Hiking events

The Report: Hike to Heal

May 4 – For people recovering from substance use disorders, it can be difficult to find sober activities.

This can be particularly difficult in the Monadnock area, with many social outings organized in bars or at events, such as sports games, surrounded by alcohol.

To help, Reality Check — a Jaffrey nonprofit that offers drug and alcohol prevention resources, education and recovery services — is launching a hiking group for people in recovery this summer. , aiming to use the region’s vast outdoor spaces to help people heal.

The idea was pioneered by Sarah Desaulniers, substance use prevention specialist at the Turnpike Road facility. She is an avid hiker and understands how beneficial exercise outdoors can be.

“For people in recovery in particular, what they get when they use drugs is dopamine…and exercise gives you the same thing,” she said.

“It allows you to get out of the house and do something,” she added. “And that gives you people to do things with.”

Regular exercise can benefit everyone, but especially those with a history of substance abuse. When combined with other types of treatment, exercise can help prevent relapses by providing a reliable routine, filling free time, managing mental health, and boosting self-esteem.

Nelson Hayden, executive director of The Doorway in Keene, said the benefits of hiking are “tremendous” for those recovering.

In addition to the various physical benefits – such as improved cardiovascular health, muscle strength and bone density – hiking allows people to absorb the powers of nature, such as vitamin D from sunlight. and fresh air, according to Hayden.

Those who exercise regularly also tend to be in a better mood and lower their anxiety, he noted.

“I’m happy that [Reality Check] do this as a group because the social connection of people recovering together is invaluable, he said in a text.

Desaulniers echoed that, saying it can be difficult for recovering people to find sober friends.

“If you’re someone who’s recovering, chances are you’ve lost a large group of friends…” she explained. “Especially for people around my age, in their early twenties, alcohol…is so normal everywhere you go.”

People who are not recovering are also welcome to join the group, Desaulniers said, such as those who have lost a loved one to addiction or anyone who wants to participate in sober activity.

The free hiking group, called Rogue Recovery, will meet on the first Sunday of every month, starting June 5. Hikes will be easy or moderate, Desaulniers said, so all levels of experience are welcome. (Pets can also follow, as long as the trail allows).

The first hike will be at 10:30 a.m. at Temple Mountain in Temple, with the group meeting at the Route 101 trailhead. If needed, people can park at Reality Check at 17 Turnpike Road before 10 a.m. and drive to the trail. Those who entirely need transportation can carpool with other group members, Desaulniers said.

The hikes will run until October, when the weather turns cold. Depending on how things go in its first year, Desaulniers said the group hopes to hike every two weeks in 2023 and start earlier in the year.

Those who wish to participate can join Reality Check’s Rogue Recovery Facebook group.

“I wish I could support people through this,” Desaulniers said, “and help them heal their mind, their body, their soul.”

This article originally appeared in The Check-Up, the new weekly email newsletter from The Sentinel’s Monadnock Area Health Reporting Lab. To sign up for the newsletter and get the latest news from health journalist Olivia Bélanger delivered to your inbox for free every Monday, visit sentinelsource.com/newsletters/newsletters_signup

Olivia Belanger can be reached at 603-352-1234 ext. 1439 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @OBelangerKS.