Some experiences just make you feel good! Last Saturday I participated in such an experience.
Individuals in early recovery have brain changes from their disease that makes continued abstinence difficult. Not only is the dopamine and endorphin systems dysfunctional, but their brain is also producing increased catecholamines (like adrenalin) causing anxiety. Anything that can help the brain recover improves the chance of success in recovery. Teamwork and exercise are two activities that have been shown to stimulate our own endorphins and dopamine.
Pedal4Life is a 501c3 organization that helps people in recovery from the disease of addiction to maximize their chance of successful treatment through bike riding and teamwork.
This past Saturday I participated in a “recovery ride” with Pedal4Life and Banyan Treatment Center in Naperville, Illinois - a suburb of Chicago. This was a day-long program where we shared experiences and talked about dopamine, endorphins, recovery, and teamwork. We then went on a 10-mile team ride through a large park in Naperville on bicycles provided by Performance Bicycle.
What a thrill it was to see the transition in those participating! The eight individuals in treatment filed into the room at 9:15 am, slowly, with their heads down and very quiet. By the end of the ride, they were joking, laughing, and having a wonderful time.
These rides will occur weekly for a total of six weeks. For those who participate in every ride, Pedal4Life will give them their bike to continue riding wherever their home may be. What a great program! I am proud to be (a very small) part of it.
Thanks to Ira David Levy for his vision and his work on this program. Thanks also to Banyan Treatment Center and Performance Bicycles for their enthusiastic participation and efforts.
There is no one solution to our nation’s addiction problem. It will take many people and groups working together. Organizations like Pedal4Life are critical to those efforts.