I have always had an addictive personality. When I was 16, it led to a problem with alcohol. As I aged, this morphed into problems with meth and other drugs. At 25, I should have been at my peak, but I felt like I was on my last legs. I wasn’t healthy, I wasn’t strong. I was a dead man walking.

So, I decided to do something about it. I stopped the drugs and I developed another hobby: running. I took to this like I had previously taken to drugs. I went all-in and I became obsessed. But unlike my previous addictions, this one vastly improved my health and my life.

These are the 4 ways that jogging has helped me through my addiction.

Physical Health

Methamphetamine puts a lot of strain on the body, as do all drugs. My heart was being put under immense stress everyday, even though the most exercise I got was when I cleaned the house in a frenzy or walked to my dealer’s place.

I was unfit, I was unhealthy. As a result, my initial jogging sessions mainly consisted of a few short spurts and then several days in recovery. Still, the more I jogged, the more my body adapted to the changes. The soreness and fatigue caused by recovery began to ebb away. My strength increased. I became fitter. Healthier.

It’s hard to describe how good it feels to be healthy, especially if you’re used to relying on a chemical to make you feel good. But at my healthiest and my fittest, I felt considerably better, happier and even more euphoric than I did at my highest.

Mental Health

Lack of exercise does something to your mind as well as your body. The less you do, the less you want to do and the less you’re capable of doing. In the early days of recovery I struggled to take satisfaction in anything that I was doing. I was incapable of joy. I was constantly bored. Basically, I was on a fast-track to relapse.

When I started jogging, I felt a fog being lifted. I was able to think clearly. I was able to take satisfaction in small things. The more I jogged, the fitter I became both mentally and physically and the more I knew I would never use drugs again.

The Buzz

I had tried to stop using many times in the past, but never successfully. On most occasions I tried to substitute another drug for my drug of choice. Whether it was alcohol, painkillers, sedatives or even copious amounts of caffeine, I always wanted to have something to provide me with a buzz. But it always ended up giving me another issue to deal with, before eventually sending me back to my drug of choice.

With jogging, however, I found an activity that I could get as passionate about, and something that was able to provide me with a buzz. Exercise triggers a rush of endorphins, a natural high that is cleaner than the high provided by drugs and also has no side effects.

In the early days the only thing you look forward to is the moment you’re chilling on the sofa after a run, with your muscles completely relaxed and your brain de-stressed. But in time you begin to appreciate the act of running just as much.

The Community

Like many long-term addicts, all of my friends used drugs. It was the only thing I did with my time, so it made sense. But when it came time to kick the habit, I couldn’t confide in any of those friends and I knew that if I kept them in my life then I would start using again.

Not long after I started jogging I began to make new friends. I would meet them on my route, I would meet them online in the communities I joined. When you’re so passionate about a hobby like this, you begin to absorb yourself in it, and when that happens it’s just a matter of time before you meet likeminded people.

These days I have close friends who support me in my new life. I also met my new partner jogging. Not only is she the first girlfriend I’ve had as a sober adult, but she’s also the first sober woman I’ve been with.

Get Started

Martin Luther King once said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase”. This is what recovery has always felt like for me. You can see what needs to be done right now, but you’re blinded to the good that it will do you. This applies to recovery on the whole, as well as to the things that you use to help you recover, such as jogging.

It’s going to be very difficult to go for that first jog. It’s going to feel near impossible to get up early, to sweat and struggle through a run, and then to keep doing it day after day. I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a pain. But there are small moments of joy that make those first few days worthwhile, and these are followed by huge life-changing moments.

So, take that first step, because while it may seem like a difficult decision to make right now, it’s one that could lead to a healthier, happier life.

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Jan 14 2017
4 Reasons To Consider Surf Therapy While in Recovery

They say you need to hit rock bottom before you can clamber toward sobriety. To an extent, that was true for me as well. The difference is that I remained at rock bottom for many years before I even contemplated sobriety.

At 23 I was already a heavy user and my rock bottom came in the form of a sentence for drug charges. Despite that, it wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that I finally got a hold of my life and finally sobered up. It was a long road, one with many struggles, many relapses. But in the end one of the things that helped me the most was something you just won’t find in your typical recovery story, and something that definitely isn’t in any 12 step program.

That something was surfing. Sounds crazy, right? Bear with me and it’ll start to make a lot of sense as I describe my 4 reasons to consider surf therapy while in recovery.

The Thrill

One of the reasons I suffered so many relapses in my early years was because I missed the thrill that meth, my drug of choice, provided me with. Or at least, that’s what I thought when I was struggling with sobriety, because the reality was never that simple. When I was sober I would remember meth as this wonderful, life-changing, life-affirming drug, and that kick-started the cravings. When I relapsed and took my first dose, I experienced mere minutes of pleasure, followed by weeks of regret and disgust.

You experience pleasure differently once you’ve been addicted to meth and I didn’t think I would derive pleasure from anything again. But then I discovered surfing.

It was pure coincidence really. It was summer and it was so hot I was uncomfortable in my own skin. I was also bored out of my mind and looking for a distraction. I asked my neighbor if he wanted to go out, he told me that he was going surfing and said I could go along. The rest was history.

At first, there wasn’t a lot to enjoy. I was rarely on the board and spent more time swimming than anything else. But in time, I began to love every minute I spent on/in the water, and even during those early days it was still something that took my mind off my recovery.

These days nothing excites me quite like surfing does. That’s not to say that I still have issues experiencing pleasure, far from it, it’s just that I get so much pleasure from surfing. Once you’re on the water, with the cool waves beneath your feet, the power of Mother Nature behind you and the sun beating down, you don’t think about the drugs you used to take or the recovery you’re going through. In fact, you don’t really think about anything, and that’s a rare treat for a recovering addict.

The Community

There is a certain stereotype regarding the surfing community. They are labelled as air heads. Idiots. And, for the most part, drug users. That’s not true. Surfing is as diverse as any hobby and while those people do exist, they are the exception as opposed to the rule.

For the most part, the people I have met surfing are energetic, care-free, intelligent, funny people. They are great to be around. They are supportive. If not for the help I received from these people I don’t think I would be where I am today.

For me, and for many others in recovery, one of the hardest things to deal with was the fact that most of my friends were drug users. They lived to get high and it seemed like I had two options: I could either get high with them and remain friends. Or I could walk out on them, at which point I would be sober but alone.

Even though it doesn’t feel like it, the latter option is always the better option, because there is always a different group of friends waiting for you. There are always friends out there who won’t use you for drugs, won’t expect you to get high every day and won’t treat you like a freak if you tell them you’re in recovery.

The Health Benefits

Addicts aren’t very health conscious. Drugs like meth destroy your health, and this is exaggerated by the fact that you don’t pay attention to what you eat when you’re using. When you’re high, you don’t really feel the ill effects of a bad diet. In recovery, however, it eats away at you and drags you down.

It’s hard to stay fit and healthy because it’s hard to find the motivation to do so, but this is where surfing helped me. I was getting plenty of exercise out in the open. I was getting plenty of sunshine. And because I was more active and surrounded by people who were equally active and people who looked after themselves, I began to eat better.

I know from experience that’s it’s very difficult to make it through recovery when you’re not in the best of health. I’ve had problems with my teeth, gums, skim, hair and bowels—all relating to vitamin deficiencies and bad diet—and this was when I wasn’t using. When you feel like hell every day and you just can’t find the motivation to do something about it, it’s easy to turn to the drug that you know will make it all go away. But if you watch what you eat, if you exercise and get some fresh air and sunshine, you’ll help to keep those cravings at bay.

The Purpose

I hated myself every time I relapsed, and the more I hated myself, the more I used and the longer those relapses lasted.

In my mid-twenties I sobered up for a few weeks and then applied for a job that required a drug test. I knew that meth doesn’t remain in your urine or saliva for very long, so I thought I would be safe. As it turns out, they took a hair sample, which can detect the drug for up to 3 months.

The irony is that if I had only been clean for a few days, as opposed to a few weeks, it wouldn’t have shown. Nor would it have shown it they used a different test. But it did show, and the resulting failure, followed by the loss of an opportunity I had pinned a lot of hope on, sent me into another two years of addiction.

I had hoped that job would give me a reason to wake up in the morning, and I was distraught when it was taken away from me. I have known many friends who have slipped into relapse because of similar heartbreak, whether through the death or a parent or a child, the loss of a job or a house, or even a partner walking out on them.

With surfing, not only did I find a reason to wake up in the morning, but no one could take it away from me. I knew that if I lived by the beach and had my board, I would always be able to surf. Even if I lost my apartment, even if I had no money and no friends, I would still find a way to surf, and that gave me a sense of purpose that I had never experienced before.

One Wave at a Time

Recovery is about living one day at a time. You’ll have bad days. You’ll have good days. You’ll have days when you feel on top of the world and like you’ll never use again. You’ll have days when you just can’t imagine ever being completely sober.

I have been sober for 8 years, but I still have the occasional bad day. Just know that the more time you spend in your own head, the worse those bad days will be and the further away from sobriety you’ll become. And if you can clear your head and fill it with the joys of sun, sea and surf, then it’ll all be plain surfing from that moment onwards.

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Mar 15 2017
5 Tips For Setting Goals In Recovery

Drug addiction is increasingly being seen as an illness, and one that needs to be treated as such. It has been estimated that 1 in 10 Americans have used or will use drugs, while more than 200,000 people die every year from drug abuse.

Like many illnesses, addiction can be cured. But there is also a high risk of relapse—as much as 60%—which is why it’s important to prepare, inform and support each and every addict.

One of the ways addicts can help themselves is to set goals. This is something that forms a significant part of many 12-step programs, and something that can really help. Setting goals can help to inspire. It can give hope where hope seems lost, and it gives the addict a realistic objective.

Of course, like all things in recovery, this is easier said than done. But with these 5 tips for setting goals in recovery we hope you will have the knowledge you need to progress.

Be Clear and Realistic

For decades self-help experts have been telling us that a goal is worthless unless it is written down and clearly defined. Your goal of, “I want to be a millionaire” is useless when it’s confined to your mind, but becomes a little more realistic when you write a plan of how you’re going to make your money. And the same applies to your recovery goals.

Don’t just tell yourself that you want to be sober and you want to mend the wrongs you have caused. Instead, grab a notebook and create a list. Be realistic. It’s all about setting small goals that you can accomplish and feel proud about, as opposed to huge, unrealistic goals that will always be out of reach.

Be Detailed

The more details you include, the easier those goals will be. For instance, instead of, “I will be healthy, meth free, completely sober, and I will prove this to my loved ones,” you should start with the following:

  • I will reach a point where I have no drugs in my system
  • I will take a test to prove this to my loved ones
  • I will eat healthily and follow a detailed diet plan
  • I will exercise every day
  • I will meditate everyday

And then break them into smaller goals.

For instance, if we start with the first one and assume that the drug of choice is meth, we can assume it will take up to 3 months to pass a test based on how long meth remains in your system.

We know that the organs need to be in working order to help clear the body of the drug, so we’ll eat more fresh fruit and vegetables. We’ll take herbal supplements. We’ll drink more water. We also need to think about how we can get through every week or even every day. What happens on Friday/Saturday night, a day when you used to get high? What happens on those days you’re bored and without support?

Plan. Be specific and don’t be afraid of the details.

Be Flexible

It’s good to have fixed goals and it’s good to stick to them when you can. But that’s not always possible. One of the issues with setting these goals is that if you fail, then the resulting disappointment may trigger a relapse.

It’s an “all-or-nothing” attitude that can lead to thoughts of, “Well, I’ve failed this, I might as well scrap the whole list”. That’s a slippery slope. So, to avoid it, you need to adapt your goals as you go on.

If you relapse, don’t write everything off. Just adjust your timeframe, tell yourself that it will never happen again and continue. If you discover that it will take longer to hit those goals, then give yourself more time. We can’t predict what will happen one day to the next, so flexibility is important.

Share with Others

If you tell others about your list then they can help you with it and support you along the way. The least they can do is make sure they don’t hinder you in anyway, the most they can do is actually help you accomplish them.

A proper support system is essential in helping you through recovery, and if you have it on hand then you should be prepared to use it.


The feeling you get from hitting goals is great, but it’s even better if you celebrate it. Not only will that celebration give you more of an incentive for next time, but it will help you lift your spirits this time.

Obviously, you should avoid drink or drugs. Instead, give yourself time off, go to a nice restaurant, go see a play. Do something healthy and relaxing that you enjoy and rarely get the time to do. And be sure to bring someone else along with you to share in your joy and to congratulate you.

And Finally…

Finally, remember that you’re not in the clear just because you’re sober. Your life needs to remain on track, because there is always a threat of relapse.

So, once you accomplish your recovery goals you should keep that list going. Add health goals, career goals, love goals. Our brains crave a little order. They respond well to set goals and the joy they derive from hitting targets is a natural high that you will come to crave.

And let’s be honest, between drugs/drink and accomplishing all of your life goals, which would you rather be addicted to?


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