As you may imagine, the location that people seek out to get and stay sober can make a big difference on their chances of succeeding. When looking at recovery destinations across the US, Colorado ranks very highly as it offers a favorable combination of climate, nature and a strong recovery community.
Colorado has ranked among the top 10 healthiest States for years. Coloradan’s have the lowest obesity rate in the country. This should come as no surprise when considering the combination of stunning mountains and sunny weather. According to a CBS report, there are 245 clear or partly cloudy days in Denver, slightly lower than the rumored 300 days of sun, but still way higher than the national average. Going for a hike in the Rockies combines physical exercise with spending time outdoors in the sun. When it comes to staying healthy, this really is killing 2 birds with one stone.
What does a healthy lifestyle have to do with staying sober? One of the main effects of habitual drug and alcohol abuse is poor physical & mental health. Physically, alcohol stresses the liver and contributes to weight gain. Stimulants like amphetamines can cause weight loss to an unhealthy degree, and opioids contribute to malnutrition. Mentally, many drugs cause or exacerbate anxiety and depression.
Getting sober means getting healthy and for many, this is a long road. The Sunshine is a known mood booster. Sobriety alone already goes a long way towards improving depression and anxiety, but many people feel flat for a long time after they stop using, especially with opioids.
The flat feeling is due to depleted dopamine levels, making it harder to feel joy and excitement. Finding an exciting activity like kayaking, rock climbing, mountain climbing, or martial arts can help people find a natural “high” from the adrenaline produced during so called “extreme” sports. Take advantage of the consistent weather to walk and bike around town; just the consistent physical activity will boost mood and improve overall health.
The Phoenix is an amazing resource which provides a “supportive, physically active community for individuals who are recovering from a substance use disorder and those who choose to live sober.” Phoenix was founded in Colorado, and they offer several daily events from CrossFit to hiking and yoga. The only requirement to show up is 48 hours of sobriety.Work and Education
Colorado is listed as the #1 economy in the States, according to the US News Best States ranking. This means it is easier to find good work here than other parts of the country. Coloradans have a reputation for having a healthy work-life balance. Many people work hard all day and then head for the hills for an evening bike ride.
The same goes for higher education. There are many great colleges and Universities across the front range. From CU Boulder to Colorado College and Denver University there are prestigious schools. For lower cost options MSU Denver and Denver Community College offer a solid education at a very affordable price. While CU Boulder has a reputation as a party school, it also has a robust sober community. The CU Collegiate Recovery Center (CUCRC) is a great resource for those in recovery or looking to maintain their sobriety and surround themselves with individuals with similar interests.
Plugging into a community and building a group of supportive friends and family is vital for long-term recovery. Two important factors for the importance of a robust community are connection, accountability and reduced isolation.
Feeling connected to others is a great way to combat the shame that most addicts feel around their use. Emotional connection is a powerful antidote for several mental health issues. Social isolation increases the likelihood of mental health factors. The best way to avoid social isolation is by having a support network that holds you accountable. That means you have quality relationships with family and friends. Schedule frequent get-togethers, workouts or dinner parties with the people you care about.
Many people need help finding a new social network. There are several resources to integrate people new to the recovery community, some great ones are listed below.
As referenced above, Phoenix Multisport is a great place to find connections with a healthy, supportive and sober community. Check out their packed calendar to see if they offer something that interests you.
Young people in Recovery (YPR) is a national non-profit with several chapters in Colorado. They have an active community of their own and connect people to the resources they need to get housing, work, and education. Whether you are in Colorado or not, look into joining YPR.
According to the Denver Area Central Committee for Alcoholics Anonymous, there are over 150 meetings in the greater Denver area every day. Plugging into regular meetings is an excellent way to stay on track and connect to people who understand addiction and sobriety with all of its struggles and triumphs. Collaborative Rehab Programs
The Denver area has several treatment providers who collaborate to get each client the best possible care. These programs have even connected to form a professional liaison group that meets on a monthly basis for professional development and discussion around how to provide quality, ethical addiction, and mental health care.
Sandstone Care is proud to work well with several other providers and private practice therapists. We want to make sure that everyone gets the best resources and care we can provide. When we get calls from potential clients who are not a good fit for our program, we work to find a better fit. When teens and young adults graduate from Sandstone Care, we provide individualized recommendations for how to stay steady on the recovery path.
To find out more, check out our video: We Are Sandstone Care