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Clients at the Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction find a new kind of “natural high”

Many clients at the Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction are working to move past a history of substance use. But once a month, a select group chases a more natural high in the summits of beautiful mountains and the serenity of wide-open lakes.
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In the Adventure Program, as it is known at the Burnaby Centre, clients who have shown great commitment to their recovery that month get to take part in thrilling activities like sea kayaking, canoeing or hiking that they may not have experienced before. The program both motivates clients on their recovery journeys and helps people feel more connected with nature, which has demonstrated therapeutic benefits.

Chris came to The Burnaby Centre after taking part in Alcoholics Anonymous and looking for help in other treatment programs. Nothing had previously helped him enough with his substance use issues for him to stop for good, because nothing addressed the reasons he was using.

The Burnaby Centre doesn't just treat substance use issues—clients also have serious mental health issues and often histories of trauma, which are often part of why they use. It is the only program of its kind in Canada.

Chris has found the varied of programming available to him there a great help.

"Here at the Burnaby Centre, I'm really happy that we have the opportunity to go out into the wilderness and do things like canoeing, kayaking and paddle boarding," he says. "When I'm in my addiction, I isolate myself, door closed, lights off, and I stay all alone. Being so free in nature is surreal; it makes me feel connected and helps me understand how exciting and fulfilling life as a sober person could be."

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The program also helps clients like Chris feel optimistic and excited about the future.

"I know that when I leave the Burnaby Centre after my nine-month stay, I think I will be able to go through life with without feeling the depression or desperation that I used to feel."

Recreation therapy provides opportunities for clients to try a variety of different activities," says Joel Nystrom, a recreation therapist at the Burnaby Centre. "It is our hope that clients continue to pursue these interests during and after their stay at Burnaby Centre. This will allow them to have healthy and meaningful interests in the community and positive ways of spending their free time.

The adventure program is run in partnership with Power to Be, a non-profit that empowers people to explore who they are and what they are capable of through connecting them with nature.

Learn more about the Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction.

addiction; depression; adventure program; alcohol addiction; nature therapy
 
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