Martial Arts and Mastering Recovery

Martial Arts and Mastering RecoveryAddiction recovery counselors almost universally recommend that recovering addicts and alcoholics adopt a physical exercise program to assist in their attempts to beat addiction. Exercise programs that combine mental and physical training, such as yoga and martial arts, are well-suited for this purpose. Martial arts, in particular, will appeal to individuals who are interested in more immediate and faster-paced physical activity.

Martial Arts and Mastering Recovery

Multiple forms of martial arts are available to fit all levels and abilities. Recovery programs have incorporated karate, kung fu, muay thai, tae kwon do, and aikido for individuals who want a more aggressive program, and tai chi for more meditative individuals. When pursued regularly, each of these programs will help recovering addicts and alcoholics to regain their physical strength, improve their hand-eye coordination, and enhance their flexibility and balance, all while giving them the tools they may need to handle stresses in their lives that would otherwise drive them back to drinking or drugs.

Instilling discipline is the common thread that runs through all martial arts programs. Individuals who are fighting addictions are often able to survive the physical withdrawal pains that they experience when they are going through detox, but later fall prey to the psychological addictive urges that make drugs and alcohol seem like the only option that is available to them when events in their lives turn sour. The mental discipline skills that are part of martial arts training increase an addict’s awareness of these subconscious urges, which will help him or her to reject those urges.

Martial Arts and Mastering Yourself

Martial arts will also instill a greater sense of confidence and self-esteem, both of which might be long lost in many recovering addicts and alcoholics. Addiction attacks an individual’s sense of self. Recovering addicts who experience relapses will suffer from a reduced self-esteem and guilt over their self-perceived inability to stay away from drugs or alcohol. Rebuilding that self-esteem and rejecting guilt feelings are important elements of preventing further relapses. The martial arts learning curve is steep and fast, and many practitioners find that the early stages of their progression through the martial arts ranks can quickly build their confidence in their abilities, not just in martial arts, but also in other aspects of their lives.

A regular program of martial arts training will also alleviate the sometimes crushing sense of boredom that recovering addicts and alcoholics experience in their initial recovery stages. Those individuals can find themselves at a loss for options to fill their time or to entertain themselves away from drugs and alcohol, and they frequently go back to those substances for no  reason other than having nothing better to do. Martial arts will fill that void and refocus their energy into a more positive course of activities.


Addiction recovery centers, YMCA’s and local martial arts training schools are available in most metropolitan areas. Recovering addicts who are interested in a martial arts program should first check with their physicians to confirm that they are physically capable of handling the initial demands of a martial arts program and for recommendations on how much physical activity their bodies can handle in their early recovery phases.

For more suggestions on using martial arts to enhance your recovery from drug addiction or alcoholism, please call Sustain Recovery Services at (949) 407-9052.