3 Ways CrossFit can help Addiction Recovery

Article written by Devin Golden. The Recovery Village

People who enter rehabilitation from drug or alcohol addiction all have a story about how their
life turned down an unhealthy path.

Just the same, people who begin CrossFit often have a story of how they finally decided to walk
through the doors for the first time.

That’s not the last connection between recovery and the popular, intense exercise routine.
CrossFit gyms around the country have started working with local rehabilitation centers to help
people suffering from substance use disorders transition back to normal daily routines.
CrossFit is one of the most popular physical training regimens in the United States. Developed
by Greg Glassman, the workout combines weightlifting and cardiovascular conditioning that can
be varied for any strength or endurance level and is constantly challenging participants with new
exercises. Experts in the behavioral management medical field agree that focusing on physical
health is an important element of a long-term recovery.

Here are three ways joining a CrossFit program can help people who are adjusting to life
without drugs or alcohol and recently completed rehabilitation.

Staying Busy and Focused

One of the reasons people experience setbacks after rehabilitation is they don’t have set-in-
stone routines to keep their minds off of harmful habits. When they leave rehabilitation and
rejoin society, it can be difficult to adjust away from normal activities, even if they are unhealthy

Having a consistent weekly or daily activity, such as CrossFit or other exercise routines, can be
a positive in many ways. For starters, it keeps people busy and focused on something other
than the drugs or alcohol that could be easily acquired. Boredom is one of the main reasons
people continue their misuse of drugs early in their recovery. Having daily activities like CrossFit
can also help people in the time leading up to the scheduled exercise routine because they will
look forward to it and build excitement, a positive force that can help prevent substance misuse.

Higher Self-Esteem

Frankie Dennis told The Index Journal, a daily newspaper covering Greenwood, South Carolina,
that CrossFit helped him feel, “better about myself.” Formerly suffering from a drug addiction,
Dennis added that he had low self-esteem before joining CrossFit.

His self-view is night and day compared to what it was since starting the exercise routine, and
that’s a similar case for other people.

“I would tell myself that I’m not worth it, and I’m a failure,” said Brian DaLuga, who joined the
same CrossFit gym as Dennis did in Greenwood. “CrossFit really helped me switch my mental

One of the toughest parts about rehabilitation is not being able to mentally get past addiction.
Recovery is a lifelong process, which can be frustrating for people suffering from the disease.
Activities such as CrossFit allow people to achieve success, notice progress and routinely
surpass previous personal bests. This can become a psychological victory and a way to soothe
feelings of being stuck in recovery.

Sense of Community

CrossFit is an individual exercise and can be done alone, but many people participate in classes
with as many as 15 or 20 people. In many of these settings, camaraderie forms between the
participants and CrossFit’s challenging routine breeds a team-oriented environment where
everyone is cheering each other on to the finish line.

Rich Shock told the ABC television affiliate in Denver, Colorado, that he found a “sense of
community” during his recovery from addiction. He added that there’s a “certain energy and
power here when we engage in this together,” because the group is “pushing each other,
supporting each other.”

Shock is one of many people who has found a supportive network through CrossFit. Similar to
attending group therapy sessions in a 12-step recovery program, CrossFit allows people to
thrive in the presence of their peers and receive emotional support while they achieve physical

“I love walking through the door,” Shock told the Denver television station. “The smiles, the
hugs, the fun competition we have with each other. It’s like an oasis in the desert of sickness in
a way.”



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