Wellness In Recovery From Addictive Disorders
GORSKI-CENAPS Web Publications
Published On: August 10,
2001 Updated On: August 10, 2001
© Terence T. Gorski, 2001
These Books & Manuals On Relapse
GORSKI-CENAPS Books - www.relapse.org 1-800-767-8181
& Consultation: www.tgorski.com,
Gorski-CENAPS, 17900 Dixie Hwy, Homewood, IL 60430, 708-799-5000
From Addictive Disorders
By John Newport, Ph.D., Dr.P.H., CEAP
article is in follow-up from my recent piece entitled “The Wellness,
Recovery Connection”, published in the Winter, 2000 issue of the EAP
Digest. The earlier
article summarizes my recent research findings focusing on the positive
association between a wellness-oriented lifestyle and successfulness of
recovery from chemical dependency, together with practical applications
for EAPs and treatment professionals. The current article is geared specifically to recovering
alcoholics and addicts, designed to give them practical pointers for
incorporating a wellness-oriented lifestyle into their recovery programs.
I fully encourage treatment professionals to reproduce this article
and share it with clients in your program who can benefit from these tips.
I firmly believe that a wellness-oriented lifestyle goes hand in
hand with working a 12-step program, in enhancing the quality of sobriety
enjoyed by persons recovering from addictive disorders.
Unfortunately, millions of persons in recovery unwittingly
short-change themselves of years, if not decades of joyful and productive
living through succumbing to heart disease, cancer, diabetes and a host of
other preventable illnesses associated with self-destructive lifestyle
patterns. The key to deriving
maximum benefit from your recovery experience lies in taking charge of
your health and consciously embracing a wellness lifestyle.
The following pointers are designed to assist persons in
recovery in incorporating a wellness-oriented lifestyle into their
recovery programs. While
specifically targeted to recovering alcoholics and addicts, these
principles also apply to persons recovering from other addictive
suggestions are meant to apply to most persons in most situations.
In the event of pre-existing health problems, it is advisable to
consult with your primary physician concerning the applicability of these
and any other wellness suggestions to your particular situation.
- Sound nutrition is one of the cornerstones of lasting
sobriety. Eat three
wholesome meals a day and don’t skip meals.
A balanced diet, which emphasizes fresh vegetables, fruits,
grains and lean sources of protein, is highly recommended.
- Go lightly on (or eliminate) caffeine, refined sugars
and white flour products. Refined
carbohydrates are “nutritional stressors” and “empty
calories”. It is also
advisable to cut back on meats, dairy products and other high-fat
- Maintain your proper weight through a combination of
balanced diet and exercise.
- Consider adding multivitamin supplements to your daily
remember that vitamin supplements are not a substitute for a balanced,
- A regular program of vigorous exercise is highly
recommended for cardiovascular endurance, as well as for safeguarding
against relapse. If you
choose walking, build up to a program of 45 minutes, 5 times a week.
If you prefer more vigorous exercise, e.g. running, swimming or
aerobic dance, a regimen of 3-5 workouts per week (30 minutes per
workout) is recommended.
- KEY: Choose
an exercise that you enjoy – otherwise you won’t stay with it.
- Set aside several minutes each day for stretching
exercises for flexibility. Ideally,
you should also work a muscle toning exercise session (weight lifting
or other resistance training) into your schedule at least twice a
Management & Social Supports
- Practice the Serenity Prayer throughout the day.
In my opinion, this is the most powerful stress management tool
- Learn the art of self-nurturance and giving and
receiving position strokes. Get
(and give) at least 5 hugs a day!
- Set aside a daily mind-quieting period (10-20 minutes)
for meditation, prayer, listening to relaxing music or just sitting
- Recognize that clear and harmonious communications are
essential to stress reduction and sobriety maintenance, as most
stresses in our lives arise from lack of harmony in our communications
- Learn the art of time management and avoid
overscheduling yourself. Consciously
schedule some “slack time” into your daily routine.
- Be sure to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
If you suffer from insomnia, ask yourself if you are consuming
too much caffeine or sugar. Take
a warm bath or otherwise relax yourself prior to going to bed.
- While many recovering alcoholics and addicts are
smokers, most would like to quit.
If you are struggling to free yourself from nicotine addiction,
discuss your desire to quit with your primary physician.
Check out low cost stop smoking support groups offered by your
health plan and community organizations, such as the American Cancer
Society and American Lung Association.
Many former smokers have used hypnosis to help them kick the
habit. Be persistent –
the average smoker quits smoking 5 times before kicking the habit for
- Appreciate the connection between personal fulfillment
and positive health. It’s
no coincidence that throughout history, great composers, artists and
other persons driven by creative fulfillment have consistently enjoyed
unusually long life spans.
- Strive to find and express your unique sense of
purpose in life, and strike a healthy balance between work, relaxation
and creative pursuits.
wellness lifestyle is not intended as a substitute for following a 12-step
recovery program. Rather, the wellness principles I am recommending go hand in
had with “working your program”.
wellness-oriented lifestyle and associated benefits can be yours through
incorporating these and other common sense wellness principles into your
life. Remember, you don’t
need to attempt to instantly adopt all of these suggestions. Focus on a goal of transitioning yourself into a
wellness-oriented lifestyle, one day at a time. Make pursuing health-conducive lifestyle choices a hobby and
enjoy the process!
Newport, Ph.D., Dr.P.H., CEAP is an EAP/addictions consultant and health
promotion specialist based in Santa Ana, Calif.
He holds combined doctorates in psychology and public health, and
has served as a professor, a wellness coordinator for a major
California-based HMO and as program coordinator for a hospital-based
chemical dependency treatment program.
He is currently in the process of completing a book to be entitled Wellness
and Recovery: How to Attain Optimal Health and Personal Growth While
Recovering From Chemical Dependency.
He can be reached at (310) 222-5014 and on-line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Newport invites readers to reproduce this article
and share it with your program clients, provided that authorship credit is
cited and that CENAPS is credited as the original source for this