I have been sober for nearly 4 years. It was a journey that took me about a decade to finally achieve.. I got sober at 26 but started trying at the age of 21. There were a few reasons why this last time worked over all of the other attempts. At the forefront, I would say that committing to the gym and eating better was a huge reason I was able to survive early recovery which is a tough time for anyone. I grew up with a mom who to this day eats very healthily and goes to the gym every morning at 7 am. I have always envied her commitment because I knew how much it helped her mood and energy throughout the day.
When I was in detox this time, someone mentioned that there was gym time that week that we could attend. Many treatments offer exercise as part of their program because logically it makes sense. If I treat my body better and perform activities that will naturally flood the brain with good chemicals, I will be less prone to want to use drugs again. A study done in 2014 chose 35 patients in a treatment setting, 24 of them were put in an exercise program while 11 were not, the statistics between the two groups as far as improved mental/physical health were quite different, favoring those that exercised. I looked back to all the times my mother told me that the gym balances her out and is the only thing that helped with her depression and anxiety when she hated how the medication made her feel, she swears by it. The first day I got in the gym there was an incredible trainer there to help with any questions and I inquired with her right away. She would write out exercise plans for me every day, starting with easy ones of course, and it became a great way for me to gain self-esteem and just feel good about myself.
Once I left treatment I made it a top priority, along with other things, to focus on my health and it proved to be a game changer. As someone who had relapsed countless times, I was now feeling better about myself and overall happier as every day passed by. There are a few things I attribute this to but more than anything I attribute it to my dedication to the gym and healthy eating. Please, if you are struggling with any form of substance abuse, I first advise you to find a strong support network, but after that, and nearly as important, take care of yourself. It can save your life. It saved mine.
Daniel Wittler is a writer in recovery from South Florida. He advocates for ways to recover from drug/alcohol addiction and likes to share his story to show that absolutely anyone can get sober.
When it comes to addressing the effects of substance use, the best therapies are those that target the body as a whole. Physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Research shows that some forms of physical activity can improve physical, cognitive, and emotional measures. For that reason, we created a guide that explains:
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- Can Exercise Be A Standalone Treatment?
- When Is Exercise Encouraged for Recovery?
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