Should my recovering alcoholic brother in law take up running?

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03/01/2013 at 10:00
My brother in law is as above. I have been so pleased with my own running progress over the last year, that I have been extolling the virtues of running to all and sundry. My brother in law has now asked me how I started (NHS Coices C25K) Well, I gave him the information and then wondered whether I did the right thing. My thinking was that excercise is always a good thing but is it so good with a recovering alcoholic??
03/01/2013 at 10:06


Why wouldn't it be? I can't think of any reason why any able bodied person shouldn't start running. I can't see any reason why an alchy can't start running either, there's at least two current threads on here about that now, "on the wagon for January" and some other alchy thread I forget the name.

03/01/2013 at 10:08

I'm no expert but he's no doubt given his body a bit of abuse, so the best person to visit first is probably his GP for a proper once-over.  If there are no particular risks from partaking in rigorous exercise (starting off very slowly, obviously) I'd say go for it.  Running's a pretty good diversion for someone with an addictive personality.  Good luck to him.

03/01/2013 at 10:09

a psychologist friend once told me that therapists sometimes discourage recovering addicts (heroin in his case) from taking up running because they develop unhealthy levels of addiction to running, as they did with drugs.

but i told him her she was talking bollocks.

03/01/2013 at 10:12

Dude - Him/her ? Have way through the op ??

03/01/2013 at 10:12

* Half way through the op ?? 

03/01/2013 at 10:12
the dude abides wrote (see)

a psychologist friend once told me that therapists sometimes discourage recovering addicts (heroin in his case) from taking up running because they develop unhealthy levels of addiction to running, as they did with drugs.

but i told him her she was talking bollocks.

It's not as much bollocks as you think. Anyone with an addictive personality can transfer that addiction to something else 'quite easily'. I've known a friend who was a smoker and gave that up, started running and replaced the buzz they got from smoking with running.

As Philpub said - first bet is the doctor to make sure that they're OK.

03/01/2013 at 10:16
I think I will ask him to see his GP first. Thanks for the replies.
03/01/2013 at 10:21

EmmyH - THAT part of it I agree with i just disagreed that it was necessarily a bad or unhealthy thing to do so.


03/01/2013 at 10:44

Interesting.  I suppose a healthy addiction is better than an unhealthy one.  What's the worst that can happen?  Would an obsessive newbie runner be more likely to get injured? 

03/01/2013 at 10:49

an alcoholic is also likely to have other addictions - smoking usually.  if he smokes he needs to pack that in as well to help him exercise easier - better lung function etc - but can he pack 2 vices in??  

I would also think running will accelerate his liver recovery but he needs medical advice first

03/01/2013 at 10:52

my guess is that swapping one addiction from another does not address the possible emotional issues driving the addiction in the first place. does not get to root cause, just alters the source of the buzz.

it is undeniably more healthy physically, less so emotionally.

03/01/2013 at 14:45

As subtle as ever Nick. You need to learn when to joke and when to be serious. You got it wrong this time

03/01/2013 at 21:14

that's a new one on me. translate?

03/01/2013 at 21:19
03/01/2013 at 21:26

thanks. crikey that's a bit strong!

05/01/2013 at 12:41
Nick - YAAT
05/01/2013 at 12:59

When I saw a therapist I told him I was using a positive addiction to keep me focused.  There wasn't too much concern apart from me saying I was addicted to running which was not what I meant it was just something that kept me out of trouble! Anyway, I am far happier when focused on running and stops my mind from wondering.

Nick - I enjoyed the joke (but then i'm not an alcoholic).  I also appreciate other people's concerns for how it may not be enjoyed or in good taste.  

05/01/2013 at 15:02

There is no such thing as a healthy addiction, it's just that some are more unhealthy than others. 

You say he is a recovering alcoholic? To what degree? Is he just going cold turkey? Is he being helped by CDAT or similar? Is he on meds to combat the effects of alcohol withdrawel? Was he a functioning alcoholic or nearer to the sterotype of park benches and cans of special brew? How long has he been dry?

All of those questions are relevent before anyone can even begin to offer an opinion. 

But one of the big problems that many recovering alcoholics have is that drinking was their social life and took up much of their spare time and they need something to replace that. Running quite easily could and would fill those voids and longterm there is no reason why ultimately they shouldn't but in the short term it could still be a bad idea.


Edited: 05/01/2013 at 15:02
05/01/2013 at 16:25

If he wants to, and if he hasn't wrecked his body too badly, then its a hell of a lot better than starting drinking again.

Hope he manages to stay on the wagon- it's a tough one- similar trouble in my family too.

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