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Striving to Change Addiction Recovery

Surfside is continually expanding the services we offer our residents in an effort to provide the most comprehensive extended care sober living, focusing on options that will allow men to experience life at its fullest. Over the last few months, we began taking the guys to Crossfit on a weekly basis. We are finding that Crossfit is fantastic for addiction recovery.

Why Crossfit? Great question! Over the past few years, I scoffed at CrossFit – as someone who walked away from the gym years ago to pursue sports like surfing and kiteboarding, I found little appeal in a gym-based activity.  The only information I had was that it was some sort of high intensity cult-like practice.  I also knew that CrossFitters seemed to neurotically post about their workouts for everyone to see.  However, like most, I simply didn’t know what it offered and the hype/excitement was something that I could not understand or relate to from my past days of working out at a gym.

I set my preconceived notions aside and tried it with an open mind. I instantly discovered that people in addiction recovery had a lot to gain from Crossfit and what it had to offer. Below you will find some of the benefits that Crossfit has to offer and an explanation how it can help someone in addiction recovery.

Fellowship & Connection

At most of the gyms around town you will find a bunch of random people doing their own thing. At times you will see a few guys sitting around a bench press talking and lifting occasionally. Crossfit offers something different for men and women in addiction recovery. People are typically welcomed immediately when walking into a Crossfit gym, which removes the fear of not knowing anybody and creates a sense of comfort (despite the grueling workouts to come). It is not uncommon to see folks chatting while stretching and asking each other about their day. People do the programed class together so everyone pushes each other and encourages each other to work hard and push their limits. The Crossfit class usually runs an hour and the group works though everything together; the stretching, warm up and then the actual work out.

This is just as if someone was in a 12-step meeting. Finding encouragement from potential strangers gives people a sense of security and warmth, regardless of what the encouragement is about. In recovery everyone has the same goal: to stay sober. In Crossfit everyone has a similar goal: to work hard, push their limits and stay/get in shape. Basically, everyone is in it together. The fellowship and connection are what makes Crossfit special just as the fellowship in 12-step recovery.

Extreme and Intense

Addicts and alcoholics typically like intensity. 18-34 year old folks in addiction recovery particularly like extreme and intense activities. The more intense the more serotonin is released. It is similar to a “runners high” or the feeling a surfer or climber gets from being in that “moment”. When the chemicals are released it helps with mood regulation, coping skills, depression and anxiety.

We have found that intense and extreme activities that are enjoyable, coupled with the work of the 12-steps and appropriate accountability remove the obsession to use. Not only is the obsession removed but it enables the sufferer to feel happy and useful. People in addiction recovery need to be pushed and feel the adrenalin rush of accomplishment.

Perseverance and Adversity

Addiction recovery is about perseverance and adversity. It is about triumph over your struggles, learning to live life on life terms and facing everything as it comes, with dignity and respect. That’s exactly how Crossfit workouts are. Sometimes workouts (called “WODs” for “Workout of the Day”) look easy but become incredibly difficult as the clock ticks on. One may want to give up or cheat on the repetitions, but if one perseveres, they will feel a real sense of accomplishment. As the days go on and the workouts change, it becomes more and more rewarding to push through the struggle of each. Eventually the struggle just becomes part of the daily journey, and it becomes welcomed. In Crossfit and recovery things do not get easier…you become stronger.

Lifestyle Development

Lastly, Crossfit provides people in addiction recovery a path for overall lifestyle development and enhancement. Being surrounded by people trying to be healthy, active, and in peak physical condition is positive. Overall, the peers at a CrossFit gym are a motivated group, and we know water seeks its own level.  Therefore, being around people trying to succeed will ultimately push one to want to succeed as well.

If you are local to Surfside and in recovery and have a desire to check out CrossFit please contact us and to try it for free.

Written by: Ian Koch, MS, LCADC, CAS | Executive Director