exercise in recovery

Exercise in Addiction Recovery

Exercise in Addiction Recovery

Exercise in addiction recovery is a key component for many reasons, not the least of which is to take a holistic approach to recovery.

During the addiction recovery treatment proccess, successful patients will find themselves moving on from Rehadb, IOP and PHP likely into a sober living program. It is during this period that there’s more idle time, making it an ideal time to distract the mind with other activities.

It’s part of the reason we offer adventure therapy as part of our sober living programs, but we also sprinkle in other activities such as charity work, team-building activities and other physical activities.

Dr. Claire Twark wrote, “Combined with what we know about other treatments, exercise shows promise. Animal studies have shown that regular swimming reduces voluntary morphine consumption in opioid-dependent rats, and access to an exercise wheel reduces self-administration of cocaine in rats dependent on the drug. A small study in humans investigated an exercise program offered to 38 men and women who misused a variety of substances, including opioids, cannabis, amphetamines, and cocaine. Participants agreed to take part in group exercise three times a week for two to six months. Twenty people completed the intervention. When reassessed a year later, five reported abstinence and 10 reported that they had decreased their substance use.”

We’re not suggesting that one can exercise themselves out of addiction, but studies sho that occupying the mind with other things is something that is especially useful for patients in recovery.

‘But I never exercised before’

Everyone has exercised at some point in their life. When we were children, we all went outside and played at some point in our lives, so the precedent has been set.

The idea is to find an activity that you like and do it often enough and long enough to keep your mind off cravings. At the very least, your mind will be occupied with achieving some sort of goal related to the activity – whether it’s making the next shot in basketball or getting up a trail on a mountain bike.

The time you spend in recovery is the perfect time to try new things including new activities. Some possible new activities include:


  • Baseball/batting cages
  • Bowling
  • Skating
  • Surfing
  • Skiing
  • Mountain or road bike riding
  • Hockey
  • Tennis
  • Rock climbing

No matter the activity, as long as it’s taking up timingand requires at least some physical effort, it’s worth pursuing. Addiction treatment in California becomes even more attractive when you factor in our weather and the abundance of activities locally.

Another thing unique to a sober living facility like ours is the close bond that is formed among residents. Our adventure therapy events are always full and there’s a high probability that no matter what activity you’re into, there are probably other residents who share that passion.

We also encourage other activities such as meditation and Yoga. In fact, we have a close relationship with local Yoga professionals who conduct special programs just for TDRC residents.

Together, there’s every indication and sufficient evidence that exercise in recovery can be of great benefit. With proper nutrition and commitment to therapy, TDRC provides you all of the tools necessary for a successful recovery.

Dr. Twark adds, “In summary, I vote that yes, there is some evidence that exercise can help to conquer addiction. No treatment is infallible. Frequently, people with substance abuse disorders find that a variety of strategies is best, including MAT, psychotherapy, and mutual-help groups. More research is needed to clarify which types and amounts of exercise are potentially helpful in treating addiction.”


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Having a structure in place to focus on sobriety is one thing, but rebuilding your life with a band of brothers at your back is what sets our community apart from others. We’ve proven it repeatedly; leaning on people like yourself in a structured sober living program leads to a more exciting and fulfilling life.

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