Aspen Achievement Academy Introduces Specialized Recovery Program for Teens Struggling with Substance Abuse

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A new recovery program at Aspen Achievement Academy utilizes wilderness therapy to help teens recognize the need for change and take the first steps toward lasting sobriety.

The wilderness has a unique ability to break through denial. Teens go from saying, ‘I don’t have a problem’ to ‘I have a problem and I know what I need to do next.’

Teens who are struggling with drug or alcohol abuse are making impressive strides at Aspen Achievement Academy, one of the longest running, most reputable wilderness therapy programs for teens in the country. That’s because the academy recently introduced a specialized recovery program designed to help adolescents recognize their drug problem and start down the path toward recovery.

The primary goal of the new program is to guide teens through the first stage of recovery by helping them admit their powerlessness over drugs and alcohol and recognize the need for change.

Students in the recovery program gather for 12-Step groups every morning and evening in the field, and get perspectives from adults in recovery through 12-Step meetings hosted by speakers from Passages To Recovery, a neighboring wilderness therapy program for young men.

Teens also complete a series of therapy assignments about substance abuse and recovery, including writing their life story, a drug inventory and letters of accountability and completing workbook assignments relating to Steps 1 through 3 of the 12 Steps.

“There’s no better setting to work Step 1 than in the wilderness,” said Troy Faddis, MS, LMFT, CFLE, the clinical director at Aspen Achievement Academy. “The wilderness has a unique ability to break through denial. Teens go from saying, ‘I don’t have a problem’ to ‘I have a problem and I know what I need to do next.’”

In the wilderness, teens get away from drugs, alcohol and negative peer influences and have time to look at themselves and understand their behaviors in a new way. With guidance from a dedicated team of therapists and field instructors, and the experience of living in close quarters with a group of peers, teens begin to recognize the consequences of their actions.

Living in nature also helps teens realize that there is much more to the world than just themselves. By identifying something greater than themselves, teens experience a spiritual awakening, not just a mental one.

“Mother Nature’s consequences have a way of exposing all excuses,” said Faddis. “The wilderness is like a mirror that lets teens see themselves as they are, without all the make-up they’ve been hiding behind. Being connected to the environment has a profound impact that is just as important as therapy and everything else we do here.”

The therapists at Aspen Achievement Academy have expertise in multiple disciplines including substance abuse, dual diagnosis, and process addictions such as compulsive gambling and video game addiction. Many of the staff are in recovery themselves and have first-hand experience working the 12 Steps in their own lives.

As part of the recovery program, teens participate in:

  •     Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  •     Relapse prevention planning
  •     Internal family systems therapy
  •     Dialectical Behavior Therapy, to learn new skills such as mindfulness, emotional regulation, interpersonal effectiveness and distress tolerance
  •     An introduction to the 12 Steps through 12-Step assignments, meetings and group therapy

The therapists at the academy work with teens to create relapse prevention plans by helping them evaluate their patterns of use and abuse, including the strengths that kept them sober in the past and the weaknesses that led to relapse. The staff also works with parents to help them understand the disease of addiction and develop an aftercare plan for their child.

“On average, teens in the recovery program do at least two hours of recovery work a day,” said Faddis. “But the recovery program is about more than therapy and assignments – recovery is built into our culture.”

About Aspen Achievement Academy

Aspen Achievement Academy is a wilderness therapy program located in the high desert of southern Utah that provides “at risk” adolescents ages 13 to 17 with experiences that promote the development of self-discipline, confidence, problem-solving skills and a healthy lifestyle. Using insight-oriented individual, group and family therapy and modern rites of passage, troubled teens identify healthy ways to bridge the gap between adolescence and adulthood.

Aspen Achievement Academy is a program of Aspen Education Group, the nation’s leading provider of therapeutic education programs for struggling or underachieving young people. Aspen’s services range from short-term intervention programs to residential treatment, and include a variety of therapeutic settings such as boarding schools, outdoor behavioral health programs and special needs summer camps, allowing professionals and families the opportunity to choose the best setting to meet a student’s unique academic and emotional needs.

Aspen Education Group is a member of CRC Health Group, the most comprehensive network of specialized behavioral care services in the nation. For over two decades, CRC Health has been achieving successful outcomes for individuals and families.

For more information, please call (866) 515-5202 or visit Aspen Achievement Academy.

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Gil Hallows
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