For many, finding support after starting their recovery journey looks like attending a regular AA meeting, meeting with their mentor for coffee, or serving as a peer mentor to help others seeking freedom from addiction. For partners in life and recovery, Millie Jones, 39, and Bryan Maasch, 39, it looks like a long hike in the woods with friends in recovery during Active Adventure.

“When I was going through the program at Healing Transitions, we used to have class at the chapel in Dix Park, and I just remember walking through the park and starting to notice the green trees and the blue sky and nature again,” said Bryan. “I just started to appreciate those simple things and that park became a sanctuary for me at that time in my life.”

For Bryan and Millie, their newfound freedom from addiction is thanks in part to nature. 

“When I left here, I started exploring parks, just getting out there in nature and hiking, and it was just so beneficial for me and my recovery,” shared Bryan. “It helped my mental health, physical health, and my spiritual fitness too, and I felt like others could benefit from it as well.” 

Last spring, Bryan told his girlfriend, Millie, that he wanted to start Active Adventure for other Healing Transitions’ participants and alumni, and she knew it was a great idea. 

“We thought we could just start by leading a hike through Umstead Park,” she remembered. “There’s a trail that leads from the Women’s Campus through the park, so we put up a sign-up sheet and invited people to join us.”

And with that, Active Adventure was born. 

On that first hike, two women, three men and a handful of alumni and staff joined them, and it continued to grow from there. 

The beautiful thing about Active Adventure isn’t just the outdoor community and camaraderie that it provides participants. It’s also the built-in support network that gives individuals additional opportunities for accountability and encouragement in their recovery, and research has shown that individuals in recovery who help others with their recovery are more likely to maintain recovery over time. Depending on the time of year, the group has hiked, kayaked, swam and adventured all across North Carolina.

“I love nature and hiking, but what I’ve enjoyed most about Active Adventure is the fellowship, the connections that I’ve made with women in the group,” shared Millie. “Seeing people who never thought they would like hiking, or even being outdoors, keep coming back each month is so beautiful.”

For Brian, the best part is the sense of belonging that inspires him. 

“Recovery has so many features. 12-step programs, sponsorship, meetings. But the most important thing in my mind is the fellowship, the sense of belonging. If you don’t have that in your recovery, you’re not going to succeed.”

 Creating those connections for everyone in Active Adventure, whether they’re early in their recovery or they’ve been in recovery for years, is the goal for Millie and Bryan with every Active Adventure experience. They call it the “no concern zone,” the place where men and women in recovery can get away from the pressures of their daily lives, step into nature, and just be present. Have fun. Relax. Be mindful and experience the beauty of life together.

Interested in joining the next Active Adventure adventure with Millie, Bryan and some new friends in recovery?

Contact (919) 332-1690 and follow them on social media!

Instagram: @activeadventure_est.2023

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