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People with ASD: Embracing Healthy Habits to Maintain Sobriety

Article by Patrick Young on behalf of Eric D. Zimmerman and The Buddy Project Inc.:

People with autism commonly struggle with their mental health, reports the University of Cambridge, and take to substances like alcohol or drugs to cope. Many end up developing substance use disorders (SUDs), later, as a result. Treating said SUD is hard when the patient is on the spectrum – an already inherently-challenging treatment must be further tailored to the individual’s unique needs.

If you’re trying to recover from addiction yourself, one of the most effective ways to help yourself and stay sober is by replacing your bad habits with good ones. According to the NIH, healthy habits give you (your brain) the pleasure it’s used to without any of the harmful consequences. They can also help you build up willpower and give you a health boost.

Below, we’ll look at healthy habits that could help you maintain sobriety:

Start a fitness routine

There is a proven link between exercise and addiction recovery. When you exercise, you do something constructive with your time, feel good about yourself (and your body), build up your willpower, and become healthier. Chicago Tribune offers some exercise suggestions (like swimming) that are convenient and effective when you have autism.

Eat healthier

The food you eat has a massive influence on your energy levels, optimism, mind, and health in general. When you eat healthy food, you are less likely to relapse. Some foods that can help you maintain sobriety are grains, chicken, fruits, vegetables, beans, and peanut butter. Avoid sugar, salt, and highly-processed foods.

Make it a point to be with positive people

It’s easier to stay sober if you have optimistic, positive people in your corner. People who are negative or unhealthy themselves, however, can bring you down and even cause you to relapse. Consider actively seeking out and joining support groups for addiction recovery. Also, having conversations with family and friends about your recovery will help.

Spend time outdoors weekly

Nature has many healing properties. It busts stress, gives you energy, and makes you happy (among other things). Make it a point to visit an outdoor setting at least once a week and spend time there. This could be anything that appeals to you – your local park, a lake, a mountain, the beach, or anything else. You can opt for nature-specific activities like forest bathing for better results.

Get a new hobby

Hobbies are wonderful for mental health. They can be stimulating, help you learn new things, and actively bust stress. The best ones can even be a form of exercise. Some examples of good hobbies to pick up are reading, gardening, listening to music, dancing, singing, playing video games, and learning a musical instrument.

Seek professional treatment from a rehab center

There is no substitute for professional treatment. Entering a rehab center can put you in touch with experts and give you access to treatment options tailored to your unique situation. Rehab may also be a good idea if you believe you’re at risk of relapsing. Before choosing a rehab center, research the types of treatments they offer, the credentials, the certifications, and client reviews. If you’re worried about costs, you can look for facilities that provide free treatment services through Medicaid or local health programs. Check local drug rehab options here.


Kicking an addiction can be a long-term, difficult endeavor. Embracing healthy habits, tailored to your individual needs, can make it easier. While they’re not a replacement for professional treatment (like rehab), they can be a wonderful complement to it.

Image via Unsplash


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