Since 1970, Earth Day has existed as a global event celebrated by over 190 countries.
April 22nd marks the day when we celebrate and spread awareness about loving and caring for our home. But what does Earth Day have to do with addiction recovery? As the staff at our drug and alcohol treatment center in Illinois knows, being outdoors can greatly benefit a person’s recovery journey. The concept of caring for the earth by doing your best to remove any toxins or pollutants that could damage it is parallel to a person’s life in addiction recovery. Similar to caring for Earth, a person working on their sobriety is removing substances and other pollutants from their life in order to improve their health and their future.
Benefits of Celebrating Earth Day in Addiction Recovery
Earth Day and addiction recovery both involve a form of rehabilitation. Similar to a person minimizing their waste or going out and planting trees, a person in recovery may try to cut out the things that could cause them to relapse and implement sober lifestyle changes. Celebrating Earth Day in sobriety is about acknowledging the behaviors in your life that have had a negative impact, celebrating the positive changes you’ve made, finding new ways to grow and heal.
Earth Day is also about cultivating other living things and working to improve the health of the planet, which can produce some benefits. Working outdoors:
- Clears your mind and helps with stress
- Promotes physical activity
- Promotes concentration
- Allows you to set time aside for yourself
- Offers a rewarding feeling when you see results
- Increases sense of nurturing
- Improves immune system
- Promotes relaxation
- Improves mood
Healing in the great outdoors during recovery also encourages selflessness. Addiction is a selfish disease because it tends to have complete control over a person’s thoughts and behavior. A person with a drug or alcohol problem may often be focused on getting their next fix and not on other things. While this doesn’t mean the person is selfish, addiction has a way of bringing that trait out of people. When you’re planting trees or minimizing the amount of plastic you use, you’re working towards helping someone and something other than yourself; you’re working towards improving the state of the world for the sake of the planet itself and others who will continue to live here in the future.
While there are many ways to heal from addiction, the best first step to take is treatment. At Banyan Treatment Centers Chicago, we offer a residential treatment program that incorporates onsite, 24-hour care to help patients heal from their addictions without distractions.
Ways to Embrace Earth Day in Addiction Recovery
If you or someone you know is recovering from substance abuse, there are several ways to celebrate Earth Day that can promote healing and benefit sobriety.
Start a Garden
In addition to starting a beautiful flower garden, you can also reduce waste and help the planet by growing your produce. If you have the resources and space to do so, consider growing your own fruits and vegetables. If you don’t have an area where you can do it on your own, then try to find a local community garden that can give you the resources and space you need.
Join a Group
If you’ve ever been in a 12-step program or any other form of therapy that involved group sessions, then you may understand the benefits of joining a group for Earth Day. Most communities and neighborhoods have a group centered on maintaining environmental protections. If you want to celebrate Earth Day in recovery, consider joining a community environmental group. You can participate in clean-ups of beaches and other local areas and fight pollution by planting trees. This is also a great way to meet new people and make friends.
Plant a Tree
What better way to fight pollution than to plant a tree? Trees reduce greenhouse gases, clean the air, and keep the soil from eroding. Plant a tree somewhere you can see it every day and look forward to watching it grow.
Now is the perfect time to educate yourself on the planet and current issues with climate change and pollution. Many people don’t know where to begin when it comes to minimizing their wasting or doing their part to help the Earth, so it’s best to do your research so you can apply some realistic changes to your life.
Choose Local Food Sources
Locally-grown foods have less of an environmental impact than the big companies that mass-produce and sell products. For instance, buying locally requires less gas and less plastic than produce that’s delivered from a factory. This is also a great way to support local business owners.
Reduce Your Waste
While recycling is helpful and necessary, there are even ways to reduce the amount of waste you put in the recycling bin. Some ways to reduce your waste include purchasing foods and things that aren’t wrapped in plastic, using reusable bags when you go shopping so you don’t use plastic bags, drinking water from a reusable bottle, and shopping at thrift stores or gently-used clothing stores to minimize waste from fast fashion. By being conscious of your choices in the beginning, it diminishes the need to recycle.
Celebrating Earth Day is one of the many powerful relapse prevention strategies to try. While this may seem very beneficial to the planet, it’s also beneficial to the person who’s cultivating all of this change. Addiction can be lonely, isolating, and it mirrors poor health. Earth Day and addiction recovery are both about regaining strength and health that was lost as a result of poor decisions.