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Gardening As A Recovery Tool

Getting clean from drugs and alcohol requires a strict recovery regimen, detoxing, therapy and a few extra unconventional tactics. At least, that has been our formula for success and it has worked rather well. Interestingly enough, it’s the unique methods (such as archery therapy and music classes) that can often resonate most with a sober home resident. Well now, another therapeutic approach has proven itself successful; specifically outdoor gardening.

As recently reported by The Fix’s website, several recovery homes across the globe have begun successfully implementing gardening therapy into their regimen. This can include work with flowers, trees, shrubs and even mowing lawns. It’s the discipline, regimen and nurturing elements that appear to make this method so helpful.

The Fix site actually interviewed a leader in this type of recovery therapy. Her name is Victoria O’Dwyer and she, herself, is a former addict. Now, though, she runs her own UK-based sobriety program called “Putting Down Roots.” From what she’s seen so far, gardening work can improve both mental and physical health, making it a great therapy for people getting over depression or anxiety.

“I enjoy helping others who have found themselves in a less preferable situation, and being an example of that you can actually pull yourself out,” O’Dwyer proudly told the site. “This program teaches gardening skills to people, using ecotherapy to support recovery and improve physical and mental health.”

Victoria went on to describe her own harrowing journey with substance abuse. Alcohol and drugs had a firm grip on her throughout her 20’s and 30’s, ultimately leading to a rehabilitation stint. It was there that she was first introduced to gardening therapy, which brought her back to the joys of her youth.

When discussing her early years, O’Dwyer made an interesting comparison between agriculture and the life of someone losing control.

“I’d always had gardens growing up,” she explained. “Actually, my garden was always a good indication of where I was with my well-being—if I felt good, it was buoyant and green. If I was partying hard, my garden was full of weeds and uncared for.”

Of course, we all want our lives to be buoyant, lush and healthy. Which is why gardening therapy can be a very useful tool as people grow and evolve out of addiction. Plus, it can add a much needed calming effect to daily life.