The Phoenix Outdoor: Teen & Adolescent Drug Addiction Treatment Program

Phoenix Outdoor is a program designed to help treat teens between the ages of 14-17 who are struggling with a variety of different psychological, behavioral, and substance abuse issues. (For teen girls struggling with substance abuse please visit our SUWS Program page.) Our highly trained and qualified staff can help bring about positive growth in teen boys that are dealing with problems including the following:

  • Drug Addiction & Substance Abuse
  • Defiant behavior
  • Family conflict
  • Depression
  • Negative peer relationships
  • School failure
  • Anxiety
  • Entitlement issues
  • Low self-esteem
  • Attention deficit
  • Anger issues

All photographs taken at SUWS of the Carolinas in Old Fort, NC on 01.07.13 for CRC Health. All photographs by Peter Taylor

At SUWS, the wilderness is the forefront of treatment and the 12-step treatment approach is infused into the daily activities of its students. 12-step exposure puts many tools in a student’s toolbox along with motivational enhancement, cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, neuro-feedback, and supplemental activities such as equine assisted therapy, yoga, mindfulness and meditation practices.

Recovery Support provides a guide for translating daily wilderness skills at SUWS into a 12-step recovery process so that when they leave the program, students have already been forming the habits of a 12-step lifestyle. By addressing the concepts embedded in the 12-steps through didactic instruction, time for reflection, opportunities to translate the steps into physical activity, and coaching of daily habits, counselors in the Phoenix Program for teen drug addiction & substance abuse foster a culture of support, positivity, and vulnerability among students. Ultimately, students are given the opportunity to practice the 12-steps and how they will be implemented outside of SUWS so they can envision how they can take the steps and run with them!  Throughout this process, counselors provide guidance and help students see a solution to their internal and external struggles through the framework of the 12-step program. We have found that students in the Phoenix program are easily able to attach meaning to the activities and structure they encounter, which enables them to use those metaphors as powerful tools of introspection and guidance.

When considering the 12-steps, steps 1 through 3 emphasize SELF-ACCEPTANCE and the decision to take action for self.  This occurs for a Phoenix student through acceptance of being in an unfamiliar environment, personal contemplation and reflection in a tranquil environment, and journaling.  Students are accepted into the Phoenix culture by other members of the group and staff that help minimize feelings of loss that may be experienced upon arrival. Steps 4 through 9 in the 12-step tradition relate to COURAGE. One faces the causes and conditions that triggered the drug abuse and recognizes resulting negative behaviors.  For the Phoenix student, he learns “hard” wilderness skills such as making fire, building traps and hiking. He deals with the difficult emotions that arise during these tasks (e.g. frustration, anger, sadness), comes to terms with his past, makes amends, takes ownership of his behaviors, and character development begins. He becomes a member of his community and group. Steps 10 through 12 incorporate WISDOM.  Here one starts to incorporate habits developed and prepares for how they will be carried to outside lives. The 12-step principle of Giving Back is a focus. The Phoenix student is becoming a leader of his group, is mentoring new members of the community, and is facilitating evening meetings and daily activities with field instructors. He continues to build character and focuses on service to others.

Phoenix students celebrate milestones of sobriety through ceremony including their graduation from the teen drug treatment program. At this point the groundwork has been laid by building familiarity with the principles of the 12-step model, its language and traditions. Students will carry these skills to support their own self- efficacy and to sustain recovery.

We invite you to learn more about the Phoenix Outdoor drug & alcohol addiction treatment program for boys by exploring our site and uncovering what makes us unique:

  • Discover how much learning and growth take place in a typical day in the life of a SUWS student
  • Obtain answers to many of your questions by visiting our Frequently Asked Questions page
  • Learn more about the many benefits of our wilderness expeditions
  • Read for yourself about the many safety protocols we implement to keep your child safe and sounds during their stay
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