Eco-Friendly Recovery: Kicking Opioids & Other Drugs Naturally All-natural treatments and lots of outdoors exposure could be keys to recovery

The opioid crisis has swept across the nation leaving behind a trail of drug abuse, addiction, and over 218,000 deaths. The fortunate news is those who struggle with drug abuse are continuing to find their way into recovery programs, including programs that focus on naturally kicking opioids and getting patients outdoors. They are focused on eco-friendly recovery activities, placing patients in nature doing exercises such as gardening, hiking, and yoga.

Drug Abuse and Recovery

Abusing prescription and illicit drugs is a dangerous and high-risk lifestyle. It is painful for both addicts and the family of loved ones to witness and experience. However, even those who become addicted to most addictive substances, such as heroin, are capable of finding the road to recovery. There is hope for those who are willing and seek a path to a full recovery. Recovering from drug addiction can be a lengthy process that may require medical assistance depending on the severity of the situation.

Recent strides in the medical treatment for opioid addiction have made vast improvements in combating the rise of those affected by the crisis. One effective method is the use of Suboxone, a prescription drug that helps prevent people from misusing and abusing opioids. It is similar to Antabuse, a drug prescribed to alcoholics to prevent them from drinking.

Long-term abstinence requires an effective program. Getting patients outside may just be the missing piece of the puzzle for many.

Eco-Friendly Rehabilitation

Recovering from a relationship with substance abuse is a challenge, but it shouldn’t be made any more strenuous than it needs to be. Implementing rehabilitation techniques that either benefit the planet (or at least have no negative impact on it) is a way to create positive change. There are myriad ways to enjoy the outdoors that can be valuable to those in recovery, as well as to the planet.

Nature Therapy

Doctors are now prescribing hiking and daily doses of the outdoors as a treatment for a wide range of maladies — not only for those in recovery. Research has led to the conclusion that time spent outdoors in natural environments has a positive effect on a person’s overall mood and relieves a person of feelings of depression, stress, and anxiety. It also has been seen to ease feelings of fatigue and generate an overall feeling of enriched emotional well-being.

This is particularly useful for addicts who turn to drug abuse as a means of remedying emotional angst or exhaustion. It is common for patients to be admitted under a dual diagnosis consisting of both a mental illness and a substance abuse problem. Nearly half of all people diagnosed with a mental illness will develop a substance abuse problem. In such cases, it can be difficult to assess which condition developed first. Patients may attempt to self-medicate mental illnesses with drugs, or they could develop mental illness as a result of their drug use.

Getting outdoors may help to treat the effects of mental illness in some dual-diagnosis cases. It enables people with addiction to escape this cycle and decompress, directing their focus externally instead of on their symptoms or cravings. The beauty of nature can do wonders for a person’s mental and emotional well-being.


Many counselors advocate for their clients to pick up gardening during their recovery program. Studies have shown that getting your hands in the dirt has the ability to reduce depression and anxiety in some individuals. This is particularly helpful as a means of prevention for those in recovery who have had suicidal thoughts or are at risk for relapse. The combination of exercise, vitamin D exposure, and working with soil is a recipe for an improved overall mood.

A large burden to recovering addicts is filling the time they used to spend doing drugs. Gardening is a seemingly never-ending project that offers the brain and body exercise in the great outdoors. It allows participants to take ownership over a piece of ground and see the impact they can have when it comes to the betterment of the natural environment. Not only is it of benefit to the gardener but also to the insects and pollinators it provides a healthy home for.


Some rehab counselors have found value in encouraging their patients to take up knitting. Knitting has been shown to serve as a distraction from pain. This is effective for those who may have developed an opioid addiction due to pain management. Knitting can be done outdoors or indoors and can be taken with you anywhere you go. By knitting their own hats, socks, and other items, those with addiction can reduce the waste they would have accumulated by purchasing manufactured items with excessive packaging.

Knitting may be a sustainable practice to continue throughout your life.  Any and all knitting projects can be donated to other recovery centers or to local charity centers who are in need. Empowering patients with the knowledge that they are being of service to others is an additional benefit of incorporating knitting into their recovery program.

Incorporating ways to help the environment and serve others is of benefit to those in recovery. No matter how severe a drug addiction may be, hope can be offered by seeking out a recovery program at any point. However, not all recovery programs are designed the same way. Those that focus on eco-friendly means of rehabilitation will be more sustainable in the long run.