ABC & Sports Programs
Teamwork. Communication. Trust.
Here at Gateway, we teach these vital recovery skills not only by talking about them, but by practicing them through a variety of activities.
“I love therapeutic recreation. It is good for the mind, body, and soul. I recommend more exercise for everyone in rehab.” -Gateway Rehab Patient
Rehab is not a punishment, and should not feel like one. Patients who are in our program are receiving treatment for a disease, not facing a penalty for a moral failure. Therefore, we incorporate fun and adventure-based activities into our programming. Hands-on recovery skill experiences are proven to successfully teach recovery skills long-term. It also brings enjoyment into someone’s recovery journey. The goal of the ABS & Sports Programs are to truly heal and develop skills and habits that foster a healthy lifestyle while fighting this disease.
ABC: Adventure Based Counseling
Patients in all levels of care at our main campus inpatient facilities participate in our Adventure Based Counseling Program (ABC) every week. ABC can be described as a “hands-on” way of practicing recovery skills such as teamwork and communication.
Many people learn by doing. ABC focuses on experiential learning through various challenges that correlate to recovery.
JJ, our Adventure Based Counselor, has a lot of favorite activities. One of them is the Tee Pee Shuffle. Patients all stand on a log at the same time, and must order themselves in a particular order, by birthday for example, without stepping off the log. This requires communication between each other to devise a plan. It also requires lots of teamwork as they hold on to each other for support, ask for help, and work together to complete the task. Trust is also a major component, as they lean on one another for support, each person is depending on the other’s foundation to not fall off the log.
After each activity, JJ rounds up the group to talk through challenges, what did and didn’t work, and takeaways from the exercise. In this particular exercise, takeaways for their recovery journey can include the importance in asking for help, not trying to do it alone, communicating, and trusting others.
The objective of each activity is not necessarily to complete it, but work to try it and work through it as much as they can.
Theory of Challenge by Choice
“[Gabe] is very encouraging, and most importantly he doesn’t make people feel embarrassed about their skill level. His groups are orderly, on time, and informative. Gabe offers additional help with fitness-related issues and provides good, sound living instructions.” -Gateway Rehab Patient
Both the ABC and the Sports Program operate under the Theory of Challenge by Choice. This means that all patients must participate in whatever activity is being facilitated, but they can choose the level of challenge and level of participation. Many patients have physical barriers that prevent them from participating or are uncomfortable with the activity. No one is forced to do the activity to the full extent. This may mean the patient chooses to do a step-down version of the activity. This also could look like assisting with facilitation of the activity, providing water, or supporting fellow teammates. For example, in the Tee Pee Shuffle some patients walked alongside on the ground to help steady and spot someone who was on the log. Offering the option to facilitate activities ensures everyone is included, participating, and learning the importance of communication and teamwork.
“[The sports program] got you moving even when you thought you couldn’t.” -Gateway Rehab Patient
Gateway’s sports program, similar to ABC, focuses on teaching recovery skills experientially. One of the main focuses of the sports program is giving patients the opportunity to try new things, be a part of a team, and show them they can accomplish things they think they can’t.
Gabe Jackson, our Therapeutic Activities Facilitator, directs a lot of what happens in the sports program. Activities in this program include equine therapy, boxing, basketball, home run derbies, weight room sessions, yoga, flag football, and fishing.
Gabe says a big benefit of the sports program is combatting boredom. Many of the patients struggle with how to fill their free time. Many have never done these types of activities or been a part of something encouraging. Trying new activities, expanding their skills, and finding positive ways to spend their time, are all huge steps in recovery.
A lot of patients find the sport-related program to be intimidating at first, but almost all end up loving these activities! A group of women who were initially hesitant during our recent Warrior Challenge, a series of sport challenges and obstacles, ended up enjoying it so much they voluntarily asked if they could do more of these activities in their free time.
“Having the ability to have the option to get out and move around helped open my mind to recognizing my ability.” -Gateway Rehab Patient
Watching patients try new things, work on their health, find new hobbies, take initiative, and carry these activities into their lives after Gateway, is why we think incorporating programs like this is so important in addiction treatment.
While sports and adventure-based counseling may seem trivial, we assure you it is not. ABC and the therapeutic activities program make a real difference for our patients in treatment and in their lifelong recovery journey.