Wilderness-based recovery centre opens its doors today

September 22, 2023

ROCKY MOUNTAIN HOUSE – More clients than ever before can access a unique wilderness-based addiction and mental health treatment program at the new Shunda Creek Recovery Centre, which celebrated its official grand opening earlier today.

Operated by Enviros under contract to Alberta Health Services (AHS), the Shunda Creek Recovery Centre is a 12-week, wilderness-based addiction and mental health recovery program for males ages 18 to 24.

Following a relocation late last year to a new, larger facility west of Rocky Mountain House, additional beds have been opened, increasing the program’s capacity to 18 clients, from 10.

“Our government is proud to invest in a system centred around recovery, offering hope for those suffering from the deadly disease of addiction. I am pleased to see this unique and valuable recovery opportunity guiding more individuals down the path of recovery,” says Dan Williams, Minister of Mental Health and Addiction.

“The expansion of the Shunda Creek Recovery Centre will go a long way providing even more addiction and mental health treatment in a fun environment outdoors,” adds Jason Nixon, MLA, Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre and Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services. “I look forward to seeing the positive difference this program will make in the lives of young men in Rocky Mountain House and across the province.”

Funded by AHS and Alberta Mental Health and Addition, the program has been providing intensive adventure-based wilderness programming for young men since 2009, helping address substance and mental health issues that require live-in treatment and support.

“We are absolutely thrilled that we’ve been able to not only relocate but that we’ve been able to expand our capacity to continue providing this invaluable program,” says Enviros CEO Hazel Bergen. “We are grateful for the support of AHS, the provincial government, and our alumni, staff and supporters who believe so strongly in this program.”

Individuals in the program participate in outdoor activities, such as canoeing, hiking, rock climbing and camping trips, which supplement individualized treatment plans that can include stabilization programs, as well as one-on-one and group therapies.

“Shunda Creek provides a unique treatment approach for young Alberta men,” says Kerry Bales, Senior Program Officer with AHS Addiction and Mental Health. “The program has proven successful, and we’re pleased to continue partnering with Enviros to support individuals with substance use disorder in their recovery journey.”

Upon completion of the program, participants can access the Shunda Creek Alumni aftercare program in which they have opportunities to talk online and in-person with peers who have shared experiences.

“Guys are facing what feels like the end of the road when they get here,” says Robert Long, a Shunda Creek alumnus who takes part in the aftercare program after completing his own recovery journey.

“Everyone goes through recovery differently and we need programs that meet people where they’re at. Having a program like this that’s based in the wilderness helps in ways a city program can’t. What has been built out here is helping to push the field of adventure therapy forward and we help guys work through this disease that puts them into the depths of despair and isolation.”

Founded in 1976, Enviros has grown from a single wilderness program to an agency with 13 programs in the areas of addiction recovery, homelessness prevention, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) assessments, youth justice, group homes, foster care, respite care, and supports for youth who are transitioning out of the system. Enviros’ mission is to partner with young people and families to take charge of their lives and actively choose the direction it takes.

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Our mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans. Our current focus is on reducing emergency department wait-times, improving EMS response times, increasing access to surgeries, and improving patient flow.