow staff to build on a curriculum that we can prove is working. In the pursuit of a balance necessary to ongoing recovery, the experiences are a thoughtful marriage of service and recreation. In one week the men may spend hours kayaking the wild Loxahatchee River, while on another day work hard in the kitchen preparing meals for the homeless. The sense of community and accomplishment inherent in this approach reaffirms healthy success and creates the neurological landscape necessary to internalize the concepts of recovery.