Monday, June 8, 2009

Addiction Recovery and Physical Activity

The longer I've been in recovery, the more important I've been finding physical activity. When I was in treatment, we went to the gym a couple of days a week, but there was no real stress on it, plus we weren't exactly in the best shape when in treatment. I also find myself eating lots of sweets and just in general, eating more than when I was actively using. And of course when I left, I continued to eat the way I had in treatment and quickly started to gain weight. After experiencing some sobriety and a lack of physical activity, I joined a gym and rediscovered the joys of physical activity. Playing in a basketball league and working out provided a new foundation for feeling good about myself.

These days, I've become even more passionate, enrolling in the Team In Training program to raise money for leukemia and lymphoma research (you can donate to my cause here) and riding 100 miles in one day in August. I'm also contemplating another century (100 mile ride) in Austin in October to raise money for cancer research via the Livestrong Foundation. We'll see how it goes. Either way, I know by training for these events I've created an avenue for success and a challenge, both of which keep me engaged and healthy- both key elements of my recovery.

Other groups have popped up around the country to encourage physical activity in recovery. Treatment centers like Sober Living By The Sea in Newport Beach, CA (where I work), Jaywalker Lodge in Carbondale, CO, and Gray Wolf Ranch in Port Townsend, WA all include various treks, physical activities and sports in their treatment plans. Phoenix Multisport, a group based in Boulder, CO specializes in groups of recovering individuals engaging in tough physical activities like climbing and biking. And make sure to check out Racing For Recovery, featuring Todd Crandell, a recovering addict who now raises money for addiction treatment by doing triathlons. CNN posted an article on recovery addicts participating in triathlons.

Another good resource if you're interested in recovery and sports is the book by Andrew Dieden, "The Sports Lover's Guide To Recovery." The book is filled with great quotes, stories and experiences. You can get the book here.

For a great story, check out the redemption of Josh Hamilton, a highly regarding baseball prospect who got derailed from drug addiction. He then climbed his way back. Check out the article on ESPN.

So basically, if you're in recovery, make sure to get involved with som sort of physical activity- it will help your healing process! I'm sure we'll see more treatment centers employing the physical aspect of treatment in the years ahead.

I've posted this before, but a great video from Doug MacBain who rode across Canada to raise money for an addiction recovery home:

For "Addict" socks, click here.

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  1. I just fowarded this post to a friend who is an avid runner and recently had a relapse. Physical activity is so important in my recovery. Loads of literature support the positive effects (for addicts in particular) of keeping the body moving.

    Yesterday I ran 6.2 miles but at halfway mark I 'ran' into a Greek food festival and I could not pass up the awesome gyro! Needless to say, my return trip was a little, um, let's just say, slower. :)

  2. great post, Mike! Way to bring to light some of the great programs out there that strongly support the integration of physical activity into a holistic treatment model. Would love to have you check us out at and provide some feedback. Our Mission (very much in line with the organizations you mentioned): "to educate, motivate, and build a platform for individuals in recovery from addictions to pusue optimal health in mind, body, and spirit." Look forward to connecting!

    Alison Hadden, Founder
    Active Recovery

  3. MIKE,
    You know that one of the reasons that Sober Living by the Sea is so effective is because of our activities which get people outdoors and give them self esteem.