San Diego Addiction Treatment Center
While medication and therapy are important resources for addiction recovery, many experts also recommend exercise to help people get and stay sober from drugs. The benefits of exercise for mental health don’t exclude drug abuse.
If you’re seeking drug addiction recovery and you want to learn about exercise as an alternative treatment, we’re here to help. Keep reading to learn all about how exercise can help your treatment and keep you on a sober path.
This isn’t to say that addiction is a choice. It’s a mental illness.
When someone uses recreational drugs, their brain floods with dopamine. This dopamine rush is extreme enough that it overtakes other things that would otherwise make the person feel good, like friends and family, exercise, hobbies, and anything else that causes a happy feeling.
As substance abuse continues, these good feelings from the drugs fade away. The person develops a tolerance and needs more and more of the substance to feel normal.
Even when normalcy is no longer achievable, the person can no longer function without the drugs and they may go into withdrawal from the time they stop using until they get their next fix.
The scary and uncomfortable withdrawal process is one of the things that prevents people from seeking treatment.
When you exercise, your body releases endorphins. Endorphins are the feel-good chemicals in the brain. Like opioids, they react with the opiate receptors in the brain.
They reduce stress and pain and create a feeling of well-being for the person exercising. You may notice that after you work out or play a sport you feel more energized rather than less, even if your body is exhausted.
Endorphins may also help with self-esteem, giving the person in recovery more drive and self-faith in their ability to move beyond their addiction.
While this isn’t a 1-for-1 exchange, endorphins make the transition from addiction to recovery easier.
But what kind of exercises are good for releasing endorphins and recovering from addiction? In short, all exercise will help. Anything that releases endorphins can help with recovery. There are other factors that may make some forms of exercise extra helpful.
Skateboarding is also social. When people create meaningful relationships, like those forged over shared interests, they may feel less inclined to use drugs.
It also teaches you to be persistent, a necessary quality in anyone going through recovery.
Surfing may also bring about a rush of adrenaline. Many people use stimulants to get a rush of adrenaline, making surfing a good alternative. There is also a spiritual aspect of surfing. Being out in the ocean can make a recovering addict feel more at one with nature. It can ground a person, make them more humble and imbue them with healthy energy.
The sun may also help with your mood. Research says that being out in nature may reduce stress and depression. Learning to deal with frustration and overcome setbacks in a healthy way also helps recovering addicts deal with larger issues that they may face in their sober life.
Yoga isn’t just about physical exercise. A good yoga instructor teaches you how to breathe in a meditative way (otherwise known as yogic breathing). This enacts a parasympathetic response or a response that causes relaxation.
Yoga also increases mindfulness. Mindfulness can help you “get out of your head” and focus on the moment which reduces anxiety and stress.
For someone who wants more physical exertion without the impact, pilates is a good alternative to yoga. It also requires control and mindfulness as you move your body and engage your muscles, but it may build more strength and provide more of a distraction than yoga.
Many people are familiar with the runner’s high that follows a good cardio session. It comes from that flood of endorphins and the feeling of achievement that follows energy exertion.
Weight training can also release endorphins and improve the body’s sleep cycle. Many people in early recovery have trouble sleeping without their drug of choice. Strength training requires the body to work overtime to build and repair muscles which can lead to a better night’s sleep.
Choosing exercise for your recovery doesn’t just heal you for your recovery period. It gives you a new thing to latch onto that hits all of those opiate receptors without the negative health effects.
Are you looking for a treatment center that incorporates exercise into your addiction recovery? We want to support you. Contact us to learn about our programs. We’re here 7 days a week to help you on your journey to recovery.
1010 Turquoise St.,
San Diego, CA 92109