In developing the Alpha 180 program, we wanted to incorporate effective aspects of various modalities. With a background in traditional residential addiction treatment, I sought to expand my horizons by learning about the methods of wilderness therapy programs that I respect, such as Legacy Outdoor Adventures, Wilderness Treatment Center, and Red Oak Recovery. The latter, an innovative hybrid of residential and wilderness therapy models.

Touchstones of a wilderness experience include total immersion in the natural landscape, separation from technology, and use of ritual in facilitating internal transformation. As an aftercare provider based in downtown Austin, Texas, we needed to get creative about providing such an experience to our students.

Having witnessed the all-too-common stagnation a few months into the aftercare stage of recovery, we developed our own Rite of Passage. This off-site intensive takes place in the Hill Country of Texas a few months in to one’s stay at Alpha 180. Licensed clinicians utilize the natural setting, incorporating river crossing and a fire ceremony, while challenging the students to lean on one another in vulnerability and strength. Over four days, these brave young men have the opportunity to reconnect to their internal guide free from the distractions of modern society and technology.

Too often, the personal transformation accomplished in residential treatment, whether wilderness or other, becomes ungraspably distant as clients re-enter the “real world” and engross themselves in academic, vocational, and social pursuits. Aftercare programs’ heavy focus on life skills and socialization, while important, can overshadow the internal healing necessary for sustained recovery. By incorporating the Rite of Passage and other outdoor experiences, such as a recent week-long backpack trip through the Rockies, Alpha 180 hopes to more seamlessly connect the experiences of primary and secondary care. The result is young men secure in their brotherhood and confident in their ability to overcome barriers, whether in nature or the classroom.

Learn more about Wilderness Therapy at

About the Author:

Executive Director

Before relocating to Austin, Nico Doorn most recently served as an Outreach Coordinator for Cumberland Heights Treatment Center in Nashville, TN. Simultaneously, he was completing a graduate degree in Human Development Studies at Vanderbilt University where he served as the graduate assistant for Vanderbilt Recovery Support. During his involvement, this Collegiate Recovery Program grew in its reach and offerings receiving local and national attention…..CLICK HERE to read Nico’s full Bio.