Sustainability and Addiction Recovery: How Eco-Friendly Practices Can Aid in the Healing Process

As a concept, sustainability refers to the ability to meet your own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same. It is the balance between the economy, equity, and the environment. When it comes to addiction treatment, sustainability has the potential to promote recovery, allow for various mental health improvements, and provide individuals with a sense of purpose. This is the reason why many Pennsylvania substance abuse treatment programs incorporate sustainability as one of the core ideas behind the program. In this article, we will explain the connection between sustainability and addiction recovery, show you several eco-friendly practices you might want to adopt, as well as provide you with a few strategies to make the process easier.

The connection between sustainability and addiction recovery

Sustainability, also known as “eco-friendly living”, has the potential to improve not just your life, but the lives of countless others as well. The whole planet is in danger due to our current consumerism lifestyle and that all of us will have to adopt eco-friendly ways at some point. While we are not at that point just yet, that day is rapidly approaching.

person holding a potted plant
Sustainability, similar to addiction recovery, is all about nurture.

While it may be impossible to stop the wheels of civilization, we can adopt a more “green” lifestyle. This means cutting back on our resource depletion and incorporating eco-friendly practices into our lives. By doing so, not only will we help the planet and future generations, but we will be able to reap various benefits for ourselves. In other words, we will save energy, produce less waste, and save money by becoming more sustainable.

Sustainability also has a large role to play in addiction recovery. Many people who undergo one of the long term drug rehab Pennsylvania programs (especially inpatient programs) find that they do not know how to behave once sober. Adopting sustainable practices can provide that nudge in the right direction and start you off on a path to long-term recovery. Furthermore, these practices can also keep you on course throughout the recovery process, allowing you to always have something to do that is inherently good.

How can eco-friendly practices aid the healing process?

By adopting an eco-friendly mindset and practices, you can boost your addiction recovery by:

  • Reducing stress
  • Promoting mindfulness

Basically, eco-friendly practices are all about getting in touch with nature. Being exposed to natural environments is known to considerably reduce stress and improve your overall health at the same time. However, by actively doing something to nurture nature itself, the stress-relief component is enhanced even further. This is one of the primary reasons why so many alcohol rehab centers Pennsylvania combine their treatment programs with eco-friendly activities and calming environments. Various studies have shown that simply viewing representations of nature has a significant potential to reduce stress. By actively doing your part to preserve nature and contribute to a sustainable lifestyle, you might find that your stress will practically melt away!

Secondly, eco-friendly practices will inherently promote mindfulness. By living a sustainable lifestyle, you will find yourself thinking about many things that never crossed your mind before. Since mindfulness is practically essential in addiction recovery, it is easy to see how sustainability augments your recovery in a positive way.

There are many ways in which you can contribute to a sustainable lifestyle. What is important is that you choose to do what makes you feel good. By adopting an eco-friendly practice that you actually enjoy, you will get all of its benefits with few to no downsides.

person holding a coffee mug
There is no reason why you can’t adopt a sustainable lifestyle and feel good at the same time!

Eco-friendly practices that can be incorporated into addiction recovery programs

In terms of addiction recovery, adopting an eco-friendly practice can provide you with a way to manage your cravings and avoid relapse. While you are free to adopt as many sustainable practices as you are able to, some practices are simply better suited for addiction recovery programs. They include:

  • Gardening
  • Recycling
  • Using sustainable products

Of course, incorporating as many eco-friendly practices as you can manage will only help your recovery process. By having more things to occupy your mind, you will have less time to think about your addiction, after all. That being said, if you find that you have simply “bit more than you can chew” it is all right to cut down on some activities. The last thing you need to do is obsess over whether you have turned the lights off before you left home, after all. On the other hand, if you think you can introduce even more eco-friendly activities to your life, you can always visit one of the benzodiazepine rehab centers, for example, and ask how you can contribute to the community further. Every treatment center these days can point out various community activities that promote a sustainable lifestyle.

If you are looking to start right away, however, the best thing to do is to start with one of the eco-friendly activities that have been shown to provide the best results, such as gardening.


Have you ever wondered why almost every single treatment center today has a beautiful garden? The reason why there is always a garden around mental health institutions is that plants have a huge positive impact on people. There are many reasons why we tend to like plants, including:

  • Plants soften our man-made environment
  • Plants promote tranquility and relaxation
  • We can improve or change our environment through plants
  • Plants are responsive
person holding a potted plant on their head
Plants have the power to heal our bodies and minds.

Even a simple garden is much more than a collection of plants. It also represents effort and progress. Simply looking at a garden can provide you with a way to recharge your mind and reduce overall stress. However, once you get more involved with gardening, you get many other benefits such as:

  • Overall improvements to your mood
  • Decreased anxiety/depression symptoms
  • Greater sense of control
  • Improved concentration

Gardening is so powerful in addiction recovery that there is a whole therapy modality based on it. Horticultural therapy has shown great success and is slowly becoming an established therapy modality. While not many heroin rehab Pennsylvania centers incorporate horticultural therapy into their programs just yet, it is just a matter of time. When you think about it, gardening is a lot like addiction recovery. Sowing seeds and watching plants grow is quite similar to the journey of recovery, after all.

That being said, gardening is also not for everyone. Luckily, there are other eco-friendly activities that you can adopt, activities that may be even more popular than gardening. Let’s take a look at the most popular eco-friendly practice of today.


Recycling is becoming one of the most important practices, not only for people in addiction recovery but for people everywhere. The basic idea behind recycling is that it limits the need to create new raw materials by using recycled ones. There are certain rules of recycling that you will want to understand before you can maximize your efforts, however. Not everything can be recycled, after all, and some recycled materials are more valuable than others.

In terms of addiction recovery, recycling can benefit you in a variety of ways. First, you will simply have something to do. It can also become a part-time or even a full-time job. The difference between recycling and almost any other job is quite significant, as you will be contributing to the overall health of the planet if you choose to recycle. The fact of the matter is that many people in addiction recovery feel shame and guilt for their previous actions, and seek a way to make amends. Therefore, recycling is pretty much the perfect activity, as it will allow you to fill up your time with an activity that will improve both your physical and mental health and provide you with a feeling that you are doing something worthwhile with your life.

a recycling bag, promoting sustainability and addiction recovery
Recycling is one of the best ways to adopt a sustainable lifestyle.

While recycling and gardening are both great activities for people in addiction recovery, not everyone can commit to them. If you find yourself in a situation where you are unable to partake in any physical activities, there is yet another way in which you can incorporate a sustainable lifestyle.

Using sustainable products

If you want to benefit from a sustainable lifestyle but can’t commit to any active eco-friendly activities, using sustainable products is the next best thing. In fact, you can’t have a sustainable lifestyle without thinking about what you buy and consume. If you have ever attended an IOP Pennsylvania program, you already know that sustainability is a big part of it, and you might already be familiar with the philosophy of sustainable products. If you haven’t, here’s a quick checklist of what using sustainable products is all about:

  • Use products that consume less water
  • Avoid any products that have excessive packaging
  • Use products made of recycled materials
  • Use products that reduce energy consumption
  • Purchase only products with certified Eco-labels
  • Utilize environmentally friendly cleaners
  • Use biodegradable products

By adopting these practices, you will support the development of sustainable products around the world. The simple fact of knowing that you are doing something to help the planet is enough to get you the most of the benefits of a sustainable lifestyle.

Benefits of incorporating eco-friendly practices into addiction recovery

Regardless of which eco-friendly practices you choose to adopt, you can count on the following benefits:

  • Mental health improvements
  • A sense of purpose
  • Improved overall health
person holding their arms up
Adopting a sustainable lifestyle will improve your overall health.

The fact is that spending time on a sustainable lifestyle is time not spent worrying about your addiction. If you adopt even a few eco-friendly practices, you will find that your time will quickly fill up. This can be invaluable in addiction recovery, as more free time can be quite dangerous. If you are finding it difficult to start an eco-friendly lifestyle, however, check in with any of the dual diagnosis treatment centers Pennsylvania has to offer. These treatment centers fully understand the connection between sustainability and addiction recovery and can help set you on the right path.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at these benefits in a bit more detail.

Mental health improvements

First and foremost, “going green” will inevitably have you exposed to green spaces. This will considerably lower the risk of developing any stress-related disorders. If you already have such a disorder, being near green spaces will minimize its effects. Second, a sustainable lifestyle is all about the community. By adopting eco-friendly practices, you will meet many other like-minded individuals. Some of them might even share some of your experiences.

It is not unlikely that a sustainable community has several members that have undergone addiction treatment in the past. An example of this is the Reading Sustainable Community, which has many members from its drug rehab center Reading PA. Joining such a community may provide you with a sense of belonging. Once you feel that you belong somewhere, you may be further inclined to lead a healthy, sober, lifestyle.

A sense of purpose

Many people, especially those in recovery, struggle to find their purpose in life. In fact, the lack of purpose is what drives many toward substance use in the first place. Partaking in eco-friendly activities can provide you with that sense of purpose. Furthermore, going green will allow you to stimulate positive emotions, potentially leading to a happier life. It may not be evident immediately, but you will gain awareness and understanding through sustainability. After some time, you may even find that your purpose is to educate others about how they should treat the planet.

person contemplating sustainability and addiction recovery
Sustainability practices can provide you with much-needed purpose.

Even if you do not find your purpose in sustainability, ensuring that our planet is livable for future generations is incredibly fulfilling. No matter what, you will know that you are doing your part in preserving the planet and making it better for generations to come! The best part is that, while doing so, you will also start living a much healthier lifestyle.

Improved overall health

One of the most common benefits of going green is that you will adopt a more active lifestyle. Whether you are gardening, recycling, or using eco-friendly products, you will inevitably have to become more active. Both gardening and recycling will provide you with the necessary physical activity, while eco-friendly products will have you relying more on non-emission means of transportation.

The added activity will be incredibly helpful when it comes to your addiction recovery, as well. Even a light exercise can considerably increase your mood, after all. Furthermore, a sustainable lifestyle will also improve your overall diet, which will reduce numerous risk factors.

As mentioned previously, sustained living will also make you a part of a community, which is a huge part of the recovery process. In fact, getting support from community members may be critical in achieving a long-lasting recovery. This is why most treatment centers, such as the alcohol rehab center Allentown PA, provide easy access to community events and community activities. Belonging to a community improves mental health and may lead to lifetime relationships.

Becoming eco-friendly is not without its challenges, however. If you live in a city, for example, you may not be able to create your own garden. On the other hand, rural areas might make it difficult to commit to recycling. Luckily, there is always an answer.

Strategies for implementing eco-friendly practices in addiction recovery programs

If you want to augment your addiction recovery with eco-friendly practices but are unable to for one reason or another, you may need a strategy. Here are three strategies that may allow you to create a more sustainable lifestyle:

  • Partnering with local businesses
  • Creating community gardens
  • Spending more time in nature
person using a shovel
Gardening ain’t much but it’s honest work!

The great thing about sustainability is that it is an inherently good activity. In other words, doing what’s good feels good. For people in addiction recovery, doing good things will allow them to offset the negative aspects of their former addiction. Basically, even if you feel that you are somehow less because of your addiction (you’re not), creating a sustainable lifestyle will help you change your mind.

If you find yourself wanting to adopt eco-friendly practices but can’t find a sustainable community, the best thing to do is to talk with some of your local businesses.

Partnering with local businesses

These days, businesses are able to get numerous benefits if they go green. This creates a situation where a business will find it beneficial to partner with individuals. There are several ways of partnering with a business. First, you can become an employee dedicated to sustainability. Second, you can help your local business become greener by donating your time and effort. Of course, the latter will be much easier, but the former is far from impossible. Third, you can create your own business and provide green services to your local businesses.

Aside from providing you with things to do, creating your own sustainable businesses can also generate quite a bit of income for you. If you manage to develop your business enough, you will be in a position to help others manage their recovery, as well.

Creating community gardens

If you happen to live in a city and have no access to a backyard of your own and want to do some gardening, don’t worry. Every city has several community gardens that will allow you to practice your sustainability skills. You can join them either as a volunteer or an employee. A community garden will allow you to develop your green thumb, meet new people, and practice a sustainable lifestyle. Depending on where you live, however, there may be a waitlist. However, people in addiction recovery usually have a listing priority, due to how beneficial gardening is for them.

Here are some of the most famous Philadelphia community gardens you might want to check out:

  • Farm Philly
  • People’s Kitchen Garden
  • Kensington Corridor Trust
  • Glenwood Green Acres
  • Growing Home Community Garden
person doing gardening
Everyone can join a community garden!

You can also visit the PHS (Pennsylvania Horticultural Society) and find a list of community gardens closest to you. In fact, this might be the best idea, as most of the gardens on the list are extremely popular. To join a garden, you will want to go directly to it, as opposed to sending an email. While you are in the garden, you will most likely have an opportunity to lend a hand, learn something, and have a good time.

Spending more time in nature

If your circumstances simply do not allow for any of the other sustainable activities, spending more time in nature is the next best thing. By being surrounded by nature, you will become more and more mindful of the sustainable lifestyle, and the need for it.

Real-life sustainability and addiction recovery success stories

Over time, there have been many people who have proven the connection between sustainability and addiction recovery. Ryan Kyles, for example, founded the nonprofit organization Voices of Hope, which promotes sustainable living practices. Through VoH, many individuals have attained full recovery through sustainable living. Kyles, himself, was recovering from substance use at the time.

Nicklaus Suine, a musician who developed a substance use disorder, created sustainable farming practices to support his recovery. He started with a small farming operation in Michigan and is now an owner of a large chicken and vegetable farm. Suine is a prime example of how gardening can change someone’s life for the better.

Kristen Bell, an actress with a former substance use disorder, has chosen to become a sustainability and environment activist. She has made numerous changes in her life, such as using eco-friendly products and switching to a plant-based diet. Kristen is now healthier than ever!

Aside from Ryan, Nicklaus, and Kristen, there are many others that successfully combined sustainability and addiction recovery. They are the ultimate proof that the concept not only works but improves the lives of everyone involved as well. If you are struggling with addiction recovery, consider switching to a sustainable lifestyle. Who knows, you may be the next Ryan Kyles!

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