When Chris’* drug use spiralled out of control, he knew it was time to make some serious changes in his life.

The Outdoor Experience uses bush therapy to support young people.

“I was sick of it. I threw my drugs out of the car and I sat there for ages wishing I could get out of the situation,” he says.

Through a rehabilitation service which Chris engaged with for six months, he was referred to Jesuit Social Services’ The Outdoor Experience.

The Outdoor Experience is a community adventure and bush therapy program, which supports young people experiencing multiple and complex problems to make friendships and learn new skills.

The program partners with alcohol, drug and mental health services to achieve positive outcomes for young people.

“Our participants engage in safe and meaningful adventure activities with skilled outdoor educators, and we notice significant positive impacts on their physical and mental health, morale and strengthened relationships,” says The Outdoor Experience Coordinator Jenny Vran.

“We focus on helping young people develop relationships with nature and with other people. Through shared experiences, young people can develop a deeper understanding of the type of supports they need to reach their goals.

“The benefits they get from this are enormous.”

Chris says engaging with the program as part of his recovery gave him a new perspective on life.

“Our group went on a hike over Mount Bogong and I found out I’m stronger than I thought. I experienced the peace of the mountains and the bush.

“It made me want to become an outdoor educator.

“The main thing is that I’m not using drugs anymore which is a miracle.”

*not his real name

For more information, contact Jenny at jenny.vran@jss.org.au