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Reaching recovery goals through running

In celebration of our 50th anniversary, each month we will be sharing a story that highlights one of our programs or treatment populations. This month, we are profiling Ryan, who is training for the New York City Marathon as a member of our Run for Your Life Team.


woman recovery runner rehab

Ryan on a training run with team leader Andre Matthews (left) and her teammates.

After a two-decade struggle with a crack cocaine addiction, Ryan, 34, is ready to live the healthiest life she can. Since returning to Odyssey House last year, Ryan has been working to make better choices for herself and make this time in treatment her last.

During her first time at Odyssey House in 2013, Ryan admits that she wasn’t as committed as she needed to be to maintain her recovery. After leaving the program, she found herself returning to her old habits and she relapsed. Today, she has strengthened her resolve: “I know now that I have to change every aspect of my life, to focus on becoming a better me.”

With her new mindset, Ryan quit smoking, is eating healthier, and training to run the New York City Marathon for a second time. “The first time was to see if I could complete it, but this year it is about setting a personal best.” She credits much of this motivation to the Run for Your Life team, the Odyssey House-sponsored running group that promotes healthy living habits and keeps in contact with a network of recovery peers through twice-weekly training runs in Central Park.

“This is more than a team, it’s my second family,” Ryan says, something that is particularly important to her as her family resides in New England. The team keeps her dedicated to her sobriety and healthy lifestyle. “We help push each other towards success.” As a returning marathoner, she has taken on a leadership role within the team, mentoring the new runners and encouraging them to stick with it.

In addition, the therapeutic effects of running have helped Ryan with her anxiety and given her confidence to apply herself to bigger opportunities. She is in the process of becoming a Certified Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor: “I want a career in helping people who have gone through similar situations to my own,” Ryan explains. “I know I can do anything I put my mind to, especially with the support of my team.”

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