9 Best Wilderness Alcohol And Drug Rehab Centers

For some people struggling with addiction to alcohol or drugs, traditional rehab programs do not best help them conquer substance abuse. Alternative treatments, like wilderness drug rehab, may serve as an effective treatment option for addicted individuals who do not do well in a traditional setting.

10 Best Wilderness Rehab Programs

Certain people will respond best to more hands-on, alternative approaches to addiction treatment, such as wilderness rehab programs, which offer adventure and immersion in nature.

Wilderness drug rehab programs can be ideal for teens, young adults, and even pre-teens who have a dual diagnosis. Having a dual diagnosis means they are struggling not only with addiction but with mental illnesses, such as depression or attention-deficit disorder.

These programs help individuals build trust in their peers and their own abilities. They bolster the patient’s confidence by letting them solve the challenges that come with interacting with the outdoors.

Besides adventure therapy, wilderness rehab programs also integrate traditional addiction therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, individual, group, and family therapy, and inpatient and outpatient rehab programs.

These facilities are listed in alphabetical order

1. Blackwater Outdoor Experiences, Midlothian, Virginia

Founded in 1980, this rehab program, like most other wilderness rehab programs, is geared toward young adults and adolescents. The program also supports families whose loved ones suffer from addiction and mental health issues.

Inpatient treatment here teaches patients the skills necessary to navigate the wilderness, which cultivates awareness, insight, and self-reflection.

Blackwater also operates a 22-day wilderness expedition that is developed in four stages. In pre-treatment, the patient is given individualized treatment goals.

They also receive individual and group therapy, though these sessions are held outdoors around a campfire.

Patients are given journals to use throughout the residential rehab program, and adventure therapy teaches them new sets of skills and coping mechanisms. Patients are then let loose in the wilderness for 72 hours, though still under the supervision of the staff.

At the same time, the patient’s family is given support. During family weekend, the patient is reunited with their family for recreational activities and therapy. After this, the staff can refer the patient and their family for further treatment.

Location and contact information:

13805 Village Mill Dr.
Midlothian, Virginia 23114
(804) 378-9006


Ohio Recovery Center


Plymouth, Massachusetts

2. First Steps Recovery, Clovis, California

Besides the many traditional programs offered, First Steps offers wilderness therapy rehab programs that are accredited by the Joint Commission. As it is found in Fresno County, the setting around the facility is exceptionally beautiful.

However, it is also challenging to navigate, and mastering survival skills during wilderness treatment helps to bolster the self-esteem of a person struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Field trips that include hiking in the mountains or swimming teach the addicted person that they cannot only master skills but can have fun even when they’re sober.

Location and contact information:

2121 Herndon Ave.
Clovis, California 93611
(844) 244-7837

3. Foundation House, Portland, Maine

The Wilderness Adventure Program is one of the many programs this alcohol and drug rehab center uses to treat its patients.

Located in the Maine wilderness, Foundation House provides bi-weekly adventures for patients that include backpacking, camping, dog sledding, fly fishing, and ice camping.

As with some rehab programs that include wilderness therapy, patients can also go on vision quests. These programs are held Thursday through Sunday. The alternative rehab program is for young men ages 17 to 35.

Location and contact information:

160 Preble St.
Portland, Maine 04101
(207) 791-2000

4. Jacob’s Ladder, Aurora, West Virginia

This Joint Commission-accredited substance abuse program for men is found on a working farm and involves wilderness treatment for addiction.

Because of this, patients are involved in the following forms of work therapy and traditional treatment methods:

  • chores around the farm
  • meditation in the morning and evening
  • lectures
  • education
  • structured free time

Jacob’s Ladder follows the 12-step philosophy and holds offsite recreational activities once or twice a week. They also offer traditional individual, group, and family therapy.

The Wilderness Therapy Program offered by Jacob’s Ladder includes:

  • fishing
  • camping
  • hiking
  • bouldering
  • rock climbing
  • skiing
  • Whitewater rafting
  • snowboarding

Location and contact information:

P.O. Box F
Aurora, West Virginia 26705
(304) 239-1214

5. Phoenix Outdoor, Old Fort, North Carolina

Phoenix Outdoor is a CARF-accredited inpatient rehab program that treats patients between ages 14 and 17 with a dual diagnosis. The staff adheres to the 12-step program as practiced by Alcoholics Anonymous.

Part of this drug rehab program embraces wilderness therapy, where the patient learns skills such as building traps, making fires, and hiking. Through these activities, they learn to deal with the emotions that come up while they struggle with these tasks.

At the end of the program, the patient is ready to be a mentor to new patients, help to lead meetings and engage in other activities along with the staff.

Location and contact information:

363 Graphite Rd.
Old Fort, North Carolina 28762
(877) 305-0904

6. Rocky Mountain Treatment Center, Great Falls, Montana

This addiction treatment center for adults is fully accredited and helps patients struggling with dual diagnosis through traditional addiction therapies and the 12-step program. They also have outdoor therapy and equine therapy at King’s Arena, a facility located nearby.

Outdoor therapy includes walking on nature trails, hiking, and tours of Montana’s parks and waterfalls.

This means excursions to Gates of the Mountains, Giant Springs, and other sites. This helps the patient’s physical and psychosocial health and enhances their cognitive functioning and bonds with their community.

Location and contact information:

920 4th Ave. North
Great Falls, Montana 59401
(406) 318-8056

7. Swift River, Cummington, Massachusetts

Open 24 hours, Swift River offers patients traditional addiction therapies such as detoxification, intensive outpatient programs, and partial hospitalization programs, as well as a wilderness program.

During their time in the wilderness of the Berkshire Mountains, the patient will learn survival techniques, such as making fires, building shelters, and cooking over a fire.

Other parts of the drug rehab program include mountain climbing, fishing, hiking, exploring, and learning to meditate in the wild. Aftercare is provided.

Location and contact information:

151 South St.
Cummington, Massachusetts 01026
(413) 200-7511

8. The Treehouse, Scurry, Texas

Found on a 40-acre campus, this rehab facility provides traditional addiction therapy such as family therapy, medication-assisted treatment to help patients through withdrawal, cognitive behavioral therapy, and aftercare.

The Treehouse is Joint Commission-accredited and also provides alternative addiction treatment in the form of equine therapy. Equine therapy is not simply horseback riding. The patient grooms, feeds, and exercises the horse, which gives them a sense of responsibility.

Learning how to ride and respond to the animal enhances self-worth and confidence. Equine therapy, like wilderness therapy, has proved especially effective in healing patients with co-occurring disorders.

Location and contact information:

6950 Shady Lane
Scurry, Texas 75158
(866) 332-7439

9. Wilderness Treatment Center, Marion, Montana

Found on a 5,900-acre dude ranch, this wilderness rehab program is for young men ages 14 to 24. This 35-bed ranch-based recovery center has been providing addiction treatment for nearly four decades.

Their 60-day inpatient treatment program comes with a 16- to 21-day experience in the wilderness. Besides this outdoor therapy, they have a 12-step program and a family program.

Wilderness Treatment Center follows the Minnesota Model, which utilizes the 12-step program with the support of professionals and peers who are in recovery to help patients heal from their addictions. Adventure therapy here includes horseback riding, canoeing, and hiking.

Location and contact information:

200 Hubbart Dam Rd.
Marion, Montana 59925
(406) 854-2832

How To Find Wilderness Alcohol And Drug Rehab Centers

Because there are wilderness rehab centers around the United States, an individual seeking recovery shouldn’t reject the idea of traveling to a rehab center away from home to find treatment.

A wilderness rehab program may be the best-fit addiction treatment for a person struggling with substance abuse. In this case, the journey to find the best rehab program will be worth the distance traveled.

Updated on July 23, 2020

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.

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