Why the Wim Hof Method and Addiction Recovery Are Highly Connected

Honesty. It’s a difficult trait to come by and own after admitting drug or alcohol abuse and addiction, but necessary to fully engage in the recovery process. In fact, it can be challenging for those who don’t have addiction-related issues. If you were to ask a group of people who were amidst their recovery what they miss about their former drug or alcohol vices, you might get a common answer, “I miss that rush.” While many addicts began their habit for emotional escapism from an unforeseen or ongoing trauma, some recreational users started experimenting with drugs out of curiosity. And, once tried, it is the pleasure-seeking in the high that keeps bringing them back. A new, yet controversial, wellness craze called the Wim Hof method is making its way into behavioral health, causing a breathtaking stir in the industry. Because together, it could be an ice-breaker for sobriety.

Meditation with a Hard Edge

For years, eastern and traditional medical communities have touted the benefits that holistic healing brings to patients during the detox and subsequent phases of addiction recovery. People who practice meditation and mindfulness regularly give testament to their powers, providing:

  • A sense of calm
  • A healthy escape
  • Enhanced ability to focus
  • Physical agility
  • Mental strength

Although these qualities support greater well-being, they cannot speak to the euphoric rush mentioned earlier. But the Wim Hof method can and does to the many who already practice its teachings, including Scottsdale Recovery Center® Founder, Chris Cohn. “I’ve been doing the Wim Hof cold plunge and breathing now for a few weeks and it’s really powerful. After each session, I feel more and more alive,” he articulated, with an enthusiasm that would drive anyone to try it.

Here’s how it works.

Wellness on a Wim

The practices behind this ideology have been around for decades and originated, almost by sheer impulse, from an extreme athlete in the Netherlands named Wim Hof. In 1976, at the age of 17, Hof had an urge to plunge into the freezing waters of the Beatrixpark canal and from there… a wellness movement began.

He holds many a world record based on physical endurance, extreme temperatures and more. But over time, Hof’s exposure to the elements and overcoming the challenges therein through strategic use of the body’s natural systems led to what we know now as the Wim Hof method. And it’s not for the faint-hearted (physically or emotionally).

A Three-Pronged Approach to Feeling Great

There are three aspects to the Wim Hof method: cold exposure, breathing and commitment. The first two stand on their own merits but the third, commitment, rests on the first two. Once a person has embraced and fully mastered the cold and breathing, commitment through acceptance of the practices and long-term use will raise the level of benefits exponentially. The initial timeframe entails about 10 weeks, long enough for the body and mind to get acclimated to the cold and embrace the breathing techniques.

Here are the benefits with a brief description of the process:

Cold Exposure

  • Increases brown adipose tissue
  • Decreases body fat
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Fortifies immune system
  • Balances hormones
  • Increases endorphins
  • Enhances quality of sleep

Your exposure to cold begins gradually, building up over time. During your normal ‘hot’ shower, shift your last 30 seconds by changing the temperature to cold, something recommended by health practitioners for years. Each week, increase your time spent in the cold water. Once you’ve grown accustomed to cold showers, increase your level of invigoration by taking ice baths, exercise in the cold air or wear less clothing in the cold winter months.


  • Increases oxygen levels
  • Reduces stress
  • Combats harmful pathogens
  • Elevates energy

After minutes of continuous breathing, exhale all the air out of your lungs and hold it there for as long as possible. Sounds wild, right? I mean we’ve all held our breath with air in our lungs but imagine doing it without any air? You can. And you repeat the cycle for four times. You’ll experience a wide range of sensations, one that feels as if your entire body is tingling. It’s like all your cells are singing!

From there, Hof takes you on a meditation journey. Not just any journey. While the body is elated from an increased supply of oxygen, you’ll realize increased strength with minimal effort.

The entire experience results in a juxtaposition of ‘if this’, ‘then that’, culminating in a heightened sense of being and awareness. While most of us spend our time focusing on how to find more comfort, it turns out that comfort is hampering our ability to feel and be the productive people we are designed to be.

But there are naysayers.

The Comfort in Getting Uncomfortable

As with any change, those who begin to use the Wim Hof method will experience new feelings (physically and emotionally) that will spark an uneasiness or discomfort. It’s also how we as humans grow and evolve into ‘better’.

As the body is basically shocked into other levels of norm, there are risks. Some experience lightheadedness or fainting, which is why these teachings should be done under the supervision of experts in Wim Hof methods and never in water alone. Unfortunately, there have been instances of injury and death due to unsafe practices.

Conversely, there is a long list of international scientific studies that shed light on the benefits of cold exposure and breath-holding for elevated wellness. The Feinstein Institute in New York and the University Medical Center St. Radboud in Njemegen found that people can, through the Wim Hof method, change the way their autonomic nervous system responds to and coexists with nature, giving even more creed to the adage, “where there’s a will there’s a way”.

Expanding Your Mindset, One Breath at a Time

Wim Hof and his methods personify what addiction treatment and recovery is meant to do – put each of us back in touch with our senses, each other and the connection to community through a deeper commitment to something greater than ourselves.

Which is why Scottsdale Recovery Center® is bringing the Wim Hof method to its treatment and holistic healing programs.

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According to Arizona Center for Addiction Recovery, known as the upscale rehab in Arizona, getting sober from drugs and alcohol is crucial because you could die. To put it simply, now is the time to GET SOBER !

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