Healthy Habits and Recovery

Healthy friends

It’s pretty safe to say that people want to live the healthiest lives that they can. That applies to just about anyone, not just those who are in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. By and large, people want to safeguard their physical and mental health.

For those of us who are in recovery, we take healthy life choices very seriously. We really want to be healthy. We know from first-hand experience what it’s like to be very unhealthy. We never want to go down that path again. We know what lies at the end of it.

So what are some healthy habits that anyone can benefit from?

Follow a Healthy Diet Daily

Everyone should follow a healthy diet. Eating well and eating healthy with consistency helps maintain good physical health. There’s also data which suggests that eating well has positive effects on one’s mental health. That means people who are in recovery should pay particular attention to what they eat. Foods that are high in sugars and artificial additives not only lack in the sustenance that one needs, but such foods are themselves potentially addictive. Recovering addicts should seek out and maintain a healthy diet that works for them.

Be Around Sober, Likeminded People

two runners are getting ready

Human beings are social creatures. We are at our strongest when we are involved in communities and groups. That is true for anyone, especially for recovering addicts. Those of us who are striving daily to follow a path of sobriety and abstinence benefit from the support of those who share similar goals.

And this is not just common sense either. There is also a great deal of research that discusses the immense value in peer support for those in recovery. Though she might be strong-willed and brave, a recovering addict (by herself) has only her own will to stay sober to rely on. But if she surrounds herself with family members, friends, and support groups who also want the same things for her (sobriety and a healthy life), now we have a woman who has additional assistance and support in staying clean and living a healthy, enjoyable life.

Make a Point to Exercise Frequently

Daily exercise offers a world of benefit to anyone who commits to it. The body functions best when it’s active. And like the research behind the benefits in community and family support, a fair amount of research which indicates exercise is also beneficial for recovering addicts.

“Exercise lowers levels of a protein in the brain associated with drug cravings. Exercise also improves mood, which is welcome news for anyone struggling with clinical depression or a case of ‘the blues’…”

Quoting an article published in U.S. News, “Exercise lowers levels of a protein in the brain associated with drug cravings. Exercise also improves mood, which is welcome news for anyone struggling with clinical depression or a case of ‘the blues’ – a very common experience in early recovery that is also a known relapse trigger.”

Expand Your Mind Through Continuing Education

People who continue to learn new things even after they complete school or college are individuals who continuously stimulate their minds. Doing so has a massive benefit to those in recovery. A mind that is seeking drugs is a mind that is seeking stimulation. But stimulation can be found under much healthier circumstances. Seek a bright and alert mind through new knowledge, not drug use.

Help Others

Community together

People who have spent some time as addicts know what it is like to be a burden to others. Back when we were abusing drugs and alcohol, we spent a lot of time prioritizing our addiction over anything else, over anyone else. We might have even harmed others in our never-ending mission to get high. That’s why there is so much value for recovering addicts in helping others.

Anyone can benefit from taking time out of their day to help others. But this is especially beneficial for recovering addicts. We spent so much time taking from others that giving back to the community, to the family, and to our loved ones is not only good for them, it’s also great for us.

Recovering addicts are particularly suited to help others. We have immense experience and knowledge of hardship. We are often the best therapists, even if we don’t have a prestigious degree that says so. Whether it’s being a shoulder to cry on, volunteering in community centers, or helping a family member or friend who has fallen on hard times, the simple act of helping others is a healthy habit for those who are in recovery.

The Value of Residential Addiction Treatment

While engaging in healthy habits have their benefits, no such habit is a replacement for addiction treatment if one is still actively struggling with drug use or heavy drinking. And we know this to be true, deep down inside. There is no such thing as a “functioning addict.” If we are still using drugs and alcohol, we need to get help at a residential treatment center. If we have already kicked a drug habit or a drinking problem, that’s when we can create healthy habits that are conducive to ongoing sobriety.

But for those of us who are still struggling with addiction, we must seek help from residential drug rehab. It’s not enough to try and filter healthy habits into what has already become a very unhealthy life. We cannot “function” and use drugs and alcohol at the same time.

The keynote of an addiction is that it is a dwindling spiral. It will get worse if we do not get help. There is no degree of exercise, proper diet, support, ongoing education, or volunteer work that we can engage in which will make a current addiction “safe” or “okay.” When someone struggles with an addiction, they need to seek help through residential treatment. It really is as simple as that.

Remember, addiction is a life or death matter. If you or someone you care about is struggling with addiction, make sure help via residential treatment is available and that such help is achieved. Doing so is the only way out of the morass.


Reviewed by Claire Pinelli ICAADC, CCS, LADC, RAS, MCAP



After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.