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Three Signs of Exercise Addiction You Shouldn’t Ignore

Women in the early recovery stages from drug and alcohol addiction can find themselves in the midst of what is called an “addiction swap”. Part of the program of recovery is to find activities, mentalities, and lifestyles which fulfill the “need” for abusing drugs and alcohol. Sometimes, women can get lost in the difference between fulfilling their own needs and replacing the need once fulfilled by drugs and alcohol. Exercise is a common “addiction swap” that women can experience in their recovery. If you believe you or a woman you know is demonstrating these signs, a healthy intervention of compassionate care and concern can help.

Experiencing stress, distress, anger, rage, or frustration if you miss a workout session: Getting a little frustrated when you miss out on a goal is normal. For example, if you have dedicated yourself to the gym 4-5 days a week and you miss out on one of those days, you might be frustrated. You can always make up for it the next day, do a different workout at home, or just accept that life happens and within it, mistakes happen. Should your reaction to missing a workout become extreme, as in severe stress, distress to the point your whole day goes amiss, you are angry and taking it out on others, you have rage that overtakes your body, or a deep and guilt-driven, self-punishing frustration, these are signs that your emotional relationship with working out has gone awry.

Making more time than necessary to be physical with your body: Creating a healthy, balanced schedule which includes ample time for exercise is important for recovery. Part of the program of “self-care” a woman establishes for herself includes regular exercise. A balanced recovery lifestyle also includes time for friends, therapy, healing therapies, adventure, experiences, 12-step meetings, aftercare, family, responsibilities, work, and more. Cancellations on other parts of your program for living might start as “just one time” that “doesn’t really matter” and turn into more. If you find yourself cancelling more and more of your schedule to spend more time working out, recovering from working out, or doing physical things with your body, this is a strong sign that a dependency on exercise has developed.

Working out when your body is sore, tired, and hurting: Working through soreness can be beneficial, sometimes. The average body gets sore and needs time to recover. Active recovery can be helpful for breaking through to new training levels. Exercise addiction, however, can take a toll on the body. Over-exercising can sometimes lead to under-eating or being dehydrated. Even with the “perfect” diet to compensate, there is only so much physical activity the body can take. Working out despite obvious signs that the body is exhausted and needs a break can become dangerous.


Your life is just beginning. After treatment, women have options for continuing their clinical care and growth in sobriety. Villa Tranquil offers a unique transitional living opportunity for women between the ages of 18-65. Independently owned and operated by clinicians, our program helps women expand their lives, heal relationships, and become compassionately authentic. For information on availability and programming, call us today: 214-799-3080