The list of potential benefits to be gained from exercising is long. There are psychological benefits, behavioral benefits, and physical benefits of exercise. For those recovering from drug or alcohol addiction, the benefits of exercise will help these individuals lead healthy, stable, and consistent lives.
Two studies examine the benefits of exercise in addiction treatment
Data from a 2014 study published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse shows that exercise is beneficial for addicts’ recovery. Quote from the study authors Linke and Ussher, “Numerous theoretical and practical reasons speak in favor of exercise-based treatments of SUDs (Substance Use Disorders), including psychological, behavioral, neurobiological, almost universal safety profiles and overall positive health effects. … Because exercise is a healthy lifestyle behavior that prevents, reduces, and / or treats a wide variety of mental and physical health problems with few negative side effects, prescribing exercise as a treatment for SUDs is low risk and potentially helpful for a variety of problems, which are usually associated with SUDs. “
Data from the same study also suggests that people who do not exercise are more likely to use substances than people who do exercise (excluding demographics of adolescents and athletes). Not only does exercise have a healing and therapeutic element, but those who do exercise generally seem less likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol.
While the study cited above explored the general concept that exercise benefits addicts’ recovery, another study published in Behavioral Brain Research focused specifically on the use of exercise as a treatment for cocaine addicts recovery.
“Exercise has been shown to reduce stress and reduce the likelihood of drug addiction, while reducing human cravings …”
This study found that exercise benefited recovering addicts from the stress-relieving aspects of exercise alone. Quote from the study authors Robison, Alessi and Thanos, “Stress increases the likelihood of cocaine relapse in humans and animals, even after a long period of extinction / abstinence. Exercise has been shown to reduce stress and reduce the likelihood of drug addiction, while also reducing cravings in humans and inhibiting relapse behaviors due to other risk factors in rodents. … The current study found that exercise inhibits the stress-related reuptake of cocaine. “
Useful part of addiction treatment
In addition to several scientific journals that publish peer-reviewed research on the benefits of exercise for recovering addicts, addiction treatment organizations have vouched for the effectiveness of exercise for people in recovery. Individual medical experts and specialists have also suggested that exercise benefits recovering addicts.
Exercise is becoming a useful part of addiction treatment, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. NIDA has shown that exercise is an effective addiction treatment method to help addicts recover from stress or life challenges. (NIDA also announced that exercise is not a stand-alone treatment and that recovering addicts will need comprehensive care and assistance in overcoming drug and alcohol addiction).
Specialists have also commented on the benefits of exercise for those trying to get away from drugs and alcohol. Write a column for Harvard Health Publishing, of Harvard Medical School Journal, said Dr. Claire Twark, “A small human study looked at an exercise program offered to 38 men and women who abused a variety of substances, including opioids, cannabis, amphetamines, and cocaine. Participants agreed to take part in group exercises three times a week for two to six months. Twenty people completed the intervention. When reassessed a year later, five said they were abstinent and ten said they had reduced their substance use. … In combination with what we know about other treatments, exercise holds great promise. “
The physical benefits of exercising while recovering
Exercising during recovery provides the physical benefit of healing, repairing, and rebuilding the body. Exercise is beneficial for everyone, but it’s especially helpful for recovering addicts trying to repair their bodies after months or years of substance abuse. Exercise improves cardiovascular health, lowers the risk of some cancers, stimulates the immune system, and can even repair nerve connections in the brain.
Exercise also releases endorphins, endorphins being a “feel good” chemical with analgesic effects. Exercise is a great way to experience a natural high, a chemical reaction to physical activity. The individual’s brain lets them know that they are doing something good for the body.
The behavioral benefits of exercise during recovery
The structure, routine, and daily activities of exercise can work wonders for a recovering addict. Recovering addicts should look for a structure in their life, for routines that allow them to build stability and reliable systems into their lives that they can rely on.
Exercise adds a daily chore to the life of a recovering addict, an activity they spend awake hours in that benefits their life (as opposed to them). Exercise takes time, and recovering addicts should take care to fill their waking hours with positive activities that will help them, not those that hinder them.
Exercise also gives recovering addicts a new hobby, a new joy, and a healthy endeavor to immerse themselves in, something positive to pursue that can reinvigorate their minds and energize their bodies.
The psychological and emotional benefits of exercising during recovery
Exercise can help recovering addicts feel better emotionally. Exercise helps improve self-image and strengthens self-confidence and self-esteem, essential components of building stability in recovery. Exercise helps repair the damage done to the body during the use of drugs and alcohol (which also improves emotional and psychological well-being).
Exercise isn’t complicated; it doesn’t require a lot of thought, planning, strategy, or financial investment. It’s an easy way to break away from everyday life and focus on health and wellbeing for an hour. Exercise is an emotional and spiritual reset button for many recovering addicts, giving them a daily break and an opportunity to feel good no matter what challenges they go through that day.
Exercise for Recovery – Exercise for a Brighter Future
The descent from drugs and alcohol is much more than just seeking help from a drug and alcohol treatment center. Seeking help is a great first step and critical in the recovery process, but it is only a first step.
Stop using drugs and alcohol and stay Avoiding drugs and alcohol means creating a life that is conducive to a drug-free life. Repairing your body and improving health through exercise is a big part of it.