Guest Post – 5 Reasons to Jog Along That The road to Addiction Recovery
“Jogging is very beneficial. It’s good for your legs and your feet.
It’s also very good for the ground. It makes it feel needed.”
– Charles M. Schulz, creator of Charlie Brown and Snoopy
I never jogged when I was younger – I used to run. You name it, I ran from it. Responsibility, hard work, failed relationships, pressures I couldn’t deal with, but especially feelings of guilt over my dangerous and uncontrollable substance abuse. That was my alcohol and drug-infested adolescence for you in a nutshell. Running.
I ran as fast as my legs would carry me. I didn’t need a starting gun to set off at break-neck speed, just an accusatory tone of voice, a pointed finger, an initially polite request for money to be paid back, or a dangerous situation of my own making (of which there were plenty – believe me). So where would I run?
Easy – the next hit, the next bottle, or the next joint (if I could find nothing stronger).
My name is Andy, I’m now a thirty-something, reasonably successful digital marketing entrepreneur, and I’m happy to say the only thing I’m rapidly approaching right now is a whole decade of being clean and sober.
The end product of my “formative years” was an alcoholic and drug addict. As the late, great U.S. comedian Bill Hicks once said, “Man, I was an embarrassing drunk. I’d get pulled over by the cops, I’d be so drunk I’d be out dancing in their lights thinking I’d made it to the next club.” Throw meth – my drug of choice – into the mix? Well, it was no wonder that one day I got pulled over by the cops and spent the next couple of years in prison.
My mother and father saved me. After I relapsed a month or so after my release from the state pen, they drove me straight to a drug and alcohol addiction treatment center. I stayed there for just short of 6 months. I finally stopped running. I figured I had nowhere to run to anymore.
Rehab taught me about the real need for exercise to help deal with addiction recovery. Yes, it’s a long road. Run it and you won’t get far. Jog it on the other hand… This article is about the 5 reasons that keep me jogging along that road. All I can say is I’m getting to where I want to be. And it’s no sprint.
#1. Controlling Anger
Now, I have no idea what has to lead you to read this. However, I can tell you the primary reason why I’m in a position to be writing it – anger. And my complete inability to deal with it, in whatever form it showed up. That red mist would just settle across me, and then… Well, sometimes I couldn’t even remember what happened next. The alcohol and drugs? They were my self-administered medication. With no limit on recommended dosage.
Once this had been identified by my medical and psychological rehab team – as a co-occurring disorder along with my addiction, they gave me the necessary outlets and self-help tools I would need when I left. One of these was jogging. Gotten angry? Lace up your running shoes and go and hit the road, hit it hard and hit nothing else.
Jogging became an important outlet for the emotional turmoil (including anger and frustration) that recovery initially brings. That word serenity – jogging gave me that when it seemed even impossible.
#2. Stronger Mentally, Stronger Physically
Any form of regular physical activity is going to do 2 important things – it’s going to make you stronger mentally, and it’s going to make you stronger physically. Believe me, addiction recovery is a hard process, and you need to endure it. Addiction has taken its toll, and it’s time you make yourself well.
Apart from releasing the happy chemicals, our brains love, such as endorphins, regular exercise like jogging repairs the brain’s nerve connections and even increase their number. No surprise your thinking gets clearer.
Physically, jogging will make you fitter and stronger. Rehab, particularly the detox, takes all your energy and any vitality you had left. Jogging gives you back that energy and vitality of old, and some. It will even improve your body’s immune system, making the revised version of you more resilient when it comes to diseases and health conditions, such as heart disease and type-2 diabetes.
I now do my best thinking when I’m out jogging. If I have a problem, an issue that, in the past, would have led me to alcohol or drugs, I hit the road, and, even if I can’t solve it, I can make peace with it. Jogging gives me the perspective I need to do the right thing.
#4. Better Sleep
Addicts live with many problems – somewhat of an understatement, I know, but the addiction aside, one of the worst of these is sleep. Drug addicts don’t sleep well. Fact. There were days during my active addiction when I’d go without sleep for up to 100 hours. It sounds crazy, but that was its power over me.
Regular exercise and jogging are such as a good example of this, will tire you naturally and healthily, helping to put your life in the balance it needs.
#5. Greater Self-Confidence
I did some crazy stuff in those days – dangerous, even life-threatening things. Addiction, among other things, is a roller coaster you don’t want to ride. One moment, you want the world to end, the next – you’re some kind of Superman, invincible, with Herculean strength and an attitude to match. What it does is shine a light on your complete lack of self-confidence, and the substances have the final say.
Jogging, among other healthy routines like the practice of yoga and mindfulness, has built up my self-confidence (and my sense of self-worth) enormously, in a positive way. It sets goals that even if I can’t meet straight off, I know I’ll get there. Like addiction recovery, it’s just one foot in front of the other.
Today, I’ll Go Jogging
Today, I am happy and I am healthy, like yesterday, and the day before.
Today, I will not use and I will not drink, like yesterday, and the day before.
And today, I’ll go jogging, like yesterday, and the day before.
My journey, this road, has been difficult for me – I’m not ashamed to admit I have come close to failing several times. But only close. It’s long this road, and tough to follow. And I know I can’t run it. So I’ll jog it – it’s the best way for me to get where I need to be.
If you are traveling a similar road, what advice can you give to those who are just starting out? Please leave your ideas and suggestions as comments below.
Remember, one foot in front of the other.