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Outdoor Recovery Project helping recovering addicts stay clean

LA CROSSE, Wis. - One of the major pitfalls for recovering addicts is not being able to find things to do in place of the drugs and alcohol. It's a problem one local group is working hard to solve.

Coulee Council on Addictions recently started a new program that gives people the opportunity to take part in weekly outdoor events.

It's the brainchild of two recovering addicts.

The program not only gives people the opportunity to try new things like kayaking, canoeing and stand-up paddle boarding, but also serves as a support network.

"(I get to) try new things, meet different people and then also do fun activities with other people who don't use," said Ryan Lease, a recovering addict.

Everyone who attends the events is recovering from drugs or alcohol.

Lease is recovering from both.


Currently, I have eight years clean," said Lease. "The drugs and the alcohol were sort of the solution -- I just didn't understand how to live appropriately."

A yoga session is this week's activity for the Outdoor Recovery Project.

"It really treats addictions on a holistic level," said Keith Lease.

The group received a $15,000 grant earlier this summer from the Robert and Eleanor Franke Charitable Foundation to help make these weekly outdoor events a reality, and it's giving these people more of a reason to stay clean.

"Boredom is one of the main triggers for people to relapse and go back to using," said Keith Lease. "The fellowship of it -- so getting out and meeting new people and finding different things that we like -- a lot of times when we're using, that's our whole behavior and so we forget what we like to do to actually have fun without those things."

The road these recovering addicts have taken hasn't been easy, but they say it's worth it for a better life.

"I don't want to do that again, and so continuing to be a member in recovery, doing these outdoor recovery things and being surrounded by other people who are in recovery is just sort of what I do now, but that's what I need to do to continue on with the good life that I live today," said Ryan Lease.

The grant will help provide weekly events throughout the entire year. The group is planning snowshoeing and cross-country skiing events for this winter.

For more information on the group and help for recovering addicts head to the Coulee Council on Addiction website and the Outdoor Recovery Project website and Facebook page.

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