Cycling during Recovery – 5 Great Ways it Combats Addiction

My Story

I got drunk for the very first time when I was 9-years old. However, my high from alcohol wasn’t enough as my childhood years went by. At 14, I was smoking weed every day and, at 19, finally an adult and all grown up, I moved onto to harder drugs. Prison followed soon after.

Was I a bad kid? Who knows? Was my childhood an unhappy one? No. Definitely not. Did my grades suffer? You bet. I’m an older adult now. I have been sober for 8 whole years. 8 years since the last hit, 8 years since the last swig from a rapidly-emptying bottle of liquor.

I think about that first drink a lot. It wasn’t because I was sad (my whole family were at a party, laughing and joking, having a good time) – it was mostly curiosity, I guess. I was watching my Dad, my uncles, throwing this clear liquor down their necks, and I just wanted to be like them. But it wasn’t enough. It was never enough.

And then, one day, a lot further down a road lined with drugs, jail-time, relapses, lost women and lost friends, tears and an attempt at suicide, it really was enough. No more. Hand on my heart, I’m glad I got to see that day. I was ready. Finally. When the door to that Idaho rehab center opened, I literally ran in, heart pounding.

The people I encountered there – the doctors, the therapists, the other addicts – gave me the tools to survive when I finally went out the door I came in. These tools would allow me to live my life, to feel better and at peace with myself, without the need for alcohol or drugs. Once outside, firmly back in the real world, I used the tools I had so gratefully received during my time in rehab. And I started to truly survive.

However, being the kind of character who always will want more, I started to look for something that could really improve me as a person, as well as being a stable part of my recovery. So, that’s when I met the world of cycling. A simple, leisurely pursuit, for sure, but now an integral part of me and my recovery.

Cycling has been the cornerstone of my recovery so far and I’m 8 years down a better road now. So, I would like to share these 5 great reasons to cycle during recovery from addiction:

1. Cycling Gives Me a Reason to Get Out of the House

Curtains drawn, sat in yesterday’s clothes, TV on and getting high. That’s a pretty good summary of what my life used to be like. Sad, isn’t it? Try it for a week and you’ll think you’ve gone mad. I only ever left the house to buy more of whatever I needed at the time – booze, pills, powder. I hated people looking at me, at what I was.

Now, thanks to cycling, I’m out every day. It could be hot or cold, sunshine or showers, it doesn’t matter. Just feeling that fresh air filling your lungs and seeing something new in the street or out in the fields is like a blessing to me. I’ve finally opened the curtains and let the world in.

2. Cycling Reduces Negative Feelings like Tension, Anger & Stress

Negative feelings used to fill every single one of my days as an addict. However, negativity is part of life. It’s just, as an addict, you can’t deal with that. Because of cycling, I can deal with it now.

If I start to worry or feel tense or get angry, I literally just get on my bike and take off. I always start slow and build up the pace. Before I know it, my frustrations simply evaporate. For me, it’s great therapy, even better than the usual therapies offered to those in recovery.

3. Cycling Got Me Fit & Keeps Me There

Exercise was always an issue for me. Spending most of my days in some substance-induced haze probably didn’t help either. After I left rehab, I did try the gym. One word – boring. I felt like some kind of lab rat in an experiment.

An AA friend recommended cycling, so I tried it. I’ve never looked back – eyes on the road! And, boy, does it get you fit in a fun way.

4. Cycling Helps Me to Connect with People

All addicts will testify that addiction is a terribly lonely existence. No real friends to speak of, at all. Cycling has allowed me to really connect with some many new faces, and I have made many friends through it.

We do races, trials and charity events together (a really important word that – together). The general air of fun and enthusiasm around these people is contagious. As a recovering addict, I’m so grateful for that.

5. Cycling Means I’m a Good Person to be Around – Even for Me!

Addicts aren’t full of self-confidence, that’s for sure. Any self-esteem went a long time ago. I, for one, never really felt like I was enough, if that makes sense. However, once I started cycling, my confidence returned to me and I started to feel good about myself and who I truly was.

It makes me feel free, when, for so long, I have felt like a prisoner (for two whole years, I actually was one) and it has given me pride in my physical and mental health.

The Road Goes On…

Leaving rehab, although not the beginning of my recovery, was very frightening to me. I had one question: Could I trust myself? Being an addict was all I ever thought I could be, that kind of life was all I’d ever really known. As they say, one day at a time. One minute at a time, if that’s what it takes. Cycling has given me many things; for me, the most important is trust in myself. I’m on the right road.

Carl Towns

Sober Writer at Narcotics Anonymous
Just to tell you a little bit about me, I have been sober for 4 and a half years now, I was an alcoholic and I was addicted to some party drugs like cocaine, it has been a hard battle but it has also been worth it, little by little I have gotten bits and pieces of my life back and that’s something I am grateful for every day.

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