Research Publication Title

Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare: Age and Severity of Relapse

Major

Physics

Faculty Mentor

Lee Gillis

Keywords

Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare, Substance Use Disorder, Mindfulness, Relapse, Severity, Age

Abstract

Substance use disorder (SUD) is a widespread problem throughout North America, with over half (54.1%) of SUD individuals first using when they are under the age of 18 (SAMHSA, 2018). Developing a drug disorder is heavily reliant on when the individual began to regularly abuse substances, with the most severe drug dependencies from an onset age of 15 and younger. While SUD is both behaviorally and mentally challenging to overcome, the disorder can be successfully treated. Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare (OBH) is an empirically researched treatment option for SUD that is respected among the professional healthcare community. Enviros Shunda Creek, a 10-bed, 90-day program located in Alberta, Canada, is one current facility employing OBH for young adult males with substance use disorder. Shunda Creek employs mindfulness-based experiences (MBE; Russell, Gillis, Heppner, 2016) alongside various measurement tools to monitor clients’ treatment progress to clearly measure the effects of OBH and Adventure Therapy. Adventure Therapy at Shunda Creek includes whiter water rafting, rock climbing, hiking, overnight camping, and river crossing. When individuals are admitted into treatment they receive the Substance Use Frequency Scale (SUFS), which records when the client started to use various substances. 90-days after program completion, participants are sent an Alumni Follow-Up survey on which they rate themselves on their progress and satisfaction in areas of work, relationships, finances, and the severity of their relapse, if any. The majority of participants do relapse after discharge from Shunda Creek, it is important to investigate possible relapse causality in order to more successfully treat SUD clients and mitigate future relapse severity. In this study, we are primarily interested in the relationship between onset age of drug use derived from SUFS and the individual’s relapse severity rating obtained from the Alumni Follow-Up survey.

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Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare: Age and Severity of Relapse

Substance use disorder (SUD) is a widespread problem throughout North America, with over half (54.1%) of SUD individuals first using when they are under the age of 18 (SAMHSA, 2018). Developing a drug disorder is heavily reliant on when the individual began to regularly abuse substances, with the most severe drug dependencies from an onset age of 15 and younger. While SUD is both behaviorally and mentally challenging to overcome, the disorder can be successfully treated. Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare (OBH) is an empirically researched treatment option for SUD that is respected among the professional healthcare community. Enviros Shunda Creek, a 10-bed, 90-day program located in Alberta, Canada, is one current facility employing OBH for young adult males with substance use disorder. Shunda Creek employs mindfulness-based experiences (MBE; Russell, Gillis, Heppner, 2016) alongside various measurement tools to monitor clients’ treatment progress to clearly measure the effects of OBH and Adventure Therapy. Adventure Therapy at Shunda Creek includes whiter water rafting, rock climbing, hiking, overnight camping, and river crossing. When individuals are admitted into treatment they receive the Substance Use Frequency Scale (SUFS), which records when the client started to use various substances. 90-days after program completion, participants are sent an Alumni Follow-Up survey on which they rate themselves on their progress and satisfaction in areas of work, relationships, finances, and the severity of their relapse, if any. The majority of participants do relapse after discharge from Shunda Creek, it is important to investigate possible relapse causality in order to more successfully treat SUD clients and mitigate future relapse severity. In this study, we are primarily interested in the relationship between onset age of drug use derived from SUFS and the individual’s relapse severity rating obtained from the Alumni Follow-Up survey.

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