We commonly talk about recovery from a substance use disorder as a journey. It is a useful metaphor because it highlights the ways in which recovery is always unfurling in front of us and can only be traversed one step at time.
In this entry, however, we want to make the metaphor a little more literal. Let’s take a look at Ernst Trail, a five-mile path not far from French Creek Recovery Center that is emblematic of the recovery journey—and that can also remind us of a few key ways to ease your way as you travel on.
Transformation is Possible: A Quick History of Ernst Trail
The path now known as Ernst Trail was originally a railroad. Built from 1880-1892, the Meadville-Linesville Railroad was created to link up with the Pennsylvania Railroad. The railroad was most successful as a passenger line, but the increasing popularity of the automobile led to the end of service in 1934. The line was abandoned for good in 1976. Twenty years later in 1996, owner Calvin Ernst donated the property to French Creek Recreational Trails.
Change is sometimes a long time coming, and it can often seem as though things will always remain just as they are. If you are struggling with drugs or alcohol, it can certainly seem like your fate is sealed and no change will ever be possible. But the Ernst Trail used to be a railroad line and now it is something else entirely. That sort of transformation is possible when you get treatment for your substance use disorder and take the first steps of your recovery journey.
Exercise the Opportunity to Experience Five Miles of Natural Beauty
Whether you walk or bike Ernst Trail, you will be supporting your recovery in key ways. Exercise provides a boost to both your physical and mental health—and having a healthy body and mind is a key component of ongoing sobriety.
Spending time outdoors also allows the sun to provide a much-needed dose of Vitamin D, which offers many healthful benefits including lessening the symptoms of depression. Surrounding yourself with natural beauty also has mental health benefits and tends to lessen the tendency to ruminate about the past in unhelpful ways. Being in the moment and surrounded by beauty is a great way to put your worries down for a moment and remind yourself how much there is to enjoy—and how much easier it is to enjoy the positives in life when you are sober.
Along Ernst Trail, you can marvel at the lush plant life, gaze into the beautiful French Creek, and just soak up everything nature has to offer.
There is Always Room for Growth: Ernst Trail to Expand
Plans are underway to expand Ernst Trail, and according to the trail’s website, the distance available for walking or biking will extend to 13 miles.
It is important to remember that the recovery journey is not static. A person in recovery may find new paths toward protecting their sobriety over time. Expanding your path of sobriety is healthy and helpful. Sometimes a fresh perspective or a new routine is just what you need to keep moving forward.
The Recovery Path is not Always as Smooth as Ernst Trail
Those who enjoy Ernst Trail are treated to a smooth journey. Unfortunately, the recovery journey is not always so smooth. There can be detours and setbacks—including relapse—that can make the recovery journey seem more perilous than pleasant.
The good news, however, is that you can always find your way back to the smoother path. In some cases that might mean returning to treatment. At other times, it might mean making a call to a supportive friend or family member (or to your sponsor) so that you are reminded that you aren’t alone on the path. Sometimes it may mean making a small course correction (adding another recovery meeting to your week, for example) to get you back in the center of the path you have been so steadily walking.
You Recovery Journey Can Start at French Creek Recovery Center
At French Creek Recovery Center, we have the expertise and compassion necessary to help you regain and maintain your sobriety. If you have been wandering around, lost on a path that includes drugs or alcohol, we’d like to help you find your way. The first step toward a new life is a step in our direction. When you are ready to walk away from drugs or alcohol, we are here to help you set the course that leads to lasting sobriety.