Recovery Trekking: Rehab Reimagined
Posted on 03/08/19: 12-Steps \ Addiction Recovery \ Addiction Treatment
The Camino de Santiago (or, Way of Saint James in English) in northern Spain has served as a route for spiritual and holy pilgrimages for hundreds of years, dating back to the Middle Ages. The 500-mile long journey takes you down a winding path through verdant green hills, historic cobblestone streets, and ancient cathedrals and fortresses, among other wonders. Now, in 2019, there is a new group of people seeking inner peace and change on the same road walked by thousands of others before them: Recovery Trekkers.
Recovery Trekking was founded in 2017 by Sparrow R. and Peter P., two friends who met in recovery after lifelong battles with addiction. Both had been in and out of rehab and dealt with the endless cycle of relapse, and were looking for something to supplement the traditional 12-step program that would offer a new take on recovery for those still struggling to stay sober. Sparrow conceived of the idea of Recovery Trekking after hiking the Camino de Santiago and witnessing the effects of its healing powers firsthand, and began wondering how she could share this with other recovering addicts. Both Sparrow and Peter were able to combine their knowledge of recovery and treatment with their love for the outdoors into what would soon become a revolutionary program that offers an innovative solution to an increasingly common problem.
The vision behind Recovery Trekking according to their website is “to combine the tradition of religious pilgrimage with the success of 12-step programs. We have created a compelling new recovery platform: Recovery Trekking. We are taking recovering addicts out of institutions and out to one of the most inspiring, pilgrimages in the world: the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain. Our programs heal people… mind, body and spirit.”
There are a handful of fundamentals that their program cites make the difference between short-term recovery and lifelong healing. These are: Honesty, Accountability, Humility, A Power Greater Than Oneself, and True Self Esteem. These fundamentals serve as the pillars of the program, and are reinforced consistently throughout the journey. The program utilizes peer-based recovery coaching, which helps the recovering person be honest with themselves about their addiction and help them learn how to take responsibility for their own recovery and choices, while having the ability to lean on others around them for support. In addition, the program stresses the importance of developing a person’s self-esteem, since those seeking help with addiction have typically already hit “rock bottom” and may be plagued with self-loathing, depression, anger, demoralization, and feelings of hopelessness.
Though the Camino de Santiago itself has traditionally Christian and Catholic roots, and the program does encourage participants to incorporate an idea of a higher power, there are no requirements regarding religion to participate in the program. The road is open to believers and non-believers alike, and according to the Recovery Trekking website, “Everybody that works for us believes in a higher power and for ease of reference, will likely use the word God in daily meditations, meetings, step work and prayer. This does not mean that we believe in or espouse any specific religious beliefs.” They do, however, encourage everyone (including the guides) to share their own personal beliefs and points of view, though they urge people not to consider this as any religious endorsement.
How It Works
“For 30 days, you will eat, sleep and breath a new way of living that takes you into history, 12 step addiction fundamentals and fellowship along the famed Camino de Santiago.” – Recovery Trekking website.
The 30-day group treks are scheduled but take place year round. The program encompasses the first seven steps of the traditional 12-step program, and after completion, participants receive a certificate in the form of a beautiful Latin scroll known as the “Compostela”. Each day of the program includes the following:
- 4-8 hours of moderate physical exercise
- Guided meditation
- Small group 12-step meetings and step studies
- Writing activities related to identifying your personal pattern of addiction
- Fresh cuisine based on the Spanish/Mediterranean diet
They also offer an Individual Trekking program for those who may deal with social anxiety or fear of scrutiny, or perhaps just prefer to go it alone. It is similar to the group recovery trek, except that it is 100% focused on your individual recovery and there is no wait time for enrollment, so you have the flexibility to leave when you are ready. During the individual journey, you will still have a guide who will work with you to complete the Camino all the way to Santiago de Compostela and then onto Finisterra and the Atlantic Ocean if you decide to continue. Along the way, your guide will lead you through the fundamentals of recovery so that by the end, you are equipped with the tools and resources conducive to lifelong sobriety.
They even offer shorter, 8-day trips for those who may be in recovery but are looking for a way to recharge their program and spirituality. This Adventures in Recovery program starts in Sarria, Spain and finishes off in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, traversing the last 69 miles of the Camino Frances.
Participants in the program also have the opportunity to invite or meet up with members of their family to help with the transition and to provide them with extra support in their journey.
Recovery Trekking is evidence of the new wave of treatment options that are becoming available in the modern age. Many people suffering from addiction are looking for ways to supplement a traditional 12-step program or receive help in achieving long-term and life-long sobriety. For those that may have been in recovery for a while and want to go deeper, Recovery Trekking offers a new and innovative way of healing one’s mind and body through physical activity, among other traditional techniques such as group work, journaling, meditation, therapy, etc. It is wonderful to see new treatments come onto the scene that are making a positive impact on those struggling with breaking free from the chains of addiction.
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