girl blowing bubbles

The Benefits of Making Rehab Fun


Sober Recovery Expert Author

girl blowing bubbles

As someone who went through the rehab system multiple times, I can still recall the dreaded detox stage. Even more, I specifically remember the second day when reality set in and the opiates and booze were finally leaving my body. Everything around me felt like a medical facility. There were few windows, hospital outfits, strange smells, board games and a deck of cards that looked like they’ve been through as much wear and tear as I have. This was my experience in 2009.

But is it any different now in 2016?

Researchers found that making rehab a process more similar to a camp or positive college experience can raise success rates by as much as 900%.

According to a 2013 research study conducted by Convalo Health and Dr. Mark A. Taylor, if the majority of rehabs aren’t making a change—they should be. In fact, researchers found that making rehab a process more similar to a camp or positive college experience can raise success rates by as much as 900%.

So what can rehab centers do to work towards this optimal environment? There are two main contributing factors to start considering.

1. Atmosphere

The study reports that atmosphere was ranked extremely high with adults and young adults who were asked about their mood and what bothered them on a daily basis. One group was in a standard rehab home with comfortable but bland furniture, white paint and no major decorations or works of art. The counterpart was in a colorful and aesthetically-pleasing downtown condo turned rehab that had several pieces of art on its walls, a game room and a workout room. Both rehabs were similarly priced. Interestingly enough, the group in the aesthetic home reported mood levels as much as three times less depressed than the mood levels and feedback from the plain home group. This was reported immediately on their second day and the mood levels continued increasing at roughly the same rate between the two facilities.

2. Physical Activity and Recreation

In another scenario, one group was kept to a regimen that looked like morning group, breakfast, afternoon group, free time followed by dinner and meeting. When the patients returned from meeting they had 2 hours of free time but were not given any direction or recreational suggestions. On the contrary, the sister rehab location injected activities ranging from yoga and hiking all before lunch, followed by a nap and yoga slot, followed then by dinner and a meeting and various group activities such as board games, exploring a haunted cemetery or movie night at the theater. Weekend days included more extreme activities like rock climbing and laser tag outings into their weekly routine. At the six month mark, 18 occupants of the fun rehab were still clean and sober while only 2 from the standard rehab reported the same.

Lasting Effects

After surveying the patients, it quite interesting to find that eleven times as many patients from the active and adventure style rehab group stayed clean 2 years later when the group was checked in on than of the clients at the more bland traditional treatment group. This conclusion shows that good treatment should hold a patient’s attention and interest. If you're an addict like me than it probably doesn't shock you horribly that such a simple idea is so effective.

For more information on this type of treatment whether it be detox, inpatient, outpatient or sober living for you or a loved one, please visit

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