On the road to recovery, many adventures
‘We don’t retreat, we do adventures,” is the slogan of Spiritual Adrenaline Adventures, new active group trips for travelers in recovery from substance abuse and addiction. Three trips are on the calendar for 2019 — to Machu Picchu in Peru (April 6-14, $3,545), Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies (Aug. 29-Sept. 2, $2,650), and the Azores, the islands off Portugal’s coast, next summer (details not yet available). The first two will be operated by Out Adventures and the third by BodyRoots, run by an Azorean-born New Yorker.
All trips will focus on adventure, sobriety, meditation, nutrition, fitness, and 12-step program components, with high-end lodging and healthy meals, said Tom Shanahan, founder of Spiritual Adrenaline, an active online community of people in recovery who are focused on healthy lifestyles. Shanahan said typical 12-step programs often include copious amounts of coffee, sweets, and cigarette smoking, which can run counter to becoming healthier.
“I’m seeing an emerging movement in the recovery community to integrate a healthy lifestyle into 12-step and other recovery methods,” said Shanahan, a practicing lawyer in New York City and a frequent visitor to Portland, Maine, where he said he “got sober” in 2011. He was living there while taking care of his brother, who had become paralyzed in a skiing accident. “Portland has a great recovery community — I go back and forth all the time.”
The trips are an extension of the online community Shanahan started in 2016, which rethinks the unhealthy recovery lifestyle and offers wellness tips and support.
“I’ve seen many sober yoga retreats, but nobody was integrating adventure travel,” said Shanahan, a hiker who has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with Out Adventures and plans to go to Nepal and Mount Everest base camp with the group in fall. “Every time I climb a mountain, I’m a step closer to being healthy and a step away from being an addict.”
Out Adventures creates trips for gay men and their friends and families, but Shanahan, who is gay, said that the Spiritual Adrenaline Adventures trips are for anyone in recovery, along with their families and allies and are not targeted to the gay community.
Not only are the debut destinations “stunning and spiritual places with connections to the earth and our roots,” he said, the added features that Out Adventures is putting together make them perfect for people in recovery.
“We’ll have 12-step meetings, integrated walking meditations, and yoga with positions geared toward different elements of the 12 steps,” he said. “Also, in Peru, the shaman culture is very interesting, but it often contains an element of using local plant-based drugs. We’ll be visiting with healers, but without the use of drugs.”
Perhaps the biggest difference, said Shanahan, whose book “Spiritual Adrenaline: Nourish & Strengthen Your Recovery,” will be published in January, is that travelers will be able to “take the mask off. There’s a stigma, if you don’t drink, or, if you’re honest about it, people want to coddle you. Overall, it impacts the vibe. One of the critical things that makes recovery work for people across the board is building healthy, active communities. Those who do have a much higher rate of success.”