Recovering from addiction or alcoholism is a lifelong process because both are lifelong diseases. But while breaking the cycle of addiction can often involve a drug intervention, medical detox and a professional drug rehab program, most of the recovery process is worked on a daily, individual basis. To be more to the point, an addict can’t just attend a drug or alcohol addiction treatment center and expect that afterwards they’ll be clean and sober for life. Instead, people in recovery must take action on a daily basis in order to maintain and improve the most critical components of their recovery plan as detailed below.
1.) The physical components of substance abuse recovery
Regular exercise is critical for the health of any person, but especially of addicts who are compromised in a number of ways by their addiction. Exercise helps to alleviate stress – a chronic cause of relapse – and also builds valuable white blood cells that are essential for fighting infections, viruses and supporting a strong immune system. As part of a daily recovery program a person generally only needs 20 to 30 minutes per day of exercise deemed acceptable for them by a health care professional. For a very low impact type of exercise that provides measureable results for people in recovery, Yoga is often recommended:
“Research has shown that the combination of yoga and mindfulness can provide energy, satisfaction, and stability on an addict’s road to recovery.” (1)
However, not every exercise is right for every person and recovering addicts and alcoholics are encouraged to check with their doctor before beginning any exercise program.
Proper nutrition doesn’t just mean eating a healthy portion of vegetables each day. A good nutrition program helps a person by reducing salt intake that compounds stress issues and can lead to severe cardiovascular problems. It should also regulate sugar consumption in order to prevent adult-onset diabetes and sugar rushes and subsequent crashes that can mimic and stimulate the addictive process.
Even more important than maintaining a healthy diet is to drink plenty of water. Water is what allows our bodies to process the nutrients we consume, so if you’re not getting enough then a significant amount of the food you eat might be underutilized and therefore “wasted” from an absorption of vitamins and minerals standpoint.
Water also provides internal lubrication of organs and tissues, allows for rapid communication between synapses and nerves, and provides critical medium for new cell growth.
Poor eating habits can lead to illness, stress, depression, exhaustion and other complications, all of which can eventually result in a relapse event. Add to this a sedentary lifestyle and relapse becomes much more likely as a consequence of the stress – both physical and mental – that poor diet and lack of exercise brings.
To learn more about what it takes to work on a daily recovery plan, please see part 2 of this article series. In it we’ll discuss the social, clinical and spiritual aspects of a recovery from addiction or alcoholism program.
If you or someone you love has recently relapsed or you need help for a drug problem, please call the number at the top of your screen for a free, confidential consultation right now. We are a group of addiction experts whose primary mission is to help you put your Recovery First.
(1) Jaffe, Adi Ph.D. Addiction, exercise, recovery: Yoga Practice and Mindfulness in Addiction Recovery 02/01/2010 Psychology Today