It’s not easy. When I first got into recovery, I thought things would somehow work themselves out. It’s definitely not the case. It actually got much harder because I had to deal with the issues that caused me to use drugs in the first place.
As a part of my series about “Heroes Of The Addiction Crisis” I had the pleasure of interviewing Doug Bopst.
Doug Bopst is an award-winning personal trainer, author, speaker and host of the Adversity Advantage Podcast. Fitness saved his life from the depths of despair when he was incarcerated on felony drug charges and now has made it his life’s mission to help others use their adversities to their advantage. He has been featured on national media outlets/podcasts such as the Today Show, Men’s Health, Forbes, Goalcast, Cheddar, Rich Roll’s podcast, Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu, Mind Pump, Rise Together with Dave Hollis, The Darin Olien Show and many others.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a bit of your backstory?
Fitness saved my life from the depths of addiction when I was incarcerated on felony drug charges. At the time, I was suicidal, hopeless and had a crippling opiate addiction. I have been on a mission ever since to share my story to help others to use fitness to change their lives, but also to show people that recovery is possible.
Is there a particular story or incident that inspired you to get involved in your work with opioid and drug addiction?
Yes. I left jail and got clean but I continued to lose friends to overdoses and other substance related deaths. After continuing to see death rates and relapses skyrocket, I decided it was time to put myself out there and share my story. I became a personal trainer to pay it forward. I wanted to help others use fitness to become better versions of themselves. More importantly, I began training others that were in recovery.
Can you explain what brought us to this place? Where did this epidemic come from?
I think we are facing a mental health epidemic and drugs are a symptom of that. As someone who used to believe that pot was the “gateway drug” I have changed my stance a bit and believe that there is unprocessed pain and trauma that can lead to someone using drugs such as marijuana in the first place to cope. That said, I also don’t think it’s that black and white. In my experience, everyone’s story is unique.
Can you describe how your work is making an impact battling this epidemic?
It’s making an impact in many ways. First, a lot of people feel that they are alone and have lost hope with getting into recovery. So, when I share my story, it helps people to know that I am right there with them and that if I can do it, anyone can.
From a fitness perspective, it’s crucial to rewire the brain and replace the unhealthy coping mechanisms with healthy ones. Fitness can be such a catalyst for change because it improves your self confidence, discipline, drive and gets you out of your head. I think there is also something to be said for setting and achieving goals. It helps to boost your self esteem and changes your belief system that you are indeed capable of transformation. This I think is crucial to long term recovery.
Wow! Without sharing real names, can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted by your initiative?
There was a girl in recovery who was really struggling with depression a breakup. Her self esteem had been decimated and she began smoking again and lost an enormous amount of weight. People thought she was ill. I connected with her and asked if she exercised. She had mentioned that she had in the past, but was so insecure that she was afraid to go to the gym. I convinced her to train with me virtually and eventually she began to feel the mental and emotional benefits of working out. She is much healthier and we have become close friends. She has also written a few articles about it.
Can you share something about your work that makes you most proud? Is there a particular story or incident that you found most uplifting?
The beautiful thing about my work is that I have the ability to have an impact not only on a person’s life in that moment, but for the foreseeable future. In many cases when you help someone in these situations, it can positively effect their relationships, professional life and who knows what else.
Can you share three things that the community and society can do to help you address the root of this problem? Can you give some examples?
- Reduce the stigma
- Encourage others to ask for help
- Make fitness a staple in all schools and treatment centers
If you had the power to influence legislation, which three laws would you like to see introduced that might help you in your work?
- I would send non violent drug offenders to treatment or a diversion program instead of jail time or prison
- I would create legislation that would build community centers and hubs for people to hang out in higher risk areas or for those who want to build healthy connections.
- I would investigate treatment centers to be sure they are operating ethically and responsibly.
I know that this is not easy work. What keeps you going?
I should have died multiple times. I felt that I was kept alive so that I could share my story and give others hope. I also made a promise to my cellmate who introduced me to fitness while I was incarcerated that I would pay it forward.
Do you have hope that one day this leading cause of death can be defeated?
As of right now, I am not so sure. I would like to say so, but in reality, the numbers aren’t looking good.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
Being a leader means taking a stand and acting in a way that is aligned with your core values and belief system. It also is defined by not letting the opinions of others stop you from doing what you are called to do or from what is right.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- It’s not easy. When I first got into recovery, I thought things would somehow work themselves out. It’s definitely not the case. It actually got much harder because I had to deal with the issues that caused me to use drugs in the first place.
- Not everyone in the recovery community is in it for the right reasons. There are plenty of people that are preying on the vulnerabilities of others for their own financial gain. That needs to change.
- There is no one way to do recovery. Many will try a particular recovery program and think it’s the only way. There are so many different paths. People have to choose the one that works for them.
- Fitness isn’t the end all be all. I thought if I solely worked out my problems would go away. Fitness only got me so far. I had to incorporate other things such as therapy, personal development, spirituality and being of service to continue to grow.
- Don’t trust what you see on social media. People show mainly the highlights of their life and/or recovery and not the bad stuff.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
That movement would be a staple into EVERY recovery program.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Remember how far you have come and not how far you have to go.” It was something I told myself in my early recovery when I would run. It kept me focused on the positives (how long i had been clean) which is a must for a lasting recovery.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Dave Portnoy from Barstool Sports. I love what he has created with the barstool fund to help save small businesses.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much!