Road Race Helps Those in Recovery Move on to New Lives
While this single-mindedness with substance abuse often leads people to physical and emotional harm, this determination could have a positive effect on recovery outcomes. That is the case for Fred Schneider and his fellow runners of the 5-kilometer Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board Recovery Challenge, the Akron Beacon Journal explained. The Ohio-based road race was first put on in 2013 to showcase the incredible spirit of those who have left histories of substance abuse behind them, but this year’s Recovery Challenge is a chance for Schneider, last year’s winner and a former drug user, to do something that he has never done before – repeat.
Running for themselves
Though Schneider is the front-runner for this year’s AMD Recovery Challenge, it was only 2011 when he completed an addiction recovery program for methamphetamine, heroin and other substances.
“There never has been a drug I didn’t like to take,” Schneider told the Akron Beacon Journal. “As soon as I was out of trouble, I jumped back in.”
With the help of a probation officer he met after a run-in with the law, Schneider entered into treatment at a recovery center in central Ohio. He explained that his progress was slow at first and that he did not know if he had the fortitude to succeed in recovery.
However, when Schneider discovered running, everything changed.
Running is a tool that helps me stay sober,” Schneider said. “It has given me a lot of confidence and helped build my self-worth.”
Schneider finished first out of roughly 300 runners in the 2013 AMD Recovery Challenge, and he credited his determination not to beat others but to win for himself as critical to his success.
Jerry Craig, executive director of the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board for Summit County, which operates recovery centers in the Akron area, told the news source that Schneider is becoming a symbol to others looking to kick their addictions to drugs and alcohol.
“His win last year was a goose-bump moment,” Craig said. “This race is about people being able to triumph over challenges, and he exemplifies that by coming back healthy to the place where he struggled to overcome addiction and left to start a new life.”
How exercise helps recovery
Schneider and the rest of his fellow amateur athletes have found a way to turn their obsessions toward healthier ends. While running may not be the sport for everybody, SmartRecovery.org explained that regular physical activity may have several benefits for people looking to rebuild their lives after an addiction.
One of the largest benefits of physical activity is the sense of structure that it gives to people. Exercise plans can be highly regimented, and following each step can help those who have completed recovery programs make it through the day. Exercise also gives people the opportunity to feel like they are accomplishing something. This sense of self-worth is essential to successful recovery efforts.
Aside from the emotional and mental benefits of exercise, it may also help heal bodies affected by heavy drug and alcohol use. Not only will going for a run a few times a week improve cardiovascular and lung functions, but regular exercise may also help the brain create new nerve connections that were damaged by extended substance abuse.
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