‘Adventure therapy’ is a new form of therapy helping recovering addicts in Utah

Apr 15, 2020, 7:20 PM
recovering addicts...
Burke Priest (president of Adventures Anonymous) stands with two dirt bikes in southern Utah. (PHOTO:

SALT LAKE CITY — A new program is innovating the way recovering addicts can stay sober with the use of ‘adrenaline adventure therapy’.

Adventures Anonymous is a three-day program. In it, participants will test drive various pieces of equipment, hike to a hot spring and a natural stone arch. They’ll also participate in rock climbing and rappelling in southern Utah.

Burke Priest is the president of Adventures Anonymous. He believes this style of adrenaline therapy can greatly help recovering addicts stay on track.

As a former alcohol addict himself, Burke understands just how impactful this type of therapy can be.

“When you are pulling the throttle on a jet ski, on a snowmobile, on a motorcycle …  You can’t think about your past. You can’t think about what you did wrong,” Burke says. “When those things are happening and rebuilding new neural pathways your old ones are closing. Your guilt, shame, bad past is disintegrating,” Priest said.

Rebuilding neural pathways to help recovering addicts

Research on neuron morphology shows that with help from the continuous practice of new behavior, the brain can create new neural pathways. Studies show that the brain can also lose pathways that are no longer used.

Dr. Matt Woolley, a licensed clinical psychologist and assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Utah, describes neuron morphology as “cutting a new path in the forest.”

“Strong emotions, strong experiences, adrenaline, intoxication, these sorts of things can really quickly build [neural] pathways that are negative and take us to negative places,” Dr. Woolley said. “Being fully focused in the moment is a wonderful way to start rebuilding neural pathways.”

The success behind Adventures Anonymous

The program has been operating for less than a year. But it has already been successful.

“We’ve been in business less than a year now and I have successfully put fourteen people through the program,” Burke said. “Quite a few of the people who have gone through it had previously relapsed and tried several different recovery techniques and to this day … they’re all sober.”

The company currently has a 100% success rate with its participants. But, Burke understands that he’s not going to be able to completely fix someone’s addictive behaviors in three days.

“My goal is, I want to reset your compass,” Burke says. “If you’re in an airplane and you change your compass even one degree before you know it you will be going a totally different direction.

I’m not going to change everything about you in three days. I’m going to reset your compass.”

To learn more about the program and the work that Burke is doing, you can visit the Adventures Anonymous website here.

Listen to the podcast

For more information on addiction or if you or someone you know is struggling, you can find more information on Facebook, KSL TV, or from Use Only as Directed. To hear more from Casey Scott and Dr. Matt Woolley, you can listen below or subscribe to the ‘Project Recovery’ podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get major podcasts.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Project Recovery with Casey Scott & Dr. Matt Woolley

Josh Tilton

How a Utah recovery center is innovating treatment for substance abuse

A Utah recovery center owner is redefining how others find recovery after he struggled to live a substance-free lifestyle for years. Jordan Burningham, who was once addicted to heroin and struggling to stay sober, is in charge of one of the leading innovative recovery centers in Utah. He’s currently 6 years sober himself and through […]
10 months ago
Josh Tilton

How Instagram became an outlet for a mother struggling with addiction

After struggling for years with being able to stay sober, Gentry Jones turned to Instagram to try and help curb her addiction to alcohol and get her on the road to recovery. Gentry, now a mother of four kids, began to experiment with alcohol throughout her teenage years. Her substance abuse began to escalate as […]
11 months ago
Josh Tilton

Utah artist on how his addiction help fueled the creation of his new single “Tainted”

Growing up in a traditional Utah household, Tyler Gould was living the all-American dream. He was active in multiple sports and even a member of the Church of Latter-Day Saints. But after getting an itch to sell extra ADD medicine that he had laying around when he was fourteen years old, his life would never […]
11 months ago
Project Recovery host Casey Scott talks to Sarah Frei about their experiences with drunk driving cr...
Ashley Moser & Jared Turner, KSL TV

Sarah Frei Gives Emotional Interview About Losing Legs In Crash

Project Recovery podcast host Casey Scott sat down with Sarah Frei, the young woman who lost both of her legs in a crash caused by a drunk driver.
1 year ago
Coming to understand what Casey Scott’s addiction was truly like for his children only came recen...
Aley Davis & Debbie Worthen, KSL TV

Addiction Through A Daughter’s Eyes: How Teen’s Letter Impacted Casey Scott

Addiction is a family disease. It doesn't just affect the individual struggling, but everyone who loves them. Former KSL-TV feature reporter Casey Scott took that message to heart after reading a paper written by his 16-year-old daughter, Preslee.
2 years ago
promote safe prescription drug use...
Josh Tilton

Helpful ways to promote safe prescription drug use with Know Your Script

SALT LAKE CITY — Between 2017-2020, Intermountain Healthcare has been successful in reducing opioids by 9.5 million fewer pills and reducing benzodiazepine and opioid co-prescribing by 49%. All the while, finding ways to promote safe prescription drug use for Utahns within our state. According to Kim Compagni, AVP Pain Management Services at Intermountain Healthcare, we […]
2 years ago

Sponsored Articles

young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Types of Computer Malware and Examples...
PC Laptops

5 Nasty Types of Computer Malware and Examples | Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Computer and Family Safe

Here are the different types of computer malware and examples that could potentially infect your computer.
tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
cyber security through multi factor authentication setup...
Les Olson IT

How multi factor authentication setup helps companies stay safe

Multi factor authentication (MFA) setup is an important security measure that every company should implement for their workers. It’s also wise to install it for your personal and home accounts.
‘Adventure therapy’ is a new form of therapy helping recovering addicts in Utah