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Horticultural Therapy

Horticultural Therapy for an Effective Recovery from Addiction

Horticultural therapy is a great way to spend time while you’re recovering from addiction. There are many kinds of therapies that you can try and horticultural therapy is just one of them. If you like plants or if you’d like to know if you have a green thumb, then you can take this opportunity to discover your gardening talents.

Horticultural Therapy: What is it?

Horticultural therapy is a kind of therapy where individuals are engaged in gardening. It is done in such a way where through gardening, these individuals will be able to achieve their rehabilitation and therapeutic goals.

Gardening is a very accessible form of therapy. People can immediately enjoy the benefits of gardening. Most recovering addicts don’t know what to do when they are not taking drugs or drinking alcohol. By engaging in horticultural therapy, they get to be exposed to new activities.

This form of therapy does not only provide an activity for people in addiction recovery but it also creates a sense of community. In a community garden, for example, people will have the opportunity to interact with other gardeners. They can share ideas about the best ways to grow plants and how to best take care of the garden. Many goals can be met with horticultural therapy.

Horticultural Therapy: What is it

How does Horticultural Therapy Work?

Horticultural therapy is also called gardening therapy. It is a relaxing and enjoyable activity that you can do outdoors. Anyone can engage and participate in this kind of activity, especially those who are recovering from an addiction.

This kind of therapy involves simple tasks. You can cultivate the soil, plant, water, rake leaves, or mow. Such activities do not require so much from you. You can simply take the time to reflect and allow your mind to wander.

By gardening, you get the chance to be closer to nature. It is this kind of bond that you may not have enjoyed before. Because of your substance abuse, you may have isolated yourself not just from people but from nature as well.

Being in nature is good for us. It can relax us and makes us feel calmer. You don’t have to have a big garden to enjoy the benefits of horticultural therapy. You can do it either indoors or outdoors. If you don’t have space, you can start by taking care of potted plants.

What’s important is for you to start doing something that can help you in your recovery. Gardening therapy is known to help reduce stress and lower your blood pressure. It also helps a lot in improving your mood and emotional well-being.

The good thing about gardening is that it makes you move around. You may not know it but you’re already working out. Soon enough, you will see your plants blossom. It will make you feel a sense of fulfillment that you have done something good. It is a mutual relationship between the gardener and the plants.

Top Benefits of Horticultural Therapy for Addiction Recovery

In the same way that other therapies for addiction recovery are helpful and beneficial, horticultural therapy has its own set of benefits. Keeping a garden is therapeutic. It can give you the opportunity to interact with the many healing elements found in nature.

Your garden can be either active or passive. It depends on the design of the garden as well as your needs. Therapeutic gardens have many other sub-types. Some of them include restorative gardens, healing gardens, and rehabilitation gardens. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of engaging in horticultural therapy for your addiction recovery.

Gardens can Improve Your Social Skills

When you were addicted to illicit substances or alcohol, the main focus of your life was acquiring and consuming those drugs. You forget how it is to communicate with other people. If you can get the chance to participate in a community garden, it would be a great way to relearn those skills. You will have plenty of opportunities to talk and interact with other gardeners.

In a community garden, there is usually a particular master gardener. He or she can give the other gardeners guidelines on how to tend to the community garden. It is in this way that taking care of this kind of garden is also a team effort. You can communicate with the other gardeners so that the team can understand how to better grow the community garden.

Get Plenty of Exercise through Gardening

When you work in your garden, you can have a physical activity that ranges from mild to intense. You get to lift and stretch which is a good thing. As a recovering addict, exercise can provide you with a new routine. It is also good for your mind and body, of course. Exercise can give you that natural high because of the dopamine release when you’re moving around and working on your garden.

Sure, there are plenty of other ways to exercise. You can always go to your local gym and get on the stationary bike or the elliptical machine. However, doing routines in the gym can get a bit boring after some time. With gardens and horticultural therapy, you won’t even notice that you’re working out. It’s fun and it won’t get boring. You will always have something new to do. And it would be nice to see your flowers bloom after a while. It will surely be a rewarding sight.

Exposure to More Sunlight

Because of our body’s exposure to sunlight, it can produce Vitamin D. This vitamin is highly important for the proper functioning of our body. It is also the vitamin that most addicts lack. Many addicts to do have enough Vitamin D because of their unhealthy lifestyle. They are up at night and asleep during the day. They don’t get enough exposure to sunlight.

With horticultural therapy, you can get a lot of sunlight because you’re out in the garden tending to your plants. You will be more encouraged to get out because gardening is a fun activity. And since you get the sunlight that you need, your body will produce more Vitamin D. You will start to notice that you’re becoming more mentally alert and energetic.

Reduces Your Anxiety

While you are in your recovery from addiction, it is easy to become anxious. There are so many changes happening to your life and to your body. Sometimes, you don’t understand why you’re feeling a certain way. It is scary and it makes you so anxious that you just want to shut the world out. The withdrawal symptoms that you are experiencing contributes a lot to this anxiety.

But if you engage in horticultural therapy, there’s something that you can do that can take your mind away from the negative feelings. It is therapeutic to work in a garden. You can see your plants growing. You can observe them develop from seedlings into full-grown plants and you’ll feel proud of yourself.

Keeping a garden gives you a sense of responsibility and you get to enjoy the benefits of having one. When the flowers bloom, you will feel as though they bloom especially for you. And you get to have this good feeling that you can take care of something. It will not only be a relaxing activity, but it will also be highly rewarding.

Improves Your Self-Confidence

Because of your addiction, you’ve done a number of wrong decisions in your life. You may think that there’s no way out for you and you’re stuck at rock bottom. It is not true. For as long as you’re alive, there’s always a way to make things better.

Your self-confidence and self-esteem may be down but don’t worry. You can work that out if you want to. There are many ways to get your sense of self back again. You only have to start with baby steps. There are a number of therapies that you can try so that you can exercise building your self-confidence again.

With horticultural therapy, you are helping things grow. You water the plants, take out the weeds, and cultivate the soil. When they grow beautifully, you can feel proud of yourself because you know that you were the one responsible for such beauty.

You will then start to think that if you can affect living things in a positive way, then you can certainly make changes to your life that will also produce positive results. Your self-confidence will blossom wonderfully in the same way that your plants do.

Improves Your Focus

To be an effective gardener, you have to put your mind into what you’re doing. You can’t just do things absent-mindedly. Growing a beautiful garden means that you should be focused on that goal. You have to be mindful of the details so that your plants will grow well.

For example, it is important that you know when the right time to plant should be. The spacing between the seedlings is also vital. You shouldn’t overwater the plants and they should get enough sunlight. All these details should be something that you pay attention to.

So, growing a garden and practicing horticultural therapy is definitely one of the best ways that you can improve your focus. You get to see the little details and know what’s the appropriate thing to do about it. It is one of the skills that you can learn from gardening which you can apply to other aspects of your life.

How does Horticultural Therapy Work

Helps You Deal with Anger

There may be a lot of emotions going on inside you. Some of those feelings include frustration, sadness, and anger. These emotions may be negative but they are normal. Every one of us feels these emotions. What you can do is make sure that you deal with them in a healthy way so that they won’t creep in and affect you negatively.

Gardening is among the ways that you can release your anger and frustrations. In the same way that it can help you with feelings of anxiety, horticultural therapy can also help with other negative feelings.

Instead of nursing your anger, you can take care of your garden. Doing that will change your focus. Gardening can calm you and make you relax. You can think more clearly as to why you feel a certain way. It will allow you to sort out your feelings and start to channel them into something more productive like gardening.

You’ll Get Better Sleep

Because of your drug or alcohol use, your sleep pattern may have changed. It’s possible that you’re not getting enough sleep or that you’re sleeping too much. Either way, it’s not good for your health. When you try gardening, you will have the chance to exercise and get enough sunlight. It will help you create a more balanced sleep.

Sleeping well is important when you are recovering from your addiction. What you need is for your body to rest so that it can heal. Also, it will give you a routine that is necessary to ensure that you are working towards a healthier lifestyle.

When you sleep and wake up at a particular time, you can have more structured days. It means that you can do more and feel more productive. You won’t only get to do gardening, you can also discover other types of activities. It will be a fun and exciting time for you.

Related article: Sober Activities to Enjoy When Recovering from Drug Addiction 


Horticultural therapy is an amazing way to spend your time while you are in addiction recovery. It is therapeutic and relaxing. You can do it anytime you want. The best thing about it is that you can do your gardening alone or with a group. It’s a good way to meet other people who enjoy gardening as you do.

Recovery from addiction is not just about ending your bad habits. It is also about finding other activities that can replace bad habits with healthier ones. Gardening is definitely one of the activities that you can try. Even if you think you don’t have a green thumb, you’ll enjoy learning about the different techniques on how to grow a beautiful garden.