Running for Alcohol & Substance Abuse Recovery

Running for Addiction Recovery


Running & Recovery


There are many positive effects that running can have on addiction recovery. 

When I got sober and began my own recovery journey running was my first introduction to physical activity. I haven’t looked back! 

While there are many physical benefits of running, the first improvements noticed are typically mental. 

These include:

  • A strong sense of increased positive feelings. Known as a “runner’s high” vigorous exercise increases the brain’s endorphin and dopamine levels, which makes you feel better. 
  • Reduced cravings. 
  • Increased sense of being in control. 
  • Clearer thinking. 
  • Higher self-esteem, confidence and sense of achievement.
  • Lower relapse rates in addiction recovery.


There are also a few sensible running points specific to someone in recovery.


  • Avoid routes that take you past bars, shops where alcohol or drugs are easily available. 
  • Don’t be overly ambitious or perfectionistic. As in addiction recovery, focus on doing the right thing one day at a time. 
  • Be careful not to replace one addiction with another. Even though running is healthy overall, it can become a means of avoiding or putting off legitimate responsibilities.
  • Think of running not as a means of running away from addiction, but as running toward that brighter future.

 Even with its benefits, taking up running isn’t an instant-fix solution.


If you’re new to running, consult with a doctor before starting especially if you’re over 40.  Too much too soon can lead to physical injury, which can set you back several days or weeks.

When you’ve also had a substance-abuse problem there’s the additional risk you may have done lasting damage to your heart or other organs.

Once you get medical approval for regular running, take steps to stay fit and stick to a program.


Find a training partner. This will keep you motivated. 

Or join a club (I did and didn’t look back). 

Get up and get active


Discover more activities that can help with Addiction Recovery:  

Yoga for Addiction Recovery 

CrossFit for Addiction Recovery 

Outdoor Activity for Addiction Recovery 

Swimming for Addiction Recovery 

Martial Arts for Addiction Recovery

Climbing for Addiction Recovery

Benefits of Exercise for Addiction Recovery

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