Healthy Habits in Recovery

Sleep, Exercise, Nutrition, and Community Involvement

Learn how each of these components contributes to lasting recovery from addiction.


Healthy Habits in Recovery

Sleep, Exercise, Nutrition, and Community Involvement

Learn how each of these components contributes to a lasting recovery from addiction.

The information presented on this page is a general overview and is offered here as a comprehensive resource. At Ampelis Recovery, our programs are customized and tailored to the individual’s needs. Specific details below that cover treatment protocols may not reflect the protocols used for our clients.

If you would like to learn more about Ampelis Recovery and our customized programs for professional men, please do not hesitate to reach out.


The Four Most Important Healthy Habits to Learn in Recovery

Healthy habits are essential to effective, long-lasting recovery.1 Good habits are the foundation of physical and mental stability necessary to overcome future conflicts, temptations, and day-to-day stressors. You can use several tiny habits to strengthen your resolve, but these are the most important healthy habits.


Proper sleep lowers the chance of liver disease, heart problems, and improves overall mental health.2 People in recovery who suffer any form of sleep disturbance are at a high risk of relapse. Sleep disturbance includes disruptions to sleep quality, length, and natural sleep progression through sleep stages. These disturbances are the result of prolonged neurobiological dysfunction from substance use.3


Exercise improves virtually every system in the body. Daily habits like exercise help improve the mental resolve needed to resist temptation, enhance sleep quality, and increase happy chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. Also, exercise helps ease withdrawal symptoms.3


People with substance use disorder often have nutrition deficiency. In recovery, maintaining proper nutrition is key to replenishing your body’s vitamins, fat stores, and removing toxins. Adequate nutrition is one of many daily habits that also improves mood and mental clarity.4

Engagement in Community

It’s vital to maintain a support system in your life. Support systems help build healthy relationships and teach ways to cope with negative feelings and stress. Engaging in a treatment program is the first step of many healthy habits needed to create a proper support system and commit to the program.5

Learn More About Healing the Brain

  • Holistic Approach
  • Brain Chemistry
  • Positive Psychology

The Impact of Addiction on Sleep

Alcohol Use Disorders Reduce Slow-Wave Sleep

Sleep occurs in stages. The third stage is non-rapid eye movement sleep, also known as slow-wave. Slow-wave sleep is considered the most beneficial type of sleep due to the low brain activity. Alcohol causes neurobiological dysfunction in slow-wave sleep, which results in reduced sleep quality.6

Opioid Dependency Suppresses REM Sleep

Opioids disrupt the length of natural sleep cycles and inhibit REM sleep.7 The suppression of REM sleep causes an inevitable deeper REM stage that can cause several health issues.8

Neurobiological Mechanisms Linking Drug Use with Sleep Disturbances

The brain is composed of multiple neurobiological mechanisms, all working together. Here are a few that affect sleep disturbances.


Addiction reduces the brain’s production of dopamine. Because of this, substances become the only consistent way to produce dopamine or otherwise feel joy. Drug withdrawal combined with the decrease in dopamine caused by drug use can lead to depression and poor sleep.7

Endocannabinoid Receptors

The endocannabinoid system is a regulatory system in the body. Among its many functions, it also controls sleep. Repeated stimulation of this system through cannabis use can cause long-term sleep disturbances during withdrawal, such as terrors and insomnia.7

Opioid Receptors

Opioid receptors are another regulatory system that helps monitor sleep. Overstimulation from drugs creates dysfunction that can result in worsened addiction and sleep disturbances.9

Therapy and Exercise Support Recovery

How Does Therapy Help in Addiction Treatment?

Engagement in addiction therapy increases the likelihood of long-term success in recovery. Studies have shown that engagement in treatment creates a stronger recovery. Therapy can help you address underlying  issues that are creating the substance use disorder. Therapy can also help you determine and achieve goals, including building good habits.  Good habits are crucial to recovery, and engagement in treatment is one of several good habits.


Exercise in addiction recovery boosts mood, mental clarity, and physical systems. These changes have profound effects on overcoming addiction and dealing with stressors. Healthy habits like exercise can be done almost anywhere and are effective in combatting most substance addictions.10

Follow-Through is the Main Problem

The biggest drawback to exercise-based treatment is that many clients abandon their workout routine in the long-term. This can lead to an increased chance of relapse or emotional instability.11

Nutrition in Recovery

How Substances Hurt Nutrition

Substances hurt nutrition in several ways. Substance use disorder decreases the physical ability to absorb healthy nutrients and vitamins. Additionally, substance cravings override food cravings and reduce hunger pains, resulting in poor diet and sporadic eating. Combining these effects and others, such as the effect on mood and even finances, cause malnutrition in individuals who suffer from addiction.12

What to Eat to Improve Your Nutrition in Addiction Treatment?

Knowing exactly what to eat to improve your nutrition can make all the difference in recovery. Here are few recommended additions to your diet and tips to follow.

Chicken, Fish, Nuts, and Legumes
These foods are heart-healthy and high in protein. Protein is needed to stabilize mood, build muscle, and increase energy levels. They also lower blood pressure.13

Spinach, Apples, Brown Rice, and Broccoli
These foods are high in complex carbohydrates. Complex carbs provide longer-lasting energy due to the slow release of sugar into the bloodstream.14

Whole Fruits, Whole Grains, and Brown Rice
These foods are high in dietary fibers.13 Dietary fiber helps soothe the digestive tract and improve the immune system.15 Dietary fiber also enhances energy levels and helps with weight loss.

Vitamins, Supplements, and Amino Acids
Vitamins and supplements help improve mood, energy, and the respiratory system. Amino acids, the building blocks of cells, help build muscle, restore energy, and are a necessary part of a balanced diet.16 Combining each of these food groups into your diet will improve your health in the long run. Remember to follow a set eating schedule and to cut back on processed food.17

How to Establish Healthy Habits

Learning health habits is not always easy. It takes time and practice to be able to commit to good habits. It begins with your goals.

Smart Goals

SMART is an acronym for an effective goal setting approach. It stands for Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.


Setting a specific and achievable goal is easier to accomplish than a vague one. For example, a specific goal might be to work out every other day for 10 minutes for a month. Conversely, the non-specific version of that goal would be to get into shape.


Following the same example, measurable in this case would be how much weight you have gained or lost. Measurable goals allow you to chart your progress clearly and concisely. Often, negative thoughts can reduce the quality and effort of a goal. By choosing a goal with measurable results, you cannot deny how far you have come and know exactly how far you have to go. Being able to chronicle your good habits is an easy way to build longer-lasting commitment.


Achievable goals are a facet of realistic goal setting. Setting achievable goals means not setting yourself up for failure by picking an overly difficult task. Keeping with the same example, an attainable goal would be to lose or gain 1-2 pounds in a month of working out. An unachievable and unhealthy goal would be to lose or gain 100 pounds in a month. Choosing an achievable goal ensures you do not get discouraged and quit.


Your goal should be specific to your overall plan. If you plan to change your weight or build good habits, then working out is a relevant goal. An irrelevant goal would be anything outside the realm of physical or mental betterment. By picking a relevant goal, you ensure that you do not waste your time.


Time-bound goals ensure that you must actively build towards it and establish a working pace within a period of time.

How Can Professionals Help?

Many professionals teach clients how to use SMART goals to establish healthy habits. They also teach coping mechanisms to help with stressors and setbacks while simultaneously keeping a client-focused on the task at hand. Psychologists, medical doctors, and counselors are a great support system for long-term objectives and advice on reaching them.

Realistic Goal-Setting

Realistic goal-setting is creating small, manageable goals that build momentum and motivation for the larger goal. Realistic goals encourage you to continue working and reduce the chance of becoming burned out. Goal-setting also helps increase commitment to the recovery program.18

How to Change Bad Habits

Start Small

No one changes overnight. It takes time, and it is best to start small. Remember to keep track of your goals and healthy habits. Measure them from time to time and note the changes.

Use Tiny Habits

Maintain tiny habits such as taking the stairs once per day instead of the elevator. Or drinking one more glass of water daily can make a world of difference. Abandoning tiny negative habits can have the same effect. Tiny habits should be simple, easy, and quick things you can immediately change.

Be Consistent

Consistency is key. Develop good habits and maintain them to reap the long-term benefits of healthy living.

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