At Sobriety Home we believe in sustainability as well as providing our clients with fresh, local produce to nourish them during recovery. An important practice we share with our guests is to encourage them to take up gardening during their stay with us so they may participate in healthy exercise that benefits them in a few ways. A lack of purpose is a feeling expressed to us by many clients, and we feel that teaching them to be responsible and compassionate towards nature is an excellent way to find some meaning during recovery, not to mention it’s great exercise and fun!
If we briefly delve into the science behind addiction for a minute, we learn that creativity allows us to develop the right hemisphere of our brains. The right hemisphere of course is closely linked to a feeling of “oneness” and compassion, which is often one of the parts of our brains heavily affected by addiction because of the distance either created or forced between family and friends when addiction’s grip tightens around our lives. Tending to a garden can restore that sense of compassion and truly help our clients during recovery.
Patience and a renewed ability to make sound decisions are two key skills that gardening helps to hone, and they are valuable talents that addicts need to posses in order to maintain their sobriety after treatment concludes, and gardening teaches both while providing fairly quick results that can be seen right before someone’s eyes, making it tangible and rewarding.
While the benefits of exercise can never be overstated during recovery, exercising outdoors has a very particular benefit for addicts. Being out in the sun boosts our vitamin D levels and given that addicts often have somewhat compromised immune systems, even 20 minutes a day of gardening can begin to refuel one’s depleted stores of such an important vitamin. Being cooped up indoors doing therapy all day isn’t our approach, as like everything in life balance is essential to well-being and health.
The benefits of gardening for an addict are numerous and are backed by both science and common sense. At Sobriety Home we’ve long understood that while symptoms of alcoholism and drug addiction may be similar among our clients, the way we approach their treatment is anything but “cookie cutter”. We’re unique, special and different from each other, therefore including pleasurable activities that also have real benefits in treatment is important for us.