Running in recovery from alcoholism and addiction
Running and keeping fit in recovery from alcoholism, has helped me more that AA!
Running has been a great help to me in the years I have been in recovery. I can see the changes in my body, feel much stronger and can breathe easier. I am much happier, can sleep better and am much more motivated throughout the day. I was encouraged to run, years ago when I was depressed but did not want to, as I felt so tired. I think if I had started exercising more back then I would have avoided many problems later on. It has probably helped me more than joining a recovery group like AA!
Running releases a lot of endorphins in the brain which are natural opiates. If you are a regular runner you will find the effect more powerful and this is sometimes refered to, as the runners high. It can help motivate you to keep exercising. Endorphins are often produced by drug use which make you feel good for a while and so running is much more useful way of making yourself feel happy and it also obviously helps your cardiovascular system. When you are reasonably fit the chemicals will leave you feeling energised after a run and will help you throughout the day.
I follow a lot of blogs that are talking about the positive sides of recovery and the methods that work for different people. I think that those who, are living a healthy lifestyle are doing best at recovery. Many talk about the benefits of exercise, meditation and a healthy diet. I think you have really turned the corner in the battle against addiction, when these things become a priority in life. Addiction and alcohol are not so much an issue, if you have made looking after your body and your mind a priority and are doing something about changing the way you are. Alcohol becomes a poison that you are not interested in. Cooking good, fresh foods is another thing that many are doing and this gives you another positive,healthy thing to enjoy and look forward to as part of your day. Several people are writing, and doing something about their sugar intake, which has become a priority for them, since they have put down the drink. That is real progress for people who were drinking to blot out part of their life a year before. I think they stand a good chance of have many great alcohol free years in the future.
I sometimes run past an AA meeting on a Sunday where I used to go and I always see the same old crowd outside, smoking away. It is such a shame, that these people do not spend more time on getting fit and living a healthy lifestyle as I am sure it would have a good effect on them in all areas of their life. In a way, I think my drinking was simply a part of a dysfunctional lifestyle and once I have changed other things in my life it no longer seems like something I wish to do. The same goes for smoking and drugs. The hard part was stopping the drinking so I could see what was going on, so that I could adjust my lifestyle. I think you will really be helped by exercise if you wish to stay alcohol free longterm. It has become central to way of living life and I no longer have to motivate myself to do it, which was they case at first.
Another benefit of healthy activity is that you will meet other really positive, healthy people who probably won’t be heavy drinkers to socialise with. I have found this to be the case with Yoga and Pilates groups and often see people out in the park where I run who I recognise and that makes me feel good. I am very lucky in that I am often able to go to the swimming pool and gym, in a Premier League football club and am surrounded by friendly, juice drinking health fans.
I identify myself with these people, rather than alcoholics these days. I have a pretty good self-image, for somebody with my past. The important thing is to keep the bad stuff in the past and move on, and I think leaving recovery based groups such as AA which kept me anchored to the past was the best thing for me to do. I do not think that identifying myself as an alcoholic these days, would be a very accurate description any more and I am very pleased about that!