PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — With the drug overdose epidemic reaching record numbers in and around Philadelphia, there’s renewed emphasis on addiction treatment programs. Some involve help from horses.
Equine therapy has been used for a variety of situations. It’s been shown that horses can help people overcome all sorts of problems. Now, recovering drug addicts are getting their lives back together with visits to a Bucks County farm.
The beauty and tranquility of nature is helping 23-year-old Emily Coll stay sober.
“It got to a point where everything just came crumbling down,” Coll said.
After years of being addicted to alcohol and drugs, Coll is putting her life back together in addiction recovery with the Livengrin Foundation and their farm team program.
She says her favorite part is the peacefulness and how open it is.
At the Harmony Hollow Run Farm in Lambertville, recovering addicts do chores and work with the horses.
“I felt more connected when he looked at me.”
With equine therapy, Coll is learning to interact with horses to face and overcome fears.
“There is something about the horse,” said Brad Langenberg, an equine therapist at the Livengrin Foundation. “He’s just there. He’s always present. He’s 100 percent there.”
Langenberg knows about the powers of addiction having spent 10 years on drugs. Now he’s helping others in recovery, sharing the healing power of horses and life on the farm.
“I bring people out into nature like this,” he said. “It starts to open up doors and boundaries and walls come down.”
“That brings back a huge piece that I lost in my addiction, which is confidence and being able to stand firm in who I am,” Coll said. “That’s the biggest thing I get out of it, honestly.”
Now believing in herself again, Coll is learning new lessons on the farm — lessons of responsibility and trust.
“It’s an amazing opportunity for them to gain that confidence they’re going to need when they go back to their lives, jobs and loved ones,” said Scott Blacker, Livengrin Foundation Vice President.
The equine program is one of many offered by Livengrin, which offers residential and outpatient addiction treatment.