It is possible to struggle with substance abuse and still be committed to working out. The Star of Lakeview Health, a gender responsive residential treatment program for men in Jacksonville, Florida, recognizes the importance of allowing clients to maintain their commitment to the gym. The Wellness Center at Lakeview Health helps clients redefine their fitness goals in recovery and learn new ways to stay active that promote mental, emotional and physical health. We recently spoke to Justin, who chose The Star of Lakeview because it emphasized the importance of health and fitness. This is his story of recovery:
I have been sober since May 31, 2017. I quit drinking for the first time when I was 19 and stayed sober for three years. After I relapsed, I kept drinking for a year but, thanks to my time sober, I knew in the back of my mind that I had a problem. Throughout all my drinking, I always went to the gym. Sometimes I would drink all night, then run for miles the next morning to try to make myself feel better. After awhile, my overall health was suffering because of my alcoholism. I originally found Lakeview in May 2016 and I chose the facility because of the fitness program.
Running from Problems
Running has always been a big part of my life. I struggled with drinking for years before my first trip to treatment, but I was still physically active. In some ways, this made it easier to justify my drinking because I told myself I was fit. I may have been exercising, but now I realize that my relationship with my body was a reflection of my mental state—unhealthy.
Being a young guy, in college, there was a lot of alcohol around and that was hard for me. Drinking felt normal. I took a semester off school after my first stay at Lakeview, feeling like I needed that time to work on myself. But when I returned to finish my degree, I started drinking again. I maintained all my responsibilities, but inside I was struggling. After I graduated, I immediately returned to Lakeview and have been sober ever since. I knew I needed to make some serious changes in order to move to the next phase of my life. I was ready.
Putting in Work
When I came back to Lakeview, I was really committed to getting sober and doing what I needed to stay that way, but it was a rocky start. The staff welcomed me back and made me feel comfortable. People who are going through detox and adjusting to sobriety are not at their best. I had a tough time at first and the counselors were patient and nurturing. I bonded with a couple of the guys and spent a lot of time with them. There’s a cafeteria that’s set up to be more like a hang out spot, with TVs playing sports and newspapers and snacks available all the time. I enjoyed that and I also spent lots of time at the library. It was a nice, quiet place to read and write in my journal.
The Wellness Center at Lakeview was a big reason why I came back. After the detox period, they allow you to go to the gym every day. I found it was a great way to channel my excess energy. There is a badge system, so the trainers can make sure each client is working out at the appropriate intensity for their recovery. You are usually in a group with five or six other guys and you form a bond—it’s a team atmosphere. I was already in pretty good shape, but the Wellness Center helped me learn to use exercise as a way to manage stress and understand the role of fitness in my overall wellness.
They do a lot more than just lift weights and run at the Wellness Center. There is a pool and all different levels of yoga classes, boot camp-style classes and circuit training. There are also health and fitness education groups one day a week that cover topics like nutrition, supplement use and different fitness concepts. Sometimes during the classes, we would have trivia competitions or team challenges that kept things fun and exciting.
A Healthy Life
When I got out of Lakeview I applied what I learned in treatment by making some major changes. I moved to Arizona and went into a sober living house. That really helped me stay on track and required me stay accountable for my recovery at first. Now, I’m transitioning into a role as the manager of my sober living house, which is pretty amazing. I have a great group of sober guys in my life and we do fun, normal things—we just don’t drink. I think that was a big stumbling block for me before; I couldn’t imagine having fun without alcohol. I still stay in touch with the guys I met in treatment. I talk and text with men all who are in recovery all over the country—in New York, Wisconsin and even Maine—all from Lakeview.
I work out four or five days a week now. I still love running for stress relief, but I’m more aware of my body and my physical limits. I have had a couple injuries and have learned how important it is to seek the care of doctors instead of trying to push through the pain. My recovery has taught me how to work through the healing process in a sane, healthy way. I no longer fight against reality; I accept it and move on.
My time at Lakeview showed me that the life choices I thought were huge mistakes have actually helped me become a better person. In recovery I have learned to embrace life, no matter what’s happening, because fighting just doesn’t do any good. For men who are looking for a treatment center that’s going to encourage fitness in recovery, Lakeview Heath is an excellent choice.
Photo provided by Lakeview Health; used with permission.